The Mindy Project, “The Girl Next Door” and “Mindy and Danny”

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The final two episodes of The Mindy Project treated to what Mindy does best – ebb and flow through quick and quirky romances, and build up that ever-mounting tension between her and Danny, which finally resolved itself once again, all while honoring and updating the usual rom-com tropes. While fun, I do wonder what’s next for Mindy and Danny? But more on that in a bit.

“The Girl Next Door” tests the limits of the friend zone, when Danny tries to convince Mindy to move in next door to him. Peter puts it well: this is very much the move of a jealous once-lover who wants to be able to keep tabs on the woman he still pines for. The great thing about this episode is we see Mindy and Danny in a comfortable place once again – the writers did well to create the tension between them post-breakup and to push Peter in the forefront as both Mindy and Danny’s confidante – AND we see Danny pining for Mindy again. It was painful and sucky to really see Mindy’s heart broken – this is different from the other scrubs she was with throughout the course of the series. It wasn’t just being alone – it’s losing someone who actually matters to you. But in her usual Mindy fashion, she recuperates well and bounces back, well enough to flirt with that cop (Charlie) enough to pursue a two episode-arc relationship.

After Charlie escorts Mindy home after an elective operation to remove the webbing between her toes, Mindy decides to embark on buying an apartment to prove she doesn’t need a man in her life to guide her through her decisions. Of course, who becomes part of the process? Danny. She obliges at first, but tries to assert her ability to live her own life, inviting Charlie over and turning down a hang out sesh with Danny, Richie (his bro), and Richie’s boo. The Staten Island showdown between Charlie and Danny is so great – in so many ways, Charlie was the perfect threat and foil to Danny: he’s kind of an older version of Danny – a very matter-of-fact loveable type of curmudgeon who means well for the people he cares about (I mean, he went BANANAS over his daughter’s burgeoning sex life) As funny as the moments between Danny and Mindy were, they knew how to play the “realness” of real life adult romance, teetering in and out of the friend zone. Danny tries to convince Mindy to ditch her real first date with Charlie, and tries to pull in for a kiss. Mindy immediately confronts him in a very strong, sure, non-funny way, of course played off comically well by Danny. Mindy and Charlie enjoy a night under the stars lying on Charlie’s cop car.

The wonderful backdrop to Mindy and Danny’s budding romance is Peter’s personal growth into mature dating. Peter meets the perfect girl at a dinner party over at Jeremy’s (once again finding a way to make Jeremy mildly relevant again) and discovers she is a single mom of a newborn. Though he at first rejects the idea of getting involved with a woman who’ll likely want someone more serious, we see Peter go through two versions of the same date: one with Lauren, the brain surgeon single mom, and a date with a ditz who sometimes dots her i in her name with a heart or a star. Peter finally realizes a fulfilling relationship would be more productive for him, and he begs Lauren to give him a second chance – in the middle of a brain surgery.

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In the final episode of the season, we see a nice culmination of the ensemble cast being involved in a story: getting Mindy and Danny to finally acknowledge their love for one another. In a brilliant twist, it’s Danny who pulls a total rom-com move: Mindy has subway eye sex with an attractive man across the car, and Danny takes it upon himself to plant a missed connection ad in the paper for Mindy to find. Danny of course plays it off cool, reminding her she has a boyfriend (Charlie!) Of course Mindy, the hopeless rom-com romantic, decides she can’t pass up the opportunity for a destined love connection. She secretly emails the missed connection, and Danny proceeds to ghostwrite as the mysterious “Andy.” Meddling Morgan tries to intervene on behalf of Mindy salvaging her relationship with Charlie, only to discover immediately that it’s Danny. (What a great visual gag here – the computer screen lighting up across the hallway in Danny’s office at night, and the immediate DING that an email was received) Tamra and Morgan are the first of the ones pushing Danny to pursue revealing himself to Mindy as “the one.”

And so, he does. He tries to arrange a date to meet Mindy at the Empire State – Morgan and Tamra advising him to look special for the occassion, a la three piece Bradley Cooper suit (or maybe 20 piece, as Danny cursed off while struggling to put on and take off the suit). Instead, he becomes the prep session for Mindy in between breaking it off with Charlie and going to the Empire State. When she finally leaves, Danny is a no show, meaning, of course, Andy is a no show.

Again, another wonderful twist to the storyline is when Danny goes over to Mindy’s to console her when she calls out sick to work because she was out in the rain all night waiting. Instead of revealing to her right away, he hangs out with her, and instead of Mindy’s VO, we hear Danny’s VO as the rom-com protagonist. This is really wonderful, where he says it was the best time he’s spent with her and he got to see the city through Mindy’s eyes. If your heart didn’t melt when he said that, your heart may as well be cryogenically frozen.

Of course, a secret it could not stay, and it is revealed that Danny was really Andy: Mindy sees her suppsoed Andy on the subway, who turns out to be a European exchange student. On the subway car, Danny tells the truth. And again, another amazing part of this Mindy episode: they know how to write in realistic, dramatic moments, and Mindy proved again her acting chops during her tear-filled confrontation in the women’s room at the office. She turns down Danny, telling him that she’ll be too busy to meet him at the Empire State Building a second time, stating she wanted to avoid being the stupidest person in the world. She really hit that dramatic note in that episode.

BUT, of course, the reunion had to happen (or at least perhaps leave off in a cliffhanger, but thankfully it happened) – everyone in the office at this point knows about the romance between Mindy and Danny. Morgan, Tamra, Betsy, Beverly, Jeremy, and Peter first push Mindy to leave the office to meet Danny. Of course, the elevator is broken the moment Mindy arrives, prompting her to take the stairs. (It immediately starts working once Mindy starts taking the stairs) The gang finds Danny lamenting over a slice of pizza, having given up after only one hour. What would have otherwise been a powerful dramatic rush to the finish line becomes a physically comical stumble and crawl to the top, with Danny getting hit by a cab and hobbling his way to the Empire State Building, and Mindy basically rolling herself breathlessly to the top. Exhausted, they lie on the top of the Empire State in romantic bliss.

Now, as excellent an ending as that was, all I can wonder is… what now? I think the interesting thing is Mindy was once a writer on The Office, and I know it was a true challenge to figure out how to keep the spice of the Jim-Pam romance alive once they finally got together. Is that what the future of The Mindy Project will be? I imagine the series would’ve ended either with Mindy and Danny finally uniting themselves (and they just did) or with some elaborate Mindy-esque wedding (which it may be now) I’m sure they’ll find ways to have fun w/ the Mindy and Danny romance, but maybe season 3 will pave the way for developing the supporting cast more.

It was a fun season with a lot of surprising and well written ups and downs, and I’m glad Mindy and Danny are finally together. Till next season!

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