New Girl and The Mindy Project returned for their fourth and third season premieres, respectively, last night, and it’s a good thing that no one cares about “overnight” ratings anymore because the overnight ratings for those episodes were dreadful. New Girl returned with 3.1 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49, which was down 45 percent from last year’s premiere, while The Mindy Project saw a 32 percent drop from last year’s premiere, with a 1.3 rating and 2.8 million viewers.
Those are really bad numbers, and Fox’s $50 million failure, Utopia, didn’t help.
It’s hard to tell if this truly reflects a downward trend for the shows, if these two sitcoms are increasingly time shifted, or if the relatively early debuts hurt them (most of the other networks will not kick off their fall schedules for two more weeks. Fox always goes early because of World Series coverage).
In either respect, I hope viewers eventually find last night’s episodes on their DVRs or on Hulu, because for New Girl it was a very nice return to pre-Nick and Jess form with very fun guest star turns from Jessica Biel and, especially, Veep’s Reid Scott. I thought that Nick and Jess felt more like the best friends who are attracted to each other but won’t act on it stage they were in during season two, and I am glad to see that some focus is returning to Schmidt and CeCe. Both characters were underutilized last year, and if Elizabeth Meriwether plays her cards correctly, they could be the Andy and April of New Girl.
Meanwhile, The Mindy Project was flat-out fantastic. It was subversive, delightful, and hilarious, and if Nielsen factored in GIFs on Tumblr into ratings, The Mindy Project and Danny Castellano’s pink shirt probably would’ve been the highest rated show of the week.