“Parks and Recreation” aside, there aren’t three shows on television as charming and exceedingly well cast as “New Girl,” “Ben & Kate” and “The Mindy Project.” That the latter two have only aired their pilot episodes is exciting: There’s no reason “Ben & Kate” and “The Mindy Project” can’t be two of the best comedies on television by 2013.
“New Girl” is just ridiculously good. The first two episodes of season two picked up right where things left off: with Jake Johnson, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris firing on all cylinders. (“Nick, your brand is Gypsy alcoholic handy man. Winston, your brand is Winston.”) The shift from “The Zooey Deschanel Show” to “Friends Roommating!” during season one has been well documented, but it can’t really be stressed enough: “New Girl” should be mandatory viewing for fledgling sitcom writers for the next decade. It’s just the right amount of strange — invited guests to Schmidt’s relaunch event included “the girls from Lululemon,” “Philip Seymour Hoffman” and some guy from “Crank Yankers” — while also being incredibly mainstream. The four leads are so sharply written that stakes don’t even matter. As long as Jess is doing Nick impressions and Schmidt is bitching about his failure to acquire a white tiger, “New Girl” will succeed.
“The Mindy Project” and “Ben & Kate” have similar strengths — great writing and great actors meshing well together — but are on opposite ends of “New Girl.” Based on the pilot, “Ben & Kate” is going to be warm and gooey, which is fine since Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson have great chemistry together as brother and sister, and that cute little girl from “We Bought A Zoo” is completely adorable. (The show is “You Can Count on Me,” but funny.)
“The Mindy Project,” meanwhile, is much more angular: In the pilot, Mindy Kaling makes a jokes about “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” “Precious,” war crimes and poverty. Later, Chris Messina knocks “When Harry Met Sally” and Mindy’s weight. This thing has teeth, but Kaling is smart and knows how to make her character relatable.
With “The Office” and “30 Rock” eyeing the finish line and “Parks and Recreation” likely in its final lap (sadface), these Fox comedies are our future. Hollow out a papaya, mix in two fingers of rum and some crushed ice and enjoy.