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'The Mindy Project' canceled: What's left for network TV comedy?

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(Read caption) 'The Mindy Project' stars Mindy Kaling (l.) and Chris Messina (r.).

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Fox has reportedly canceled the Mindy Kaling sitcom “The Mindy Project,” which concluded its third season this past March.

The show was created, written by, and starred Kaling as Mindy Lahiri, an OB/GYN living in New York and looking for love. The most recent season found her pregnant with her boyfriend Danny (Chris Messina). The show co-starred Ike Barinholtz, Ed Weeks, Xosha Roquemore, and Rhea Pearlman.

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“Mindy” had struggled in the ratings – according to the Hollywood Reporter, the ratings for the season three finale, which aired this past March, were a series low for adults 18 to 49 for the show. 

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However, the show might not be finished. According to Entertainment Weekly, the streaming service Hulu is in “serious talks” with those behind the show for more than one new season.

If “Mindy” does make the jump to Hulu, it would be the newest critically acclaimed but low-rated comedy to come to a streaming service. “Community,” which aired on NBC for five seasons and received good reviews but often had low ratings, went over to Yahoo Streaming after NBC ended the show. “Community” debuted new episodes on Yahoo this past March.

Meanwhile, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock co-created the NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” which was also well-reviewed but had ratings difficulties (and aired for part of its run alongside “Community”). Fey and Carlock are also behind the show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which was supposed to air on NBC before the network passed on it. “Kimmy” went to Netflix and became a hit – at least in the pop culture sense of the word in that it was well-reviewed and it seems to be popular. Netflix and other streaming services are well-known for not releasing a lot of information about viewership.

The trouble is, will network TV have many critically-acclaimed comedies left? We of course don’t know what the fall 2015 TV season will bring, and a new classic could debut in September. But a comedy of the sort that’s beloved by reviewers is scarce on the low-number channels right now. The ABC show “Modern Family” is doing fine – A.V. Club writer Joshua Alston noted that “it isn’t as consistent as it once was” and “it doesn’t feel as fresh as it once did,” but that every season has had “a half-dozen phenomenal episodes.” However, as far back as 2013, Slate writer Jim Pagels was writing about “the decline of ‘Modern Family’” and calling a new episode “a new rerun” because of what Pagels calls repetitious plots.

“The Big Bang Theory” on CBS is always winning in the ratings. However, it can get mixed reviews. IGN writer Jesse Schedeen wrote of the newest season premiere, “It seems we're due for the same slow, plodding story progression as usual with Big Bang Theory. I have to wonder if the three-season renewal was really the healthiest thing for this show.” Meanwhile, Vulture writer Kimberly Potts wrote of one of the newest episodes, “Like many an episode in this eighth season, [it] was hit-or-miss.” 

 There are some bright spots. The ABC show “Black-ish,” which debuted this year, got mixed reviews for its pilot, with Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara calling it “more admirable in its intent than its execution… the humor goes broad… [but it’s] potentially great.” However, Alston called the most recent episode “hilarious… really funny from beginning to end.” 

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Fox's "New Girl" has had its ups and downs but a fairly strong recent season.

Meanwhile, New York Times writer Neil Genzlinger called Allison Janney and Anna Faris, the stars of CBS’s “Mom” “as funny as any duo on TV." And Fox’s comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which is airing its second season, has gotten some positive reviews – Vulture writer Allie Pape called the most recent installment “notably funny," though Pape added that she believed "it’s really getting to the point where I feel like the show’s writing team is petrified of making any changes at all to the plot status quo," while HitFix writer Alan Sepinwall called another recent episode "nice and satisfying."


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