The Mindy Project: 'While I Was Sleeping' Review

The Mindy Project | Hulu

Mindy Lahiri is back on our screens once more, all thanks to Hulu and its 26-episode fourth season order of the recently cancelled FOX sitcom, The Mindy Project. Naturally, the move to a new platform excites new possibilities for where a broadcast network sitcom couldn't go in terms of content. However, what works in the show's favor is that it has largely remained the same lovable, quirky, addictive romantic comedy that its fans have embraced since its inception. Yet somehow, amidst all the greatness of seasons past, the fourth season opener has managed to take the comedy to even greater heights, as it seems to understand itself increasingly better with time.

There are high expectations for this episode from the title alone. As Mindy Kaling is an outspoken champion of the romantic comedy genre, "While I Was Sleeping" pays tribute to the classic 1995 film "While You Were Sleeping," which stars Sandra Bullock opposite Bill Pullman. It's not the only rom-com tribute within the half-hour opener, as Mindy also conveniently utilizes references to "Sliding Doors" and "13 Going On 30." Where do these references take shape? Only within an arc that sees Mindy facing an alternate reality in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt is her successful, Real Housewives-producer of a husband, of course! Levitt joins the list of many guest stars before that have played a short-term role in Mindy's dysfunctional dating world. This time, however, the importance of Levitt's character is primarily used to help Mindy realize the importance of her complicated but committed relationship with Danny Castellano. When it comes down to it, despite their blatant differences and views on such matters as the meaning of marriage, can you really imagine them with anyone else but each other?

Having concluded season three with Danny unexpectedly traveling to India to meet Mindy's parents, something you'd call a bit of a torturous cliffhanger, we get to FINALLY meet the people behind the witty, sarcastic, fashion-forward Dr. Lahiri herself, who clearly takes after her parents in many ways. Mindy's signature "exsqueeze me" line? Yeah, she shares that sassy characteristic with her mother. While we unfortunately don't get to see Mindy interact with her newly introduced parents (yet!), it's still a great time to watch Danny try to navigate the waters of explaining his ties to their impregnated, unmarried daughter, who they are trying to set up an arranged marriage for in the meantime... with his help.

The other undeniable driving force behind The Mindy Project is and always has been fan favorite Morgan Tookers, played by Ike Barinholtz. Ike is a real comedic gem and has noticeably been getting more work after having written and appeared in the series for the past few years. He is an integral part of why this ensemble works well, as he plays so naturally off of every cast member. Only Morgan can pull off jokes about being recruited by the Taliban, being forced to temporarily use a wheelchair for having squeaky shoes, or not learning to walk until he was 12, because he's so goofily lovable and has such impeccable timing that it just works.

Aside from the usual self-deprecating humor that is expected with this series, the episode also draws humor from many pointed topics and ideas with care, including race, religion, arranged marriage, and divorce, and almost always manages to hit the right notes in order to make a point and get the laugh, a tough combination to master. With the addition of Mindy's parents, who most likely will not appear regularly due to the fictional distance (although I hope they do! Skype, people!), there is no shortage of lovably eccentric characters in this series that continue to keep me coming back for more of their shenanigans.

New episodes of The Mindy Project stream every Tuesday, only on Hulu.

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For those who have seen the season four premiere, what did you think of the episode? Did it meet your expectations? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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