Highlight: The Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling (centre) is the creator and star of this promising new sitcom.
Monday, Channel Seven, 10.15pm
MINDY Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) is TV's - pun intended - New Girl.
In this incarnation, however, she isn't a pert, cute, adorkable singleton with a smile that could defuse the tensions of the Middle East and who, in any case, is unlikely to find too many obstacles in life to anything her heart or mind desires.
In her own words, Mindy is a woman of colour in her ''mid-20s to early 30s'' with the type of fast-ticking and unfiltered brain that puts men and women alike on edge.
Kaling, the creator and star of this promising new sitcom, cut her teeth as a writer and actor on the US version of The Office.
The Mindy Project is one-part workplace comedy and one-part rom-com, which continues the staple TV theme of the sassy heroine who perpetually sabotages her chances of love.
At first glance it looks like routine fare as Mindy, a qualified obstetrician, editorialises on her dating misadventures and navigates the choppy waters of a workplace filled with a cross-section of personalities who will provide a season run of misunderstandings, clashes and conciliations.
There's the nuffy secretary, the smart-arse alpha male who secretly longs for a woman like Mindy but will never admit it, the dreamboat Englishman who boasts about his sexual prowess and has pick-up lines such as ''let's hang out deep''.
But several episodes in, it becomes clear there's a lot more going on here than first meets the eye.
Mindy is obsessed with the romantic heroines of popular culture, but is also cannily aware of the accompanying cliches and deceptions. ''May he have the wealth of Mayor Bloomberg, the personality of Jon Stewart, the face of Michael Fassbender … [beat] … the penis of Michael Fassbender'', Lahiri says, contemplating a looming blind date.
Charming? Not entirely, as we see in the pilot episode, when she pays back a boyfriend who dumped her for another woman.
Kaling also seems willing to touch on topics that don't usually figure in mainstream US sitcoms.
A segment of the pilot has Dr Lahiri deciding whether or not to take on a burqa-wearing patient who doesn't have health insurance. I need a different kind of patient, she tells her clueless secretary. ''More white patients, done,'' she replies, dutifully.
Nor does Kaling, who enjoys making her roundness a big part of the show's jokes, look like the sort of romantic heroine we're used to seeing on TV, outside of Lena Dunham in Girls or America Ferrera in Ugly Betty.
The only question is why Seven is giving this brisk and sharp show such a late slot. It deserves better. Let's just hope it's not shunted from the schedule should its down-time slot become a self-fulfilling prophecy.