The Mindy Project, “Danny Castellano is My Personal Trainer”

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Happy New Mindy!

We kick off the new year with a different sort of Mindy episode than the usual. For as confident and exuberant as Mindy usually projects herself to be, there always seem to be an episode or two that allows her to explore her insecurities in a fun and very Mindy way. This episode is one. My main criticism here is that we don’t get enough Cliff – we left off before the holiday establishing that he’s her new man – so I would’ve liked to see more developments there. My other criticism would be writing back Jeremy as a sleaze but otherwise the episode proved to be entertaining and funny.

In the only moment of the episode where we see Cliff, we have Mindy lead us in with VO about what it’s like diving into a new serious relationship, and a montage of a number of little events that occur (apparently in the same night). Cliff brings up the suggestion of wanting to go skiing with Mindy as a romantic weekend getaway and hints that he wants to get some hot tub time. Uh oh…

At the office, the crew is divvying up some coffee cake, and Betsy points out she made one especially for Mindy. Fresh off the realization that hot tub time = bathing suit time, Mindy crumbles and admits she wants to try to lose weight but doesn’t know where to turn. She goes so far to reveal that she has never let any of her boyfriends see her naked. Morgan at first steps up to be her personal trainer, but this sadly fails. Then Mindy sees Danny leave work and come back from the gym, and decides to enlist his help.

At their first workout session, Mindy is of course decked out in cute clothes, including those fat steps sneakers and a sweater with “sweat rhinestones.” Danny takes her to a very bare bones gym where there’s punching bags and weights – not one of those gyms with “Bravo playing all day” on the treadmills. At first Danny and Mindy aren’t clicking – Danny’s version of working someone out is usual tough guy talk – doesn’t work for Mindy. What does Danny do instead? Uses pop culture as motivation. This is a fun montage that shows how well Danny knows Mindy (and apparently pop culture too) – we see Mindy actually motivating and getting through the workouts. Mindy tries to go into the sauna after the workout, feeling confident enough to actually be naked. The shocker? Danny is in there too! This comic scene of seeing the unseen turns into slapstick, with Mindy’s hair getting caught on Danny’s watch (only Danny would insist on wearing his $35 watch in a sauna) and her slipping and falling.

Now with a broken ankle and a bruised ego, Mindy feels off put about Danny having seen her naked and insists he doesn’t say anything to her, even though he is trying to give “feedback.” (Although she doesn’t shy away from pointing out Danny’s feet issues) Out of curiosity, Mindy tries to get naked for herself in her office and gains back confidence, only to find an owl caught in her office (more on that later). Danny comes in as she screams and almost sees Mindy naked once again. Mindy confronts Danny and he insists on giving her some feedback now having seen her naked. And what a gentleman – all he tells her is don’t suck in your stomach too much. So once again, the tension between these two continues to grow, at the cost of getting Mindy confident enough with her body to show someone else. This was a fun distraction and device to get them more intimate time. But again, it’d have been fun to see more Cliff.

On the flipside, the B storyline was Jeremy taking his sick days and leaving Peter in charge of the office. The main thing this reveals is Jeremy is actually really great at his job managing the practice. Peter tries to take a laissez-faire approach (he even sings about it) but realizes it takes more work than that. His laissez-faire attitude leads to him erroneously opening the breakroom window letting in an owl that of course Morgan is friends with into the office. Peter tries to bring soup and get well things to Jeremy to try to get help only to find Jeremy’s sick leave is really for him to mess around with some girls. Jeremy gives Peter some good advice about respect and returns the next day to work. Meh.

A decent episode with a lot of great little moments as usual (they really know how to pack them in), but with a weaker B storyline, this episode isn’t as strong as usual. Mindy, of course, shines, as does Danny. Let’s hope for some better intertwined stories next week, and for more Cliff!

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