‘The Mindy Project’ finds success at Hulu

We live, as you’ve likely heard, in the era of PeakTV. There are more great shows on the air than is possible to keep up with. We all struggle to make room on our DVRs, sometimes (often?) opting to stay in and catch up rather than go out and actually do something. We also live in the age of the petition. When our favorite shows don’t get the ratings they need and network execs decided to pull the plug, the fan campaigns begin. Attempts to get a show trending by using the same hashtag across the globe (#SaveChasingLife), petitions written up at Change.org and sent to studio heads with tens of thousands of signatures, and a barrage of social media requests to other networks and streaming sites begging them to breathe new life into their beloved ill-fated shows.

It rarely works. As fans of Forever, Constantine, and the aforementioned Chasing Life can attest, often these impassioned pleas yield no results. Every once in a while, though, a show is afforded that second chance. What is it about The Mindy Project that made Hulu so interested in grabbing it?

According to writer/producer David Stassen, the answer is simple: Mindy. “Mindy just connects with so many people who see themselves in her point of view. She’s so honest and has so many good observations about life and dating and society and politics and culture. And she makes herself available to people, whether it’s book signings or Instagram or twitter.”

If you’ve had a chance to watch the show in its reincarnated Hulu version, you likely feel you are watching the same show you’ve always been watching. When asked about the shift, executive producer Matt Warburton says “I feel like we’ve been really surprised with how easy it’s been and how great it’s been. Hulu picked us up as a show because they already loved what we were doing. So their instructions were just ‘show us where it goes. What’s the next thing that’s going to happen?’ At this point, we’re halfway through the production process, even though the audience hasn’t gotten to see a lot of the episodes yet, and it’s still the same. Hulu comes to us with a lot of great energy and whenever they give us notes they’re really good notes, very helpful. They picked us up because they wanted to see what was going to happen with characters we already have, which is nice, you don’t often get that opportunity. Our idea from the beginning was it’s the same show. There are a couple things here and there that we wish we could’ve done that now we can do, but we want the audience to feel comfortable with the show they already love.”

Being off of network TV does afford the writers some fun wiggle room, though. Both Stassen and Warburton say they have worked to maintain a consistent tone and style to the show. But when asked about some of the racier lines in the Hulu iteration, Stassen adds, “In the writers room this summer our instinct was to go a little dirty sometimes. But we try to rein it in and keep the show how it was because we have the same fanbase. But for sure it’s been great on Hulu to have that freedom where we know we can pull shit and not worry about a censor coming back at us later. We’ve been pushing it but trying to keep the tone the same.” By way of example, Stassen quotes guest star Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the season premiere reminding Mindy that she said he could “S his own D.”

So what can we expect from the rest of season 4? Warburton teases, “I have to be a little coded about it, but the fact that we’ve had so many episodes to make this season challenged us to throw as many problems Mindy’s way as we possibly can. The episdoes that have already aired you see the seeds of some of these problems just getting planted. We have a long time to let them bubble up. You’re in a relationship, you have a baby, your job’s going well, you think everything’s solved…there’s some big problems on the way.”


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