The Mindy Project, “Annette Castellano is My Nemesis”

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Now that things are definitely real between Mindy and Danny, it’s only natural that family is going to get in the picture. There were tons of fun little nuggets in this episode, keeping the stride of the season strong and also showing that the Mindy-Danny relationship can definitely build over time.

The main storyline about Danny being afraid of having his mom and Mindy meet was a strong, and a fun and different take on the meet-the-mother rom-com trope. We knew already that Danny has daddy issues, but is totally supportive of his brother. But what about his mother? The jokes hit so well, and having a TV legend like Rhea Perlman as Danny’s mom, Annette, added great chemistry for Danny and Annette and even Mindy and Annette. From the minute they’re introduced, and the misunderstanding of Mindy as the cleaning lady, we knew that this wasn’t your regular meet-the-mom situation. When we see Mindy put forth the “expected” good girlfriend act, which she narrates over the birthday brunch she crashes, it’s clear that Mindy isn’t acting like herself, agreeing with all these things she doesn’t agree on and pretending she’s a fan of Castle. The best comedy from Mindy comes from her shamelessness to be herself, so seeing Mindy go against her own advice on impressing the mom and disagreeing with Annette is both an amazing comedic and dramatic shift. You’d think that it’s ridiculous for someone to feel upset over the idea that your son takes care of you, but of course, this turns against Mindy and instead reveals an insecurity about the economic differences between Danny and his mom. The reconciliation then feels very well deserved as Mindy apologies to Annette during a pickup housekeeping shift, when Mindy realizes that being herself is what winds up impressing Annette in the end.

Our secondary storyline for the week focuses on the balancing of relationship issues for Morgan and Tamra, and Peter projecting his own disappointments. I’m kinda getting now why the Morgan vibe has shifted – he’s in a serious relationship with Tamra. Morgan and Peter exhibit amazing comedic chemistry together, with Morgan flip-flopping between listening to Peter’s advice and making sacrifices for Tamra. The storyline here also has a very strong introduction, with Peter going into the bathroom to find Morgan sitting on the toilet to pee. The ridiculousness of this situation makes it easy for us to side with Peter initially – Morgan is possibly whipped and letting Tamra control too much of Morgan’s life. Watching Morgan somberly advertise that he’s giving up his 40 dogs is so sad and bizarre and hilarious, and Peter is of course prompted to interfere in the issue. When Peter shoves the pomeranian Nicole in Tamra’s face, we get maybe an over-dramatized slapstick reaction from Tamra, showing that the allergy is real and that Peter maybe took it too far with his opinion about how women manipulate men. Again, we get a very nice and satisfying resolve, with Peter being a part of the moment between Morgan and Tamra where they compromise, and they in turn give the advice to Peter that maybe he needs to forgive and talk to his girlfriend (who was noticeably absent, along with Jeremy)

When the episodes have two strong focal points, the episodes flow so nicely. While there weren’t as many crazy funny turns as the premiere, this episode definitely hit the comedic notes and story points well. What’s even better is how we’re seeing some developments that could continue to grow throughout the season. Tamra has definitely become a stronger and stronger tertiary comic force on the show. The writing has definitely been smarter about how and when they use these tertiary characters, like Beverly’s random one-liners. I’m glad that they didn’t feel the need to show Jeremy in the episode for the sake of inclusion, either, because he honestly wasn’t necessary in either storyline.

What I’m curious about, which is an unexpected effect of the show, is the hidden commentary about class in this episode. Mindy’s definitely given a lot more social conscious to feminine issues, race, religion, and sex. Here, I have so much wonder about the Castellano history. We’re reintroduced to Danny’s brother Richie as a down and out actor, scrambling for cash. He was always way more put together (I guess to project that he’s a suave gay man), but he looked frumpy in this episode, he had to ask for money to go shopping with Annette, and his birthday gift for Annette was definitely far more pathetic looking than Danny’s. Annette also gets angry about the idea that she can’t financially take care of herself, and how Danny pays her bills for her. This also ties back into Danny’s recently revealed struggle to make ends meet while in med school (leading to his wonderfully sordid past as Diamond Dan) The blue collar, Staten Island struggle as a part of Danny’s identity totally strengthens his character, and now I’m curious to see if we continue the Richie storyline of him being hard on his luck. I also wonder if we’ll get to explore Mindy’s past – economically and racially. When does Danny have to undergo the Lahiri treatment? I really want to see a return of Mindy’s brother, for sure.

Overall, a strong episode that definitely opens the door for future exploration for all of the characters. Will Peter ever get over the Jeremy invasion in his relationship? Will Danny have to face Mindy’s past? Will Richie be asking for money any time soon? And what’s going to come of Peter adopting Nicole?

Till next week!

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