The Mindy Project, “While I Was Sleeping”

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Season 4 for The Mindy Project seems to be all about the new, unchartered territories in multiple ways. First, writing for and airing on Hulu is the major game changer that’s keeping this rom-com alive. Then, the premiere has given us totally brand new experiences in the history of the show itself, from finally serving us that moment of meeting Mindy’s parents (long-awaited after the whole Danny/Mindy thing began to blossom) and a very elaborate dream sequence plotline.

I remembered seeing the teaser image of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mindy’s arms and wondering, “what the hell is this about?” As soon as the episode began – picking up where it left off – it became perfectly clear. Mindy’s alternate universe dream sequence was, as she referenced herself, 13 Going on 30 but she’s still “26” plus a little bit of, dare I admit I watched this, Bedazzled, and maybe a little It’s a Wonderful Life (the real originator of the alt-universe form). This plotline was very meta not only in its severe pop culture references, but with how much they referenced back THE clincher moment that sealed Danny and Mindy’s romantic fate. Mindy was, in both of her realities, bound to meet the love of her life on that plane back from LA. In alt-reality, Mindy’s idea of perfect shatters increasingly the longer she stays in the reality. What first sounds like the dream – this doting husband who’s a producer of the Housewives franchise – sheds its true ugly colors as Mindy discovers she’s unfaithful to her husband (a welcome cameo from Mark Duplass) and she hasn’t really advanced much in her own career (her side business is definitely not the great, ambitious fertility clinic). The great twist in the dream-state is how she attempts to break the spell by re-uniting with Danny, and how even in alt-reality Danny succumbs to Mindy. It was also fun to cut back and forth between dream Danny and real Danny as the alt-reality revealed itself to Mindy and how she tried to work her way back to Danny, even in her upset, even when she’s otherwise been given this “perfect” life.

Back in India, with Morgan hot on his trail, Danny goes through a wonderful escalation of revelation with Mindy’s parents. First, he flubs with admitting that he is in love with Mindy. Then, he learns that Mindy’s parents are actually the product of an arranged marriage, and he volunteers to “help” Mindy’s parents find her a suitor. Morgan of course swoops in and tries to expose Danny’s true intentions (in anger that Danny has no intention of asking for Mindy’s hand in marriage) by tempting the parents with the BEST suitor on paper. As the interview progresses, of course the suitor reveals himself to be judgmental and unaccepting of Mindy’s pregnancy. After all the pomp and circumstance over tradition, the next big turn here is Mindy’s parents revealing to Danny that not only do they really like him, but they’re actually very accepting of whatever status Danny chooses to maintain with Mindy, so long as he takes care of her and their future child. Now, anyone could’ve seen this a mile away that this would end in an actual proposal on Danny’s return, but it was nevertheless pretty damn rewarding, especially since Danny not only let out the air that he hasn’t had faith in marriage given his own personal experiences AND he also learned how well marriage could work seeing how successful and happy Mindy’s parents are.

The fun bips and bops in the episode definitely made this one to charm, like Mindy’s mom being an aspiring Bollywood actress (having, oddly, more success in Boston than in India) and Morgan having somehow being captured by the Taliban briefly (his jokes were off kilter but smarter in this episode – maybe it’s a new turn for Morgan?) The episode was overall a fun romp that gave us brand new environments to jump start this new turn for Mindy’s life. Now we have two big events to look forward to: a big ol’ Mindy wedding (and you know THAT’S gonna be an event) and the baby. I hope in the next ep we see the return of our other favorite secondary characters. I love me a Mindy/Danny-centric episode, but I wanna see what more is in store for Tamra, Jeremy, and Beverly in this brand new Mindy world.

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