The previous season of “The Mindy Project” ended with its characters panicking about commitment. The cold and beautiful Anna was struggling to settle down with her boyfriend Jeremy. Colette and Karen were engaged until the former bailed at the engagement party. And Mindy Lahiri—the show’s dramatic and emotional center—finally got her long-awaited marriage proposal, only to stare ambiguously at the camera as if something was missing.
And as the sixth and last season premieres with “Is That All There Is?” the group dynamic on “The Mindy Project” starts to enter uncharted territory. The characters have already reached the turning points of their plotlines and are established in supposedly happy relationships. There’s a lot of a change and worry for the future, but fans will be glad to hear that “Is That All There Is?” still retains everything that makes “The Mindy Project” distinctive. The one-liners are reliably funny. The quality of acting is consistent with past seasons. And the fifth season’s frantic sequence of “I do” and “I don’t” continue seamlessly: Jeremy asks Anna to move in with him. Colette and Karen are broken up and struggling to become friends. Tamra is trying to become pregnant via IVF, and worries about the expectations of parenting. And Mindy, of course, is struggling with her newfound marriage.
It seems that Mindy’s reconciliation with settling down will be a season-long theme. “I think I’m just used to spending so much time by myself that I forgot how to share it with anyone else,” Mindy pleads to her husband, Ben. The characters have grown up and (mostly) gotten what they wanted. Now, with just a season remaining, all “The Mindy Project” can do is explore the aftermath. Is that all there is, indeed.
It’s still early to pass judgement about the entire season, but the plotlines that creator and star actress Mindy Kaling sets up in the premiere have promise. Ever since the pilot, Mindy has held an idealized concept of marriage—but this rom-com fantasy may be overturned in the ensuing season by Mindy’s own inertia. In one particular scene, Ben gets excited to make Mindy leftover soup. But it’s a domestic gesture that is completely lost on her, partially because it’s a dramatic shift in lifestyle for a girl who tore through Season One drunk and wearing sequins.
Meanwhile, Jeremy has also found love after five seasons of waiting. He has gone through more personality changes than Mindy, but his latest iteration—idiosyncratic, bourgeois, innocent—gives him both strong roots and avenues for future plotlines. If the premiere is any indication, however, Kaling will tread gently with crafting Jeremy’s arc, careful to avoid a “Gossip Girl”-level drama in its last season.
Episode One is kind to its characters, kind in a way that is typical of the show’s past and promising for its future. The characters still have problems, but there is also room for imminent resolution—and thus a concisely wrapped-up season. The anthem of the episode, Fontella Bass’s “Rescue Me,” may well be the anthem of the season: The words talk about helplessness, but the upbeat R&B; tune says anything but. The truth is that Mindy Lahiri is going along as she always has, facing new problems with her familiar spirit. Mindy won’t need rescuing at all, and neither will “The Mindy Project.”