Sitcom Superlatives – The best, the worst, the cutest


Every week on Sitcom Superlatives we take a look at the best and worst in sitcoms, and this week we tackle ‘Go On,’ ‘The Mindy Project’ and the new, cutest unlikely couple in town.


Best episode of the week – Go On, “Gooooaaaallll Doll!”
Okay, so Go On was maybe not the total best (as usual, it’s hard to compete with 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation), but this week’s Go On was, even in my Tuesday overload of sitcoms, a surprise delight. Once again, this show gets therapy and the healing process so, so right. Gimmicks like this week’s goal dolls may inspire short-term change that feels like progress, but real progress is a slow, grinding process. The Sonia and Yolanda subplot was not only hilarious (“Three sugar cubes. Like the number of men I’ve been with… Today.”) but effortlessly illustrative of that. Putting on a brave face and changing everything in your life by a certain deadline isn’t how healing works. It’s a labor of love.

The show’s tension is not built around romance. Ryan’s main arc isn’t about a woman healing him, it’s about him healing himself. And that’s refreshing.
And speaking of love, how much did I love Ryan’s romantic storyline? “A lot” is the answer. I’m always pre-disposed to adore storylines about subverting the idea of traditional masculinity because that’s just my thing, but this accomplished so much more than just that. It made Ryan more relatable, fleshed out Carrie as a character and gave us the opportunity for a surprisingly funny Shaun White cameo. And the best part of it was that it wasn’t inherently about romance. As an audience, we really don’t know if the show is aiming for Ryan to ultimately end up with Lauren or Carrie. Does Lauren really love her fiancé? Was Carrie jealous of her friend because she got attention or because she got Ryan’s attention? We have no idea, and the best part is, it doesn’t matter. The show’s tension is not built around romance. Ryan’s main arc isn’t about a woman healing him, it’s about him healing himself. And that’s refreshing.

Show I’m Over – The Mindy Project
I wanted to like The Mindy Project so badly, you guys. I tried and I tried and I tried. I made excuses for why I didn’t like it — it was just one bad episode! It suffered because it was the last in a two hour block of comedies and I was worn out! But I can’t make excuses any longer. The fact of the matter is The Mindy Project just isn’t very good. There’s no focus, the characters are ill-defined and it’s simply not that funny. There are a few standout moments that make you think maybe, just maybe the show is worth watching (Mindy’s brother last week was a particularly good addition), but the slog of stress-vomit jokes to get through to them is excruciating.

The Mindy on The Mindy Project is an ill-defined mean girl, not the Mindy Kaling I fell in love with. And frankly, I have no desire to keep watching her.
What it comes down to, for me, is that Mindy as a character isn’t very likable. What I like about Mindy Kaling is her embrace of frivolity, that je ne sais quoi that makes her feel like your best friend you could sit around reading People magazine with. But television character Mindy has all of that warmth and relatability removed and just seems sloppy and catty and self-absorbed. It’s hard to connect to a character whose personality is so scattered that the only constant is her self-absorption. She’s never shown to have any positive qualities, but we’re told they exist and people seem to love her for them. The Mindy on The Mindy Project is an ill-defined mean girl, not the Mindy Kaling I fell in love with. And frankly, I have no desire to keep watching her.

Cutest Couple – Tessa and Ryan, Suburgatory
Tessa is right — on paper, her budding relationship with dumb jock next door Ryan shouldn’t work. He’s, well, simple, and the complete opposite of the type of person you would think that urban, sophisticated Tessa would end up with. And yet, against all odds, I’m loving the development of their relationship. The scene where Ryan brings Tessa her homework (and how hilarious was it that Lisa thought bringing Tessa her homework was the ultimate romantic gesture?) was beyond sweet. And it made me admit to myself that yeah, I really do want those two crazy kids together.

I think what works about Tessa and Ryan is that Tessa’s relationship with Ryan is ultimately like her relationship with Chatswin. Maybe she shouldn’t like it or feel at home there. It’s not her beloved New York and it’s certainly got its downsides. But like Ryan, Chatswin is a place where people have the courage to care, even if it’s about something as dumb as Junior Secretary’s Day. People in Chatswin may be dumb, but they’re kind and warm and that, in the end, is what matters.

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Photo Credit: NBC

3 Comments on “Sitcom Superlatives – The best, the worst, the cutest

  1. When I first read the premise of “Go On” I wondered how it could be interesting on a weekly basis. Turns out, that the cast is talented, the writing is surprising and Matthew Perry is more than just Chandler Bing. Wonder how long NBC will wait for this show to find it’s audience as they did with “Cheers”,”Seinfeld” and “30 Rock”.
    Again, the other two shows you mentioned I don’t watch so opinion.

  2. Hmm, I don’t know, Julia. It might be a generational thing. I personally love the Mindy Project because it speaks to issues I’m currently undergoing. I never saw her as vapid and I love the character’s career-mindedness. But, again, different people, different perspectives ;)

  3. I’m the exact opposite – I’m trying to love Go On, but I’ve got 5 episodes on my DVR still. I find myself choosing Real World Reruns on Hulu over watching those episides. It’s just okay for me. But every episode is the same. It always ends in a heartfelt ‘awwww’ group moment. I do really like John Cho though, and if they are still going forward with the Sonia / Danny romance.

    But Mindy Project is a show I didn’t like at first that now I’m loving. Blame it on the fact that midway through I read Mindy’s book, and fell in love with Anna Camp on Pitch Perfect. I love anything that Nurse Morgan does. I love Danny. And calling Mindy a mean girl is – IMHO – way off. I think she’s just a girl. A late twentysomething girl. She’s trying to be everything, trying to be cool, trying to hard, probably. And we’re all a little Mean Girl at heart, right? I don’t know. Something just happened on the show that made me fall in love with it (my feelings shifted on the In The Club episode).

    – @daniellesmyname