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Romantic Comedies Revisited

September 10, 2012

The new pilot for The Mindy Project inspired me to revisit a conversation I had about romantic comedies. While at first the show seems like a light-hearted comedy, I love the way Mindy Kaling touches on deeper subjects men and women can relate to. Mindy has been obsessed with romantic comedies since birth yet realizes in her adult life that happily ever after ended when her dreamy doctor boyfriend marries some else (Mindy relays her disappointment during a hilarious toast at his wedding…)

I can relate to Mindy’s disillusionment because Julia Roberts always gets her man at the end of the movie, and thus, a life time of looking for your “one true love” begins. This idea of one true love is difficult to give up because people can build their lives around it. I read a wise quote from Joseph Gordon Levitt who recently commented on his character’s behaviors in 500 Days of Summer. He said:

“The (500) Days of Summer attitude of “He wants you so bad” seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones, but I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is. He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.”

I think in The Mindy Project Kaling walks a dangerous line between critiquing the illusion of romantic love and falling right into its trap. While Mindy is having steamy sex with the British doctor the audience as well as Mindy knows isn’t right for her, there is some sexual tension going on with cynical doctor, Danny. I question how the writers will continue this story line. Will it be one of those plot lines I am all too familiar with where characters begin as enemies yet fall in love after realizing they were right for each other all along? I think I also question if it’s wrong to believe in romantic true love, but for all you cynics out there, here’s a hilarious fairy tale:

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(Note: The pilot episode of The Mindy Project is currently available on Hulu.)

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