Don't get us wrong: We're loyal viewers of "The Mindy Project," and think Mindy Kaling is pretty much the funniest woman anywhere on TV (now that Tina Fey is off the air, anyway). But midway through its sophomore season, "Project" is still very much a work in progress. Ratings haven't been great, to be sure. But more disappointingly, it's been hit-or-miss creatively as well.
Luckily, we have a few ideas on how to nurse this patient to good health. Here are our half-dozen prescriptions to get "The Mindy Project" back on track.
1. Cut Back on the Guest Stars
"Mindy" has brought in so many guest stars this season, we can barely keep track of them: James Franco, "It's Always Sunny's" Glenn Howerton, "Mad Men's" Ben Feldman, Timothy Olyphant ... In fact, they just announced "Breaking Bad's" Anna Gunn this week (and probably two more in the time it took us to write this). Guest stars can be a fun diversion, but when they're on every single week, they become a crutch that prevents "Mindy" from focusing on its core group of characters. In fact, that leads us to our next point…
2. Develop the Supporting Cast
All these guest stars mean that the non-Mindy-and-Danny characters get shoved into the background. Morgan's fine; his space-cadet antics stand out in a crowd. But we need more time with the other two nurses: old coot Beverly and sassy Tamra. (Oooh, maybe put them together on a road trip!) And we could probably cut out British doc Jeremy and mousy receptionist Betsy entirely without missing them too much. Use 'em or lose 'em, "Mindy."
The saddest case here: new cast member Adam Pally, who we adore from "Happy Endings" but whose MMA-loving bro surgeon Peter feels a little redundant with Morgan around. Let's find him something unique to do, huh, guys? He's a treasure.
3. Get Back to the Show's Rom-Com Roots
When it premiered, "Mindy" stood out from the sitcom crowd with its clever take on Hollywood romantic comedies — and the pitfalls of trying to live your life like you're a Meg Ryan character. That angle resulted in some of last season's funniest moments (Mindy and B.J. Novak at the Empire State Building comes to mind), but it seems to have been put on the back burner this year. Since it offers the show its most reliable comedic fodder (and puts Mindy in ridiculous situations), we want to see Mindy's rom-com obsession make a comeback, and soon.
4. Give Mindy Some Girl Friends
Too often in Season 2, Mindy is stuck being the token girly-girl alongside dudes like Danny, Jeremy, and Morgan (and now Peter). Shouldn't she have some female friends outside the office she can share her relationship drama with? We know they tried (and failed) last season with Anna Camp, but it's hard to believe Mindy has no gal pals at all to complain to over a round of frou-frou cocktails. After all, isn't the sympathetic yet wisecracking best friend a rom-com staple?
5. Bring Back the Midwives
Now here's a pair of guest stars we could use more of. Indie-film brothers Mark and Jay Duplass were great last season as maddeningly new age midwives Brendan and Duncan, who steal all of Mindy's clients with their touchy-feely approach. We wouldn't mind them dropping by Shulman & Associates to gloat more often. And Mindy's weird affair with Brendan might be worth revisiting, too. Although we're pretty sure we know who she'll ultimately end up with…
6. Get the Mindy-Danny Thing Started Already
So we all know Mindy and Danny are eventually going to end up together, right? This unspoken certainty has hung over "Mindy" from the get-go, but aside from an awkward moment between the two in the Season 1 finale, we've seen remarkably little progress on this front. They're the two best characters, and a step towards romance might inject new life into the show. Plus, with ratings looking grim, "Mindy" might want to hurry up and put these two together by season's end… just in case that's the end, period.
"The Mindy Project" airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.