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Review: Fox’s ‘The Mindy Project’ needs to pick up its mess of a main character

30 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox.

“The Mindy Project” can be described in the same way as its title character: pretty on the outside, but a mess on the inside.

Mindy Kaling, breaking out from her scene-stealing role as Kelly Kapoor on “The Office,” plays Mindy, a successful doctor obsessed with romantic comedies. On the outside, she’s adorably spunky and witty, leading a seemingly glamorous life in which she wears sparkly dresses and hooks up with her cute British co-worker.

But that facade soon comes crashing down as the real Mindy unravels – the one who makes a drunken speech at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding and subsequently gets arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. The one who only sleeps with that cute British guy because she’s letting him use her. The one who constantly whines about her desperation and frustration about being a 31-year-old single woman.

Yes, Mindy is a mess, and it doesn’t help that she’s not terribly likeable either. She’s awkwardly funny, much like Zooey Deschanel’s character, Jess, on “New Girl,” except Mindy has more bite. In fact, she might be too brutal. She’s rude to everyone around her, and frankly she doesn’t seem too smart or sensitive, showing up to work in last night’s clothes and demanding she have more white patients.

The pilot episode, which premiered 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on Fox, featured guest appearances by Kaling’s “Office” co-star Ed Helms as well as “Saturday Night Live’s” Bill Hader, both of whom added some comedic star power to the episode. However, neither seem to have recurring roles on the show, so whether their absences in future episodes will leave a gaping hole remains to be seen. In the meantime, the pilot led us to believe that Mindy and her co-worker Danny (played by “The Newsroom’s” Chris Messina) have some kind of sexual tension between them, even after he told her she should lose 15 pounds. Ouch.

“The Mindy Project” might appear to be a funny, lighthearted sitcom about a girl just trying to make her way in the world, but it’s a lot messier than that. It’ll need to tone down its viciousness and make its characters a little more empathetic if viewers are expected to come back each week and cheer for Mindy.

“The Mindy Project” is scheduled to air 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox.

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