It appears that FOX Tuesday night TV this season will be something of a haven for the 20-something girl. This Tuesday, the season premiere and series premiere of New Girl and The Mindy Project (respectively) kicked off. Both shows focus on the plights of scattered single women who at best should be described as semi-adults. New Girl's Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and The Mindy Project's Mindy (Mindy Kaling) are both on the quest for a full, happy, and vaguely adult life. Mindy is an obstetrician (grown up job), and Jess is a teacher (grown up job). Both have wonderfully hilarious friends (Can anyone resist Schmidt and his hair chutney?), and lovely apartments. Yet neither woman can hold down a sensible, grown-up relationship. On the season premieres Jess faked her identity to hook up with a hot guy, and found herself on an inadvertent date with a husky man named "Bear Claw." Mindy, before a blind date, prayed aloud in the back of a cab, "Dear Lord, please let this date be good. May he have the wealth of Mayor Bloomberg, the personality of Jon Stewart, the face of Michael Fassbender, the penis of ... Michael Fassbender." There is something about these scenarios that speaks right to my 25-year-old heart; probably because this whole set up is just so damn accurate.
Allow me to clarify. The accuracy of these two shows comes across in a very sitcom-y way; it's not accurate in the OMG-has-Lena-Dunham-been-eaves-dropping-on-me way that HBO's Girls is, it's accurate in the I've-felt-these-feelings, and if I were funnier would have said those words, kind of way. Jess and Mindy have perfect hair (even when they don't), are constantly surrounded by flattering lighting, and hot guys abound. But the way these characters exist within these created spaces gets right to the heart of the self-doubt that comes with that whole growing up thing.
Yes there are laughs, yes there are hot flings, but what these shows hit upon is that moment in young adulthood when things stop being awesome and start becoming a little bit depressing. Like when Mindy invites her hot boy-toy Brit over for a late night rendez vous; he's all wrong for her but Mindy assures her best friend that British Jeremy isn't all bad. "I think he is Hugh Grant in About a Boy," Mindy says. "I think he is Hugh Grant in real life," her friend replies. Or when Nick on New Girl is denied a credit card and told that he has, "the credit rating of a homeless ghost."
Unlike 20-somethings on shows like Friends, there is something infinitely relatable here. Where the Friends characters always felt just a smidge too grown-up, or too much like caricatures, the new characters on FOX accurately (but attractively) reflect that embarrassing and difficult time in life when you're just on the precipice of adulthood but haven't quite made the leap. In Mindy's case, she's walk-of-shaming her way to deliver a baby. In the immortal words of Britney Spears, "Not a girl, not yet a woman."
The seasons have only just begun but if New Girl sticks to the technique that moved the show away from the "adorkable" schtick at the beginning of season 1, to the real, relatable ensemble comedy that defined the end of the season, it will continue to be one of the only shows on TV that accurately portrays the young American sentiment. The Mindy Project seems poised to do the same. These are portraits of today's young adults; but today's young adults glamorized.