Ahh, spring: love is in the air and everyone’s got spring fever. Well, we did for a few days – looks like snow is back in the forecast. While you may not have heart eyes for weather, there’s plenty of modern love on the small screen (whether that screen is your actual television, or your laptop).
In honour of the return of the second half of The Mindy Project’s fourth season, and our rom-com loving heroine Mindy Lahari, I rounded up my top picks for shows reinventing the romantic comedy. Face it – if what you’re watching a) makes you laugh and b) focuses on people dating – it’s a romantic comedy. Embrace the name! The genre, often maligned – sometimes with merit, though often unfairly, having more to do with fact they are enjoyed mostly by women – has seen a resurgence in the past decade. From the R-rated comedies of Apatow & Co, to these hilarious shows below, the foibles of looking for love in a big city is as appealing, ridiculous and relatable as ever.
The Mindy Project (New episodes: Tuesdays @ on Hulu; Citytv/Thursdays @ 8:30pm)
Mindy Kaling’s personal love and appreciation for romantic comedies has been apparent throughout The Mindy Project’s four seasons, paying homage to many of the classic films of the genre, like when Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. Beyond that, it has also consistently been one of the funniest shows on television (and online – let’s be real, these days television refers to the type of show, not the medium it’s viewed on), attracting a wide-range of hilarious guest stars. Jam-packed with jokes, pop culture references and charmingly ridiculous characters (including the celebrity-loving and extremely confident Mindy, resident curmudgeon Danny, and reformed car thief and current dog lover Morgan), this show has been a favourite of mine since its inception.
After a long winter hiatus, Mindy has returned for the second half of its fourth season. We left off with our favourite couple of doctors at a crossroads in their relationship, with Danny wanting Mindy to be a stay-at-home mom, and Mindy wanting to continue to pursue her work at the practice, along with growing her fertility clinic. Delivering on more than a typical rom-com arc, this season has delved into what happens after the “happily ever after”. While it’s a risky move to breakup Mindy and Danny, (and pains me so), I’m sure there’ll be a lot of laughs (and a few tears) as these two navigate their conscious uncoupling (and eventual reunion – I REFUSE to believe it’s anything but inevitable!).
Man Seeking Woman (FXX)
There truly is nothing else on television like Man Seeking Woman. Often described as a “cartoon come to life” by its star Jay Baruchel, this comedy is a surreal journey into the world of modern dating. Anything goes in the universe of Josh (Jay Baruchel), his best friend Mike (Eric Andre) and his sister Liz (Britt Lower). What makes it work is that its madcap scenarios – as bizarre as they get – are not played as fantasy or as out of the ordinary to the characters. The show is a (very) heightened version of how dating feels, case in point:
The underrated comedy – which films in Toronto! – has just been renewed for a third season. It’s a truly unique comedy, with a lot of heart. In lesser hands it could be a heck of a mess, but with its sharp writing and talented cast, it can’t be missed.
Master of None (Netflix)
I devoured this entire series in one weekend. Aziz Ansari has explored the current state of dating in his stand-up specials and his fantastic book Modern Romance: An Investigation (written with sociologist Eric Klinenberg), and Master of None integrates some of these anecdotes into its 10 episodes.
Another New York-centred take on navigating dating, friends, career & family, Aziz (and co-creater Alan Yang) created a truly modern and diverse show, confronting everything from how technology effects our interpersonal relationships, to what it’s like to be the child of immigrants, to the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) racism & sexism that’s still prevalent today – all while being whip-smart and charming.
You’re The Worst (FXX)
This comedy is not for the faint of heart. You’re The Worst follows terrible people doing terrible things – and falling in love whether they like it or not. Gretchen and Jimmy are selfish, self-absorbed and keen on the casual. Add in their respective best friends, and a dose of substance abuse and clinical depression, and you’ve got a unique, biting, yet surprisingly moving take on modern love.
The premise? An unlikely pair meet and eventually attempt to date. Messy, hilarious awkwardness ensures. From Judd Apatow, a king of the awkward take on comedy and love, Lesley Arfin and Paul Rust (who also stars as Gus), Love plays with the ideas of the “nice” nerd (who actually has a mean streak) and the pretty girl who is a hot mess. While it’s not a perfect series, it’s another interesting at the look at the seemingly endless quirks of modern love.