It’s kind of a blessing in disguise that I’m reviewing the last 2 weeks’ worth of The Mindy Project back to back, because they both play with the theme of misunderstanding under the two big umbrellas the show fearlessly showcases – the trumping of rom-com tropes, and race. These two episodes definitely make me appreciate how talented of a writer Mindy and her writing team are, making rom-com and race fun, inventive, smart, but also approachable. I feel like other shows and movies that try their hand at dealing with race and romantic comedy do so superficially, or come short of being truly inventive. Here, Mindy keeps the sitcom fresh and lets the show stay true to her intentions.
So let’s begin with “You’ve Got Sext.”
Welcome back Cliff! We finally introduce and get the ball rolling on what looks to be a reoccurring arc for this season – will Cliff the lawyer be Mindy’s next love interest?
We get two wonderful interwoven arcs of the misunderstanding and miscommunication in romantic comedies: Danny thinks Mindy secretly has a crush on him and is coming on strong with dropping the hint, and Cliff mistakenly thinks he’s flirting with Mindy. How does this all get started? Because Mindy misplaced her purse after a delivery in the hospital.
Mindy asks to sleep over with Danny until the next day since she can’t get into her apartment. On their way out, she is distracted by all the happy couples. Danny catches this and asks why she’s all spaced out – then she mentions there’s a “guy at work” that she has a crush on but they “fight all the time” – and so the seed is planted in Danny’s mind about Mindy!
Meanwhile, Morgan and Peter find Mindy’s purse in the break room thanks to Mindy’s phone. Morgan and Peter show only a LITTLE bit of hesitance about poking through Mindy’s things, until they realize Cliff is on the other side of the conversation. What’s amazing about what happens here is that Morgan and Peter show they have good intentions and are rooting for Mindy, but get super bro-tastic about playing wingman for her. They start to respond to Cliff’s texts, and are (un)surprisingly great at texting in Mindy-speak. What at first starts as a curiosity for Cliff turns into full cutesy text-mode. The fun thing about this miscommunication? Seeing the other side! Watching these men calculate flirtatious texts was a real comedic treat. Like calling winkey faces emoji porn? Amazing! I at first found the Windows-phone style texting a little awkward and clunky, but this is the episode where for the first time, they use it well. Like when Cliff is contemplating his first sexting response – their back to back winky emojis pop on and off screen. Well played, TMP.
Of course, bro-sext-o-rama brings itself to a head, and Cliff decides to just nip it in the bud. He texts, “I’m coming over.” Peter and Morgan quickly and comically set up a party at Mindy’s apartment, with Morgan inviting neighbor Heather (Ellie Kemper) over to try to court her. We get a round of various board games as diversions to keep up the ruse of Mindy texting Cliff.
Fun fact: Peter is amazing at Scrabble. (The comedic timing of “disingenuous” was incredible) They go on and on until Cliff tries to make a confession at Mindy’s bathroom door. And then the truth is revealed. Peter and Morgan apologize, and Cliff begs the two to delete the texts from Mindy’s phone. As Morgan hesitates and resists Cliff’s instructions, he sees Cliff leave with Heather, finally succumbing to her since Mindy was not around.
Now, we’ve already seen several iterations of Danny and Mindy wondering and realizing how great their chemistry is with one another. Mindy plays this card so well this time around. We start with Danny acting rightfully nervous about the idea that Mindy forcefully invited herself to spend the night, and supposedly dropped a hint that she’s got a crush on someone in their building. Danny’s usual reaction is to resist at first when we introduce this storyline, then – he bumps into someone in his building he’s hooked up with on and off (Amy). Next step? Danny forces Mindy instead to play the role of girlfriend. Of course, Mindy goes at this in a very Mindy way, platonic and oblivious to Danny’s inner fears, adding layers and layers of lies to ward off Amy.
Up in Danny’s apartment, Mindy is messing around with Danny – again, in a platonic Mindy way – which of course makes Danny skittish and uncomfortable. She invites himself into his bed while they watch TV, and she grabs Danny after a scary moment comes on. Danny tries to take the moment to confront her over his misunderstanding, to which she unnecessarily confesses to farting (SO funny when she goes on and on about farting). However, before he can even address Mindy’s “inappropriate” behavior, they find Amy sitting on the couch.
Again, Mindy smartly turns this rom-com trope on its head – you know, make the could-be love interest pretend to be the partner and dealing with a scorned lover – by turning it into a relationship intervention. Not only do we get Mindy mediating an intervention between Amy and Danny, Mindy turns this trope on its head yet again with the revelation that Danny was the one leading Amy on. Amy wasn’t an obsessive psychopath! (She’s right – you don’t just make pancakes if it’s just a casual hook-up) Mindy instead makes Danny confront his loneliness and reveal the truth to Amy. And then again, the penultimate moment in the Danny-Mindy arc – Amy points out that Danny never looked at her the way he looked at Mindy when they tried to convince her, one last time, they were together. A-ha!
In the morning, Danny is sweetly cooking pancakes for Mindy. He tries to be coy, telling Mindy she should go after her crush. And then, the final revealing moment for their arc: Danny realizes Mindy’s been referring to Cliff all along.
And as an end note, Morgan leaves Mindy’s purse on her desk. And she finds her phone – first with a strange message from Heather talking about Cliff and then… finding the sexts. (Once again, great use of the Windows text speech bubble graphics)
And then… “Mindy Lahiri is a Racist”
Another wonderful way to explore misunderstanding in comedy? Race. We open with Danny ending an appointment with a customer who gushes about Danny and the practice, saying it’s the best in the city. Then suddenly, the bathroom door swings open and we see some antics between Tamra and Mindy, with Mindy having slipped and fallen on the floor from how wet the bathroom is since Tamra shaves there. The patient says she’s happy with most of the staff, at first seemingly look down upon the silliness and chaoticness of the bathroom situation. But then, when Danny brags about the mommy blog entry the patient wrote, the truth of her comment is revealed: the patient is a blogger for a white supremacist mommy blog!
This premise launches a jam-packed episode of fun arcs and guest appearances, namely by The Deslauriers (the midwives!). As the partners try to make business decisions, Peter feels like his opinions are not respected, and starts feeling burned by the senior partner vs. junior partner mentality. Then, the Deslauriers feed off the backlash of the mommy blog and start an anti-racism protest to push out Schulman and Associates from the building.
A PR consultant (guest star Jenna Elfman as Priscilla) urges the partners to tread carefully and plans publicity moves to help salvage the reputation of the practice. She targets Danny as the focal point to make a statement on behalf of the practice, but also enlists Mindy and Tamra to devise a statement together as the two non-white members of the practice mentioned in the blog entry. Both efforts, of course, fail comically.
Mindy invites Tamra to dinner to write a statement, but Tamra brings along Ray-Ron (Josh Peck). Mindy is put off by his lack of manners and tact and worldliness. When she suggests Tamra should be with someone “more like herself,” Tamra finally gets turned off by Mindy. Tamra makes a statement against the practice the next day during a big protest headed by the midwives.
As Danny tries to work something out with Priscilla, they get distracted from training him for his public statement by hooking up. When Danny tries to save face after Tamra speaks out, he fails and accidentally reveals that he hooked up with Priscilla.
Peter continues to feel burned by the partners’ lack of respect for him. When the new mayoral candidate rolls in, they all remember Peter mentioning they went to college together. They finally look to Peter for the answer, which he relishes in until … Peter realizes he does NOT know the mayoral candidate at all!
The mayoral candidate starts to speak out, making the situation seem grim for the practice. As he speaks, Tamra confronts Mindy. This is actually an amazing moment for Tamra, when she talks about feeling like Mindy condescends to “lesser” people. (Great Downton Abbey reference, Tamra!) This gives Mindy the inspiration to mend the situation, revealing Danny’s sex life (“He’s slept with almost every race of woman!”) but, more importantly, taking Peter’s idea about how to spend their surplus and making it public. Mindy gives Peter due credit for the mobile health bus idea, and it both saves face and gives Peter the respect he deserves as a partner doctor in the practice.
And let’s not forget the fun underlying story of Mindy calling out Cliff and Morgan for the sexts gone wrong, and Morgan apologizing to Cliff and going to bat again for Mindy’s sake.
Overall, two very fun and smart episodes with so many comedic surprises. Mindy is definitely not afraid to put stuff out there, from making potentially uncomfortable jokes about race to embarassing sexts to going on and on about farting. Definitely can’t wait for this week’s installment! Till then, stay warm folks!