As it turns out, The Mindy Project showrunners Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton are quite happy with the show’s move from Fox to Hulu. As the duo explained today during their TCA panel the switch has afforded them greater creative freedom along with significantly reduced stress. Particularly when it comes to the pressure of having to obsess over viewership numbers, something Warburton calls “short-sighted.”
“The single best improvement in my life,” said Kaling, “is working for people who are not having the forefront of our concern be the number of people who are watching.” Warburton agreed, noting that this is due in part to the way Hulu provides users with information about the service’s most popular shows on the home page. “That’s just positive nice feedback,” he said, adding the “it’s so short-sighted to look at week to week ratings… it’s a relief to not be confronted with it all the time.”
It isn’t just reduced pressure to perform that has them happy, it’s also the lack of meddling by Hulu in the direction of the show, which Kaling says allows them “to take storytelling risks, find new ways to explore” the show’s characters.
Prior to the panel today, Craig Erwich, SVP Head of Content at Hulu, called The Mindy Project “the bull’s-eye of our brand,” and that seems to be reflected in how the streaming service treats it. The series’ 26-episode fourth season, which aired in two 13-episode runs and concluded July 5, was able to go in some relatively dark places, something both Kaling and Warburton said would have been more difficult on Fox.
“When we were writing [Episodes 12 and 13 of Season 4], it was like “is it OK we’re making them so dark?” said Warburton. “That would be a real conversation at Fox, but Hulu has been totally supportive.”
That continues to notes on the show from Hulu. “I have found notes come from largely a very creative place rather than a “we have a piece of talent, can you use them on your show?”, “business-driven” direction, says Kaling.
It’s liberating, she said, “being allowed go in that direction, to be able to bring real emotion to the show without having to worry” about what show might be following Mindy.
The 16-episode fifth season premieres October 4. And for those wondering, while details about the upcoming season were kept to a minimum, the first episode is called “Decision 2016,” a reference both to the election and to the situation Mindy Lahiri found herself in at the end of season 4.