The Mindy Project: “Be Cool”/“Girl Crush”
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The Mindy Project: “Be Cool”/“Girl Crush”

The Mindy Project goes right off the rails

A while back, I was tweeting about The Mindy Project and a fellow TV Club writer responded that he really didn’t like the show. I asked him why and he said it was because it just seemed like nobody was driving the bus. Tonight Mindy ended a week’s post-hiatus momentum and two episodes of comedy by—both literally and figuratively—driving the bus right off the road.

This week is like the How I Met Your Mother finale. I realize that this show is only a few years old and is not over yet, so the situation isn’t quite as dire… but still. I have defended The Mindy Project. I have pitched it to friends. I loved last week. To turn on these two episodes after the previous stellar pair, I am gobsmacked.

And yet, there are still moments. I hate everything about Mindy and Danny’s breakup: the too-quick pacing, the Three’s Company-worthy hijinks leading up to it, the fact that the show offered us a lovestruck, pancake-making Danny (“This, us… you’re very important to me”) about five minutes in and turned him into a callous rebounder sexting with Peter’s sister by the end of the hour. But Chris Messina and Mindy Kaling nailed that tearful breakup scene, so well that Messina almost sold why an off-handed comment from a pharm girl (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) would make him run from Mindy. Almost, but not quite.

Also noteworthy: Yes, of course I’m going to vouch for Adam Pally again. Peter’s friendship with Mindy continues to be one of the most valuable relationships on the show, like when he tries to help Mindy make Danny jealous (unfortunately, she feeds him the grapes from her Breaking Bad finale party). And he continues his loyalty in “Girl Crush” by trying to keep Danny away from his sister (JoAnna Garcia Swisher).

The breakup scene was about the only element of consequence from “Be Cool,” (following a nonsensical string of break-ins, move-ins, and the Mindy Project staple, the impromptu party) but for a while I really thought things had turned a corner with “Girl Crush.” The bus picture alone (showing “a soap opera star, a Mexican dentist, a beautiful Indian woman, and some kid who just got bar-mitzvah-ed,” according to Mindy) that captured her sneezing made me laugh for about five minutes straight, so that I almost missed Jeremy’s description of the practice’s trip to Harlem to offer free breast exams as “The Harlem Globe-screeners.”

The episode even offered this great bizarre throwaway bit: “Mindy, do you want us to walk you out of here so that horny raccoon doesn’t follow you?” “No, I like the attention!” (with an eventual follow-up shot to the actual raccoon outside her window).

Anna Gunn made the most of her stunt casting as the doctor who tries to steal Mindy away to a female practice (“I don’t even care about fair trade!” “Excuse me?”). But Mindy’s time at the lady office made the problems at her own practice all the more obvious. When Danny says she’s his best friend and that’s why he wants to break up, she tearfully replies, “I have friends.” But who, really? Two exes and two goofy fellas at that office. For a while I was enjoying Mindy’s efforts to fit in with the guys, but they’re starting to wear thin. I’m almost sorry she didn’t jump ship with Sheila “Golden Vulva” Hamilton and her 3D printer that makes copies of your uterus.

Somewhere between Mindy’s lunch with the female practice and the Harlem trip, “Girl Crush” spirals out of control. It makes no sense for the doctors to head to a neighborhood with no signage or a bullhorn or anything that could explain what they were doing there. Or why Jeremy only remembers that he speaks Spanish after Mindy arrives. Mindy and Danny seem way too okay with each other to be so newly broken-up and the Danny Castellano we’ve grown to love over the past few weeks would not be a person that could jump straight into flirting with Peter’s sister.

Maybe I’m taking this too hard, which could be a mark of how good the show is—that it actually made me invested in the Danny and Mindy relationship. The amount that Danny cares about Mindy could in fact be the exact reason why he breaks up with her. She wants to change a little bit and have him change a lot, and he knows he won’t be able to. But Mindy’s right too when she says that every girl has heard the “friends” breakup line: The truth is that Danny is scared. I get that his fears were bound to surface eventually, but why absolutely immediately? Why not more than one week of investment before the relationship is destroyed?

It feels like a cheat to compare last week’s final scene (reading Bridget Jones’ Diary in the hospital bed) to this one (smashed bus on sidewalk). I’m sure this isn’t the last of the relationship and there are many twists and turns ahead, but this week didn’t feel like a twist. It felt more like a horrible derailment that will be hard to come back from.

Stray observations:

  • “You’re not in good enough shape to stand.”
  • The birth of North West was aided by Kim’s spectacular canal and Kanye’s tender birthing rap.
  • Dr. Lahiri’s enormous bag of potato chips! Hands off!
  • Peter’s sister’s occupations include “laser hair removal” and “closet organizational services.” None of this is JoAnna Garcia Swisher’s fault; she and Pally played off each other as siblings pretty well. But we could also see the errant naked selfie gag coming a mile away.
  • Danny hates the Latin Grammys, even though that’s Bruno Mars’ night.
  • Pharm girl Brooke’s product offers women the chance to synch their menstrual cycle with celebrities.
  • "You know how Mindy is with the velvet ropes. I mean, unless you're Benjamin Cumberbitch, good luck to you."
  • I know it’s not really helpful to compare shows across the board, but what is with the depressing romantic comedy trend? The HIMYM finale, the Nick and Jess breakup on New Girl, now this. Why are our sitcoms so troubled? Next we’ll be expecting someone to get killed in the line of duty on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  • I’m going to watch “Indian BBW” again before bed.
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