“Mindy Project” Season 5 to Re-write the Rom-Com Rulebook

Recently Hulu announced that it would be picking up “The Mindy Project” for a fifth season. This will be the second season streamed solely on Hulu after Fox dropped the show following season three.

For a series originally built around star and creator Mindy Kaling’s— as well as her character’s— affinity for romantic comedies, this new season is a big one: one that gives the writers a chance to break out of the show’s genre and make a new and bold statement.

True romantic comedies are much more prominent in the film industry than television, because the genre is built upon falling in love as the be-all and end-all. Once a couple goes through a slight rough patch, they’ll reunite at an airport or on top of the Empire State Building and live happily ever after.

It’s rare to see a well-executed television Rom-Com, save for maybe “How I Met Your Mother” and a small handful of others. It’s hard to ride off into the sunset when you know the next episode is right around the corner.

For a while, that’s where “The Mindy Project” was headed, though. Season one introduced Mindy and Danny’s hatred for each other before Mindy dated other guys for the entirety of the season. She was single in season two, sparking the “will-they-or-won’t-they” arc. Mindy and Danny finally got together in season three, and with the birth of their baby and their engagement underway in season four, it was looking like they would live happily ever before you could say “season five.”

But then the unthinkable happened. The thing that never happens in a rom-com. Mindy and Danny started to fight and then the broke up, and not in a way that sets up a dramatic and romantic reconciliation where the couple realizes they shouldn’t have fought and they’re really meant to be. No, Mindy and Danny called it quits for good.

So… then what? What do you do with a show that started off as a homage to the likes of “When Harry Met Sally” when Meg Ryan decides she’s no longer in love with Billy Crystal?

You do what most movies can’t do: show the audience that life continues after a dramatic, climactic event. You tell them that the main character can survive—and even thrive— without the most important side characters.

It’s a huge risk: fans originally started watching Rom-Com “Mindy,” not this new, more realistic show. But the longer “The Mindy Project” continues, the more it will be able to drive home an important and often-not shared message in the rom-com genre: life goes on.