The Mindy Project, “Be Cool” and “Girl Crush”


Forgive me if I happen to make this a long post. But there’s so much that happened in the latest dual installment of The Mindy Project that I can’t ignore, and that highlights a lot of features of the show that truly make it a unique sort of rom-com sitcom.

Now, I’m still processing the huge emotional turn these last two episodes took. I’m glad that the remaining weeks of the season will only air 1 ep a week. It was a sharp contrast to have these two episodes side by side, but they do allow for a great set up of what I expect to be an epic finale.

The thing The Mindy Project tends to do is build up potential relationships over time – but the time Mindy actually spends in a relationship episode to episode is never long. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the Mindy-Danny relationship (at least this stint) wouldn’t last long. The surprise here, for me, was how real and emotional it was. It was the best acting I’ve seen Chris Messina and Mindy perform together on the show – their comedic chemistry has always been spot on, but it was an amazing departure that they use a very realistic route to end the relationship … for now.

But before we get there – let’s examine the set up.

“Be Cool” starts with the Mindy VO of how much she was enjoying the relationship, and the more exciting parts about having a secret affair. The writers used the over-amorous displays of affection for the episodes Mindy and Danny were together very well. They built it up since the monumental kiss before the hiatus, and it was very much a lovey-dovey honeymoon thereafter. It was almost like they were doing fan service, saying, “Hey, enjoy all this now, because it won’t be here for long this time around.” Things start coming to a head because Mindy’s spent so much time at Danny’s lately that the next time she goes home, she finds her apartment robbed.

Cue in another brilliant thing the writers have brought into play – the platonic friend who also has great comedic chemistry with Mindy. I like the callback to Peter – who can usually be the “bro” of the group – taking a genuine liking to Mindy and wanting to help her out, in the similar way Mindy usually comes to the rescue for anyone else in the group (mainly Danny, of course). We saw the seeds planted briefly when Peter was Mindy’s date to her ex’s wedding – and we establish early on that while they get along well, the chances of romance between them are slim. But they’re definitely close. Peter as the man in the middle of the relationship works well – last week, he discovered their secret relationship and has been a good enough friend to both Danny and Mindy to keep it. Jeremy wouldn’t work for this role because he’s been far too marginalized all season and is simply not close enough to either Danny and Mindy to play this role. Morgan is too bumbling of a character to successfully do this as well – although it would be funny. Morgan DOES get involved, however, in creating the fun comedic confusion of who is Mindy dating in the office. Naturally, Morgan’s voluntary must-get-involved-in-everything attitude gets him in between Mindy and Danny when he nominates himself to stay over with Mindy and watch over now that she was robbed. While at Mindy’s, he sneaks in a dog (definitely a callback as we took a dog in waaay early on) who rummages around Danny’s scrubs… with Peter’s pen in his pocket.

Not only do we have Danny-Mindy-Peter keeping a secret, we then get Morgan confiding in Jeremy that he worries of an affair he believes Mindy is having with Peter. Finally – a great way to totally involve the major players in a huge storyline.

Peter keeps prodding Mindy and Danny to out themselves to the office, especially when a pharmaceutical rep who slept with Danny comes to the office for a visit. Mindy and Danny announce an impromptu party at Mindy’s place, and this rep wiggles her way into an invite, misinterpreting Danny’s invite as a “date.” Danny keeps trying to play it cool at the party with the rep, never stopping her flirting but being very mindful of her advances. Mindy’s discomfort (wonderfully executed with smashing that glass in her hands) leads Peter to get her to make Danny jealous back. Which, in turn, continues to feed the suspicions of Jeremy and Morgan. The party ends with a chair-breaking climax, as Mindy tries to step up her flirty seduction game. All amazing set-ups through this point.

When Jeremy and Morgan confront Mindy and Peter about their affair, we have our final moment of Danny flubbing up an opportunity to out the relationship. Mindy was patient with these failed attempts earlier, but cuts this one short, seeing that Danny clearly isn’t willing to out the relationship. She at first tries one of the “false ultimatum” tricks to get Danny to commit – but instead, the tables are turned. The speech Danny gives, and Mindy’s reaction, were very heartfelt. And I’m sure there are probably many fans who have been in that position before – falling for a friend who is too afraid to embrace what’s there for the sake of saving the relationship. Mindy’s reaction is so heartbreaking but also shows a real acknowledgement and sense of character: “Don’t tell me you want to be my best friend. I have friends.” After Danny walks out the door, turning back once to look up at her window, we know this is going to be a very different breakup not just for Danny, but for Mindy. She’s dealt with breakups before, but not with someone she was truly meant to be with.

Switching gears into “Girl Crush,” there are things that work well with this playing back to back against “Be Cool,” and things that I know are probably upsetting for the fans. It was – in and of itself – a brilliant episode. But there is one essential problem I have with it – but more on that in a bit.

We open again with Mindy VO, talking about how this breakup is harder because she can’t escape the person she’s trying to get over. Working with someone you’ve dated is never easy. When it works, great. When it doesn’t, there’s definitely a huge change in your day to day. So naturally, this was the perfect environment for another doctor to try to poach Mindy into their practice – a celebrity doctor well played by Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn. Herein lies two of the brilliant things about this episode: timing for this plot point to be introduced, and simply Anna Gunn’s performance. This must have been such a fun departure for her, especially after having been in the role of Skylar for so many years. She – like Betsy Brandt – was probably itching for something lighter to get into, and she does it well. Her very straight-faced, smooth talking doctor act was on point, and she executed some of the best lines of the episode with great finesse and comedic timing.

So anyway, the day Mindy decides to visit the competing practice to entertain the idea of leaving Schulman and Associates is the day the practice is supposed to test out their mobile clinic – suggested not too long ago by Peter. Third best thing about this episode: Peter. His character is really an amazing anchor for the team, and he shows this again in this episode by harping on Danny about hitting on his sister. We of course get a glimpse of Mindy noticing and feeling immediate discomfort to Danny flirting with another woman – and especially so soon. I agree with what most people are probably thinking – after professing you acknowledge that you love someone but won’t be with them, you immediately entertain a fling? I know Danny has a track record – so does Jeremy. But Jeremy isn’t even as much of a dog. Not even Peter, either, actually. For being the frattiest of the bunch, not even Peter successfully dates. Sure, he never commits when we are aware of his dating life, but he seems to have perspective since he, too, was a victim of a painful breakup. Danny’s immediate regression to his old ways makes this episode almost not work. It’s a snag in the fabric of an otherwise well-written episode.

So anyway, perfect storm of different issues exploding in everyone’s face comes along – since Mindy decided to spend the day being courted by another practice, the men of the practice initially fail and instead inspire a riot during their first attempt of the free mobile clinic in Spanish Harlem. Of course, Mindy keeps going with the idea of joining the celebrity practice – chock-full of amenities like a yoga studio, head massages during your examination, and a 3D printed rendering of your uterus (Anna Gunn throwing in the line about using hers to plant her succulents is priceless) – as the grass is always greener, especially post-breakup. Problem? The reason the practice is so souped out with the amenities is because their wealthy clientele pay out of pocket – they don’t accept patients with insurance. Of course, even though we know Mindy lauds the glamour and materialism, she’s still a good person at heart and an even better doctor. She turns down the offer because she can’t turn away her patients.

Of course, in anger, the other doctors get Tamra and Betsy to clear out Mindy’s office assuming she’s taking up the job offer. Mindy, feeling underappreciated, tries to race back to Anna Gunn – only to find they’re auditioning other minority doctors in her place, and they only reached out because she would add diversity to the practice. She rescues her team of doctors upon a text from Morgan admitting they need help – the set up of four white guys asking to examine your breasts is definitely hilariously sketchy. Mindy, of course, saves the day, and saves their reputation. We get a brief moment of acknowledgement about Danny trying to rebound off Mindy, to which Mindy maturely and succinctly responds she’s fine with whatever Danny chooses to do. We also get a moment of Peter acknowledging he knows what Danny did to Mindy, and he doesn’t want neither his sister or Mindy hurt from what Danny’s about to do. Way to go, Peter.

So what does this mean for the rest of the season? Although it was sad and genuinely heartbreaking to watch Danny break up with Mindy, I’m actually glad. I was actually worried about how well it was going for them – especially for the show to last for hopefully a while, the relationship needed a challenge. You got to work for the happily ever after – and if it really was happily ever after midway through season 2, what else do we have to go on? When the girl gets the guy and the guy gets the girl, it happens at the end, and you just assume they go on to share many happy experiences together. At that point, once the struggle is achieved, do you need to watch the honeymoon? Most of the time, no. For a show only in its sophomore season, this had to happen. It actually will allow for more opportunities to develop the characters in great ways. We know there are consequences to breaking up with someone who was otherwise a friend, let alone someone you work with. I’m interested to see how Danny continues to deal with it, and also how Mindy will deal with it. Buzzfeed talked with Mindy, Chris Messina, and Ike Barinholtz about how this season will end, and Mindy brings up a point I definitely picked up on for a while – it was always Danny chasing Mindy. What will it look like for Mindy to chase Danny and pine for him?

To cap off, here are the most memorable and comedic moments of the two eps for me:
-Danny reacting to hearing about Mindy’s place being robbed: “Mayor De Blasio’s been in office for a few months and now we’re living in baghdad?”
-Danny awkwardly walking away and not acknowledging Mindy: “Adobe acrobat’s updating on my computer – I gotta check it out.”
-Jeremy telling Peter and Peter telling Danny “You’re disgusting” simultaneously because they think the other is trying to cheat on Mindy
-Danny sending Mindy a picture text of a selfie with him in a tie. This was so adorable
-Peter coaching Mindy before they pretend flirted: “I want you to giggle like a little girl … like a human girl.”
-the fact that Mindy’s kept grapes since her Breaking Bad finale party
-Beverly commenting on the Peter/Mindy faux flirting: “That’s why i’m all turned on – I’m watching ‘friendship.'”
-Danny to Brooke when he turns down her proposition: “You should go see the city. People say the Statue of Liberty is cliche but i see her every weekend!”
-Anna Gunn describing performing the birth of North West: “Kim’s canal was spectacular and Kanye’s birthing rap did the rest.”
-Peter imitating Mindy’s “adorable” sneeze – I’m so glad he joined the show.
-Jeremy’s terrible and mildly insensitive jokes about the mobile clinic – “Harlem globescreeners,” “Spaniards’ harlem”
-1) that there’s a horny raccoon that follows Mindy, 2) the fact Mindy named it – “Not now, Pepe!”
-Betsy’s newly announced love for Danny – real good comedic break in that scene, and a good callback from when she saw the naked photos from Cristina’s hate-art show featuring Danny
-Anna Gunn pdescribing the patient experience: “Here is a model of your uterus from our 3d printer, I use mine to plant succulents”
-Morgan upon seeing Mindy’s 3D printed uterus model: “I would recognize your uterus ANYWHERE!”

Hopefully next week will mend some of the wounds of the heartbreak. But at least there’s the guarantee of the writing and the jokes continuing to be spot on.

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