The Mindy Project, “Diary of a Mad Indian Woman”

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This past week’s Mindy episode brought out the thing I feared could happen to this show. With Mindy in a successful relationship, there will naturally be the challenge of inserting conflict. Most of what has come up in the course of this season has made sense in the timeline of their relationship. My problem here is that the presented conflict in their relationship is something I feel is out of place in their timeline, until of course the reveal at the end with Mindy secretly hoping for a proposal from Danny. What worked about this episode is the character development for Mindy herself. It’s funny – we had both good relationship moments and character moments in the last few weeks, but with a focus on Danny and Peter. The relationship challenge this week seems very devicey – every factor that contributed to an actually well written moment at the end felt very contrived, purposely set in place to create the ultimate conflict. It was forced. The real conflict it reveals is great for the show, but how we get there felt a little ridiculous. But Mindy? She had an amazing turn in this episode for her own self growth.

So, let’s start with the cold open with Mindy and Danny fighting about whose side of the bed to sleep on. Problem number one: if they presented this, like, weeks ago, this would totally make sense. You’d think they’re kind of over the hump of what it means for them to stay over (primarily) Danny’s place. They’ve been dating – according to Danny and Jeremy and Morgan – 7 months. I think in 7 months time, you’d have come and gone with the discussion of whose side of the bed you sleep on. This of course leads into a more valid argument from Mindy’s point of view – they ALWAYS stay at Danny’s, rarely ever at Mindy’s. Now THIS part of the argument does make more sense. But still, leading to that point felt forced, even if we got a few silly moments of physical comedy in there.

Mindy gets so excited about Danny finally agreeing to stay over that she tries to push off her duties at the hospital. Here is where Mindy and Dr. Fishman work well as tense sort-of adversaries. Dr. Fishman lays it out for Mindy that she has a responsibility to work with interns at the hospital, as it is an educational hospital. She challenges Mindy by saying they’ll lose their spot at the hospital if she doesn’t put in her part to teach the interns. It’s funny – there’s always way more of a focus on Mindy’s personality and character outside of the workplace, especially lately as we’ve been developing the Danny and Mindy storyline – that you can almost forget that she’s actually a really great doctor, and mentor. So it was amazing to see that side of her again in this episode. It’s very clear what her strategy is with the interns – she quickly picks up that TJ is the “best” intern, but she knows that feeding into his ego isn’t helpful to the others. So she picks out the shy intern, Candace, to assist and participate. Mindy’s outright refusal to call on TJ – notably the only male intern in the group – turns on her, though, as he makes a sexism complaint to Dr. Fishman, who thereby makes Mindy acknowledge and apologize to him. Mindy’s apology to TJ shows more about how good she actually is with handling people and helping people, so long as she puts her mind to it. She tells him that she needs to give the other kids a chance and that he needs to learn how to work with his fellow doctors better. We got so much more of these types of moments from Mindy before the Danny stuff took over, so it’s refreshing to see that she’s really good at what she does. Even if sometimes her well intentioned actions can be misinterpreted at first, they actually come from a very good, intelligent place, as we’ve seen in instances from season 1 and season 2 where she took someone under her wing, or was working specifically with a patient.

But anyway, her rushing to meet the call of duty as a teacher creates a totally ridiculous scenario that generates conflict, and all of these convenient factors that play into it again feel so perfectly scripted to manifest into a particular result. Danny is left to entertain himself at Mindy’s, and comes across her diary. I find it hard to believe that he’d actually want to snoop, and that he wouldn’t have known about it before or whatever given how oversharing Mindy is, but fine. He decides to read it over a tabloid magazine lying around. And what does he do? Oh gosh, he spills WINE all over it because he’s surprised by Morgan dropping by with stuff. Please, repeat that sentence to yourself. Details that are all too convenient to keep him busy and build suspense and a conflict. Of course, earlier this episode we also so conveniently found out that Jeremy is insanely good at signature forgery, as he is the one who usually forges Mindy’s signature for teaching sessions at the hospital. Morgan suggests that the only way to hide that Danny’s gone through Mindy’s diary is to have Jeremy forge the diary. They conveniently find a matching empty diary and Jeremy complies. And, since Danny didn’t finish it, and because Jeremy has to fill in everything in the diary, it is Jeremy who reveals to Danny that Mindy wrote about wanting to be engaged by Christmas.

So, to get to Danny realizing that Mindy wants a permanent long term commitment, we have a totally confounding chain of events to get there. I couldn’t believe all of what transpired to really make sense for the characters to get there. Jeremy has been so absent as a friend to Mindy or Danny that his participation is definitely out of whack, and again, I don’t entirely believe Danny would be so reckless and snoop. He’s a pretty OCD guy, neat, tidy, whatever. Sure, you can argue that he went out of his element while being out of his comfort zone in Mindy’s place, but it’s a little much. It doesn’t make sense to me. But anyway…

Now we have a very interesting, very real challenge to Mindy and Danny’s relationship. From the moment Danny processes Jeremy and Morgan’s opinions about the proposal, we return to better writing and more sensible situations. Let’s not forget that Danny’s divorce only became official like a few months ago or whatever. Danny has already been down the aisle and back. I wonder if Jeremy and Morgan kept that in mind when they were talking to him about Mindy’s diary entry and the justification of her expectation for marriage down the line. For Danny, this is totally a real and scary concern. Of course he’s not going to want to jump on the marriage train again so quickly. But when he confides to his mother, she brings up a great point. Though I can’t say if Mindy is really TOO old to continue being single again if she had to (hello, this is set in New York – tons of single people of all ages just kicking it, people having kids late, etc), Annette tells Danny that if he really doesn’t plan on keeping things going, to not string along Mindy. Whether Annette likes Mindy or not, that’s totally fair to say. So of course, when he rushes to return the diary to her place and possibly hang out with her for the night, Mindy in an actually normal, not-crazy-attached mode, is all like, “I’m going to bed in my place, it’s your choice to stay here or not.” And the moment is filled with tension and dramatic irony – to Danny, the decision to stay or go is not just about spending the night with Mindy. And Mindy is blissfully unaware that now Danny is mildly freaked out and is being way more cautious about his moves. The final shot here is amazing, with Danny and Mindy going in two different directions maybe, in the dark, several sets of doors and doorways separating them. It was comforting to see him rush back in and play it cool like, “You don’t even lock your doors?” but we know that the hesitance is real and this is only a red herring of peace and harmony for the relationship. For now.

So, though a lot of the results of this episode are good for both character and plot development, a lot of what got us there made me feel a little frustrated. The other conflicts that have come up for Danny and Mindy felt way more naturally set up, and it just felt a little too clear that the writers maybe wanted to rush into this pressure point for the two. Come on.

Till next week!

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