The Mindy Project, New Girl, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Man Seeking Woman, and How I Met Your Mother.
What do all those shows have in common?
Well, for one, they all feature a millennial as their main protagonist. This protagonist is also single. In fact, most of them even kick off their pilot with a break-up of some sort.
This introductory break-up signals that love is going to be the end goal of the series. Of course there will be other ambitions and goals to meet along the way- especially for female protagonists (apparently women still have to prove that marriage isn’t our only goal in life)- but each of these comedies revolves around a quirky protagonist’s struggle to find a partner.
The “searching for love” trope has become even more common in contemporary sitcoms than the “quirky but loveable family” trope that was so common when we were kids.
Even just by comparing hit TV shows, I think it’s safe to say that we Millennials tend to struggle with different issues than our parents did at our age. After all, what is a sitcom for but to mock our deepest fears and help us laugh at ourselves?
Having binge watched most of The Mindy Project, New Girl, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Man Seeking Woman, and How I Met Your Mother, I’ve noticed a couple of common themes running through these shows.
1. Women worry that they’ve been too successful, while men worry that they haven’t been successful enough
Mindy (The Mindy Project) is a OB/GYN, Jess (New Girl) is a school principal, Rebecca (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) is a lawyer, and even Liz (sister of main character Josh in Man Seeking Woman) is a lawyer. When all of these women find themselves unexpectedly single, they are introduced to a kind of panic none of the male protagonists are forced to face: will I be too old to have kids by the time I find someone?
In contrast, Nick (New Girl) and Greg (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) are bartenders, Josh (Man Seeking Woman) is a temp, Josh (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) works at a “laid-back” tech store, and even Mindy has dated the occasional DJ.
This is a bit of a red herring, since Ted did eventually become a pretty successful architect.