Tuesday night is huge for television comedy. In order to make sense of all of the options, we've decided to rank the best shows each week to suss out who is coming out on top.
Note: New Girl is on a two-week break while Mindy makes up for lost time with back-to-back episodes.
1. The Mindy Project
After a long hiatus, The Mindy Project came back last night in a big way with two episodes, one much stronger than the other. The first episode "French Me, You Idiot" picked up right where we left off, with Mindy and Danny, well, frenching on an airplane. That led to one hilariously awkward attempt at a bathroom hookup, and while that cold open could have easily served as a fake-out, the rest of the episode fully committed to the idea of Mindy and Danny. Before they could continue kissing—Mindy was "horny for" Danny's kisses—Mindy struggled to break up with Cliff, whose love she had just won back thanks to a finely written email from Danny. Then, Cliff's grandmother died, preventing Mindy from finalizing the split, and Cliff asked Mindy to write a eulogy. (Seriously, who asks his girlfriend to eulogize his grandmother and then doesn't even read the eulogy before getting up to give it?) Hijinks, including a the burning of a cross during a makeout session, ensued. A side plot involving the practice's attempt to win a ballet company as a client was largely forgettable, but that's fine since the A-plot was so strong.
But! The second half of Mindy's hour was disappointing, finding the show on the verge of falling back on some of its worst habits. A sex video Mindy made with her former boyfriend Tom (Bill Hader) improbably ended up online. Tom's personality on the show is never consistent, which would be fine—he's not a regular after all—if the show didn't have a habit of reinventing characters. The DVD of the sordid affair, which involved a Girl Scout uniform, naturally found its way to Danny, who was hospitalized with meningitis and pissed that Mindy wouldn't have sex with him yet. Danny, in fact, revealed himself to be somewhat of a pig, asking Mindy to, well, pleasure him in his hospital bed. There have been hints before that Danny is a ladies man when not being a sad sack about his ex-wife, but now, suddenly, he's a dude that wants to pressure someone into sex. That's not a good look.
The sex tape plot felt like a cheap way to reveal that Mindy is serious about her relationship with Danny, a way for them to interact without interacting. Still! It ended with Danny doing his Bridget Jones voice, so it ultimately won our hearts back.
2. Trophy Wife
It was nice to finally see a little bit of tension between Kate and Pete on last night's Trophy Wife. Trophy Wife has for the most part revolved around the (loving!) tension between Pete and Kate and Pete's ex-wives Jackie and Diane. But last night we saw some honest, non-threatening discord in Pete and Kate's marriage after Pete threw out Kate's chili-that-tasted-like-balls and lied to her about it. Aside from that nice little bit of character development, there were some other charming bits and pieces. Diane and Bert spoke Mandarin. The underused Natalie Morales had a chance to shine as Kate's friend Meg. We also learned that if Jackie could live in any era it would be 1996, which gives us a lot think about.
3. The Goldbergs
The Goldbergs returned from its week off with an episode that was not the best the series has to offer, but a solid one nonetheless. We saw Adam face off against his arch-nemesis: Gym class, or more specifically, the president's fitness test. While the thought of doing just one pull-up struck fear into his heart, it was the only way he could prove fit enough to survive a Soviet invasion. (Was everyone in the '80s obsessed with Red Dawn terror-conspiracies? We're going to assume yes). In the end, it was all about rites of passage (which you can't get out of with a note from your mother). Even Murray learned to swim eventually. The b-story involved Barry trying to woo Erica's French pen-pal, which involved the sort of tired mistranslation humor that is rarely funny. It did give Albert some more screen time than usual, but the show can do much better.
4. About a Boy
Last night's About a Boy followed a similar formula: Will was a jerk, and then Marcus convinced him to be less of a jerk. Still, the show showed a hint of forward momentum, when Will actually was honest with a hot doctor, who treated Marcus when he stabbed himself in a foot while unsupervised by Fiona. That honesty obviously came in the form of a public performance of the Christmas song he wrote. It was a cute performance, but hopefully some of the life lessons Will is learning actually start to stick.
5. Growing Up Fisher
Let’s summarize Fisher’s problems last night by boiling down the episode into the two things driving its plot lines: boobs and pot. First we have Henry, who, because his father went blind inexplicably at the age of 12, is terrified of his own upcoming 12th birthday. He decides that he must see everything there is to see before he loses his sight, and with the help of his best friend Runyen (who is turning out to be a bit of a perv) puts a pair of breasts as the top of his list. His quest to see "naked boobs" involved peeping on a breast-feeding mother and sneaking into what he thought was the girls' high school locker room (uhg), but ended up being the mens'. The second plot of "Drug/Bust" was Mel smoking marijuana for the first time. We get that the show is about the life of a middle schooler, but that doesn't mean it has to be written by one. So yeah, Fisher remains at the bottom of our rankings.