bestof2014-13Every day between now and Christmas morning, we’ll share the twenty-five stories that engaged, enchanted, amused and amazed us the most in 2014. If you missed them, now’s your chance to catch up; if you’re looking for a gift for the wonk in your life, then these are our most enthusiastic recommendations!

Today, The Mindy Project

If you’ve heard from someone that The Mindy Project isn’t that great, that someone probably watched the first few episodes of the first season and, well… fair enough. You may have even heard that from Himself, as Alastair is one of those people. But I trucked on through and I’m here to report… The Mindy Project is worth sticking to.

Just to get it out of the way, let’s start with the valid reasons why you may have gotten bad reports. TMP is wildly uneven in the first season, as many television shows are while they’re finding their feet. Don’t get too attached to cast members, because it jettisons people like Machiavelli on a life raft. It’s also fallen into the Comedy Mule pit, a recent and regrettable phenomenon wherein a sitcom creates one obnoxious character to carry all the terrible, tasteless, world-breaking jokes that the writers think are funny when they’ve been in a room together for twelve hours, but which they can’t give to any of the main cast members because it will make them seem unlikeable/stupid. Mindy’s CM is the character of Morgan, played by Ike Barinholtz, who has grown on me despite the way the character is written, but still, I maintain that sitcom writing rooms are better served by axing those bad jokes because they’re just bad, rather than packing them onto an obnoxious CM.

But even with its problems, The Mindy Project charms me, and it’s one of the few shows (along with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Flash) that I watch week to week because even though I love the post-season glom where you give a lost weekend to one season in its entirety, I just can’t wait that long to get my TMP. Mostly, it’s Mindy. She’s funny in an original way that takes a playful line with a lot of topics so shameful, no one else will touch them (racism being a top gun, followed closely by bad sex and being an overweight woman.) In finding the funny in these topics, Mindy manages to charm you with her vulnerability and wit and fresh sense of humor, rather than recycling the same tired jokes; even those to the CM and sometimes the CM-lite character of Peter Prentice… who will also be departing later this season… are at least fresh in their obnoxiousness, which ain’t nothing.

But most of all, I love the relationship between Mindy and Dr. Danny Castellano, played by the wonderful and often under-appreciated Chris Messina. While their relationship features some of the same tired ups and downs as many onscreen romances once they get past the they did phase of will they or won’t they?, it’s the small moments between the two that make the romance wonderful. Mindy’s brashness and insecurity works perfectly against Danny’s old world Staten Island boy being flummoxed by his modern woman.

I know this sounds like a mixed recommendation, but it’s really not. Some of the big movements in the show are rocky, yes; you’ll get attached to people (Betsy!) who will disappear without a trace, yes; and the Comedy Mule is working overtime, yes. But The Mindy Project serves up fresh jokes and perspective, which are worth their weight in gold on network television, and it delivers a sweet and surprisingly emotional romance, which will keep me coming back every week. If you like romantic comedy and are looking for a break from the creaky old jokes being recycled on most modern sitcoms, take a chance on Mindy.

Get it now: The Mindy Project