The fourth season of the sitcom “The Mindy Project” is almost here, with new episodes of the show debuting on the streaming service Hulu on Sept. 15.
The day the new season debuts is the same day that series creator and star Mindy Kaling releases her new book of essays, “Why Not Me?”
“Project” centers on OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri, who on the show is currently pregnant with the child of her boyfriend and fellow doctor Danny (Chris Messina). The show was canceled by its previous home, Fox, last year and Hulu picked it up for a new season.
The previous season ended with Danny traveling to India to visit Mindy’s parents, unbeknownst to Mindy. A new trailer for the series showed Danny with them and also includes a glimpse of a new character – Jody Kimball (“Hand of God” actor Garret Dillahunt), who works at Mindy’s practice while she’s on maternity leave.
The new season will also include appearances by actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Freida Pinto, who will pop up in an episode that envisions what it would be like if Mindy and her boyfriend Danny had not gotten together.
“Mindy” is the newest comedy to be canceled by a network channel and be picked up for new episodes by a streaming service. Fellow Fox show “Arrested Development” and the NBC show “Community” went to Netflix and Yahoo Screen, respectively. What is the advantage for these streaming services?
“People see value in programming that already has an identity,” Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, says of streaming services deciding what to pick up for new episodes. For a show like “Mindy,” which already had three seasons worth of promotion by its network, “you’ve already got the fan base.”
In the streaming world, those behind “Mindy” made an intriguing decision by deciding to put one episode online a week. That’s a different model than that embraced by, for example, competitor Netflix, which is famous for putting whole seasons of a show online at a time.
There can be a downside to that in our binge-viewing world, Thompson says. “We’ve really got this sense of entitlement,” he says. “We’re almost angry that there’s not another one to watch.”
But this can be a positive decision financially, he says. Filming a whole season at once requires a bigger monetary commitment than filming episodes over a longer stretch of time. “You can’t always afford to do what Netflix has been doing,” he says.
But “Mindy” and other shows being saved from cancellation by streaming services represents a big shift in TV thinking.
“Cancellation is not a terminal diagnosis,” Thompson says.