“The Mindy Project” – Valentine’s Day Mid-Season Review

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Happy Valentine’s Day, fellow tv fanatics!

What better way to commemorate the most romantic day of the year than to re-cap TV’s spin on the rom-com genre, The Mindy Project? Last week FOX aired the Valentine’s Day episode, leaving the sorta-midseason on a good stride, fresh off some major changes in the show.

I’ll be honest – it’s been a tough go to follow along with this show for a while. I’m a fan of Mindy Kaling, maybe because I too am an Asian female, and to see a strong, female, minority presence on TV is empowering and encouraging to me (I also am working in TV, so there ya go). But after watching through the hoops and hurdles the show has gone through, I definitely believe it’s still worth it to follow Mindy’s journey as a successful ob-gyn otherwise unsuccessful in true love, and is having fun with it. The last few episodes have proven it to me. As today is the day of love, let’s review The Mindy Project‘s progress thus far and focus on the positives, shall we?

Mindy and Danny

I think one of the first things The Mindy Project had to figure out was how exactly they wanted to play the Mindy Lahiri-Danny Castellano chemistry. It was clear from the pilot that these two are set up to play through the will-they-or-won’t-they trope, but in the beginning there was kind of a sense of malice between them. There’s a fine but distinct line between treating someone like the coworker you have to deal with, have grown to know (to your chagrin) and don’t always respect versus the coworker you have grown to know, may not always agree with, and have come to genuinely care about. Their banter throughout has always been smart – some of the wittiest lines are said by these two, separately or together – but we saw this transition in their chemistry take shape in the Christmas episode, where Danny is the main person helping Mindy deal with the discovery that her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend was actually cheating on/with her. (Ellie Kemper made a memorable craaazy cameo as the “other woman”) Since then, it feels like the ice between them has warmed up a little bit – enough that they maintain actual romantic distance, but close enough that you really enjoy the time they spend on screen together. I was very happy that The Mindy Project writers favorited a live tweet of mine commenting on them debating on which Housewives to watch in the doctor’s lounge. If that ain’t some form of friendship, I don’t know what is!

Jeremy

Heartthrob Jeremy is a character that’s kind of been workshopped before our eyes. He went from sleazy guy to actually decent secondary male presence. There was a trial and error period with him and naive country-bumpkin-turned-sorta-city-girl Betsy, when he went home with her in some rando boonies for Thanksgiving to be with her Cosby sweater-wearing family. But last week’s Valentine’s episode I think put him in a great place – befriending Morgan. Jeremy works well when he’s interacting with the other men of the show – even if he and Danny wind up acting like jerks together (i.e. pushing Mindy out of important decisions on how to run the practice now that it was entrusted to them by Dr. Shulman), it seems natural for him to find camaraderie with a guy since we quickly established his reputation as a ladies’ man. We’re not here to watch him continue being a slimey dude – The Mindy Project wants to put the rom-com genre on its head while celebrating its traits. So it’s fun to see him fall into a different role within this universe. Jeremy giving Morgan tips on how to woo a woman, only to be shocked by Morgan’s “success” of hooking up when Morgan wound up being his own weird self, was very rewarding and made me more invested in both Jeremy and Morgan.

Morgan

Though I may have had my reservations when Morgan was introduced to the show, he quickly helped shape the comedic tone of The Mindy Project universe. So much of the humor is fast-paced and witty, that to see someone just being weird is a refresher and slows down the general pace of the episodes. I’ve found him actually endearing as that guy who is trying really hard to be a good worker, and a good friend, despite his prior jailtime. He could’ve been a creepier, shadier guy, having had a past in prison, but he balances out the male presence. Danny is the cynical New Yorker, and Jeremy is the ladies man. The show needs a nice guy, even if he is a little weird. He usually gets some pretty outstanding moments – like seducing a nurse with a raggedy doll when all he wanted was to go to the batting cages and his guilt when he helps the gang snoop and sneak into places (it’s actually quite convenient that he was a former low-rung criminal – it makes sense how these people would do the random sneaky things they do if they have him around). He’s found his place, and I soo hope we hear more about his theatrical exploits in prison – I love imagining him playing Effie White in Dreamgirls.

Mindy’s best friend situation

It was biiig news when Anna Camp stepped down from regular cast to guest, and equally big news when The Mindy Project axed that other receptionist (sorry – she was so forgettable I don’t even remember her name!) But the rotating roster of friends situation seems to make sense now. Obviously, the goal is to expand Mindy’s universe outside of the office, and outside of her dating life. Especially considering she works with three guys, and another woman who isn’t the most helpful or experienced in real world dating, she needs a non-work outlet. The sassy aggressive college friend who popped in for two episodes was fun, and then when she hung out with another best friend who was oddly in a cast and wheelchair (it made for amazing visual gags), Danny called her out on the rolling roster of friends. Mindy’s meta-payoff to Danny’s questioning? “Best friend isn’t a person – it’s a tier.” It’d be great to establish some consistency with just ONE friend to follow, but for now, it’s fun to see the different outer influences of Mindy’s life. Plus, a bubbly successful woman like her WOULD have multiple female outlets to turn to in real life.

Last but not least.. Mindy’s dating life

I’m glad this season has been split between her navigating a long-term dating venture and her being single. There were some hiccups throughout the way – like her sudden prudishness to just hooking up with people post break-up when she was otherwise freely hooking up with Jeremy in the pilot and the fact that the too good to be true boyfriend was actually a bit of a snoozer. Some of this was due to FOX airing episodes out of order. But in any case, watching Mindy navigate the dating world as a single girl is way more fun. From her failed attempts at making the hook-up with holistic midwife Brendan super steamy (that scene of her trying to get out of his technologically savvy shower edited against him playing “Landslide” on guitar was comedic brilliance) to the misinterpretation of her stalking the lobby of the Empire State Building to find “the one” by chance in New York’s most romantic building, these moments show off Mindy at her finest. What’s really great is that she handles herself well in her dating life – she easily impresses some pro basketball players at a club, has an otherwise good date with Ed Helms’ character that just goes sour by mere chance of timing, and she was close to sealing the deal on that horse-drawn carriage before the horse just drops dead and her date suggests she can fix it simply because she’s a doctor – and it’s fun to see the wrong turns these relationships take. The BJ Novak two week guest appearance as Jamie is especially memorable, because of how much it toyed with the usual rom-com trope of that best friend-soulmate complex. It’s fitting that Mindy both clicks with Jamie but also helps him acknowledge his real-life rom-com situation, thus uniting him with always-there female best friend Lucy. All the men Mindy seems to choose are real characters and are usually fun (I mean, BJ Novak going all Singing in the Rain as he realizes he’s in love with his best friend is classic!) As much as we should hope she finds true love, let’s watch a fun and funny girl be single! It works!

The Mindy Project is a labor of love, and it loves to toy with how Hollywood spoonfeeds us ideas on how love works. Considering the progress its made as a fledgling series, I’m looking forward to reviewing next week’s episode with y’all. Till then, Happy Valentine’s Day!

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