The Mindy Project: “French Me, You Idiot”/“Indian BBW”
A

The Mindy Project: “French Me, You Idiot”/“Indian BBW”

Mindy clears the will-they/won’t-they hurdle

A

The Mindy Project

Indian BBW

Season 2, Episode 16
B+

The Mindy Project

French Me, You Idiot

Season 2, Episode 15
A

The Mindy Project

Indian BBW

Season 2, Episode 16

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B+

The Mindy Project

French Me, You Idiot

Season 2, Episode 15

Community Grade

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“I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t kiss, me, I’ll realize this was a big mistake and I’ll return to my seat in humiliation. One, two, three . . . four.”

With that final extra syllable, Danny wins Mindy over. You may wonder if he really needed to win her over, but I believe Mindy the rom-com fan, the Meg Ryan-wannabe, needed some sort of over-the-top gesture from the oh-so-pragmatic Danny. And she gets it. And after a few months break, we get a will-they/won’t-they that we’re actually happy to see cross over to the “they-will” side. In TV land, that’s as rare as a unicorn sighting.

Because the will-they/won’t-they hurdle is about the hardest thing for a TV show to pull off; many times, you can feel the momentum start to fade the moment the two main characters finally touch lips. Or roll your eyes at the completely contrived obstacle thrown in between the two lovers to continue to draw out the tension.

But these first two episodes post-Mindy/Danny makeout keep the momentum intact. Part of the reason for this is the completely unbridled chemistry between Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina. You’d have to have a heart made of bronze not to get on board with these two. All their sneaking away to kiss in an airplane bathroom or Danny’s office or even a chapel rings true in “French Me, You Idiot” because they absolutely smolder. (Messina especially pulls this off, like his look of desire when he grabs Mindy’s hand in the church, or when he gazes mournfully at his door after she leaves his office after demanding the episode title.) And in typical Mindy fashion, their makeout session in said airplane bathroom is predictably madcap, with Mindy getting her hair stuck in the toilet and Danny’s arm in the sink. Maybe on a lesser show, that would have killed the twosome right there, but the next time we see them, they’re sweetly holding hands in Mindy’s elevator.

About to be greeted by, yes, an obstacle in their midst, but Glenn Howerton completely nails this episode. (He gets some romantic support from Morgan’s unrelenting optimism, leading a mariachi band in a version of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” in a misguided attempt to replicate the John Cusack moment: “Guys, you gotta read the room.” I also like how he swipes Cliff’s tip money.) The Cliff storyline helps highlight the other reason these episodes of The Mindy Project still work so well—the show’s unrivaled collection of fast and furious punchlines. Cliff’s grandmother’s death, which postpones his breakup with Mindy, kicks off a string of them: As Mindy tries to get him out of her apartment (“They say the best thing for grieving is to be by yourself”); a devastated Cliff to Danny (“No person should ever have to bury a grandparent”); and a frustrated Danny wanting to know how Mindy consoled Cliff (“I massaged his jeans.” “Was he in the jeans?”).

“French Me, You Idiot” unfortunately also spotlights what continues be a Mindy sore spot: the inability to land a B-plot. This one is exceptionally lame, as it is entirely based on the fact that Peter hates ballet. I love Adam Pally as much as the next person (let’s face it, probably more) and it’s nice to see Jeremy get some long-awaited screen time; I even always appreciate the midwives, which is why I was the only person in the universe who liked “Mindy Lahiri Is A Racist”. Peter’s despair over having to watch four hours of a wordless dance performance in an attempt to get a ballet company as a client is mildly funny, but overall the scenes at the ballet are so out-of-step with the rest of the episode as to actually kill momentum. On a rewatch, though, it occurred to me that Peter’s frustration over bringing the female dancer toward the male one, as she moves forward on toe shoes, then skitters away, may have been a message from the show about the Mindy-Danny progression: Why watch a prolonged and choreographed relationship dance when it’s obvious the two leads just belong together?

In “Indian BBW,” Peter is seamlessly integrated into the rest of the episode, eliminating the B-plot problem. On paper, the idea of Mindy being in a sex tape sounds awful, but fortunately she made the tape with her funniest ex-boyfriend ever, Tom (Bill Hader). The tape then gets uploaded to the hilariously named porn site Sploderzz, helmed by Rob Heubel and his brother. This whole plot turns out to be just solid gold, from Mindy’s Girl Scout sex-tape outfit, to the clean-cut Sploderzz office of the Dartmouth alums, and, especially, Hader’s bland new girlfriend/dental assistant, who offers what may be my favorite line reading in all of these 40-some minutes of comedy: “Hey, we’re out of gauze,” followed by Hader’s desperation that he can’t get anything done “with that in my face all day.” (I also love when he slams the door in her face. Can we get more of these two on this show somehow?)

When Mindy and Danny both come down with viral meningitis (like the sex tape, not a plot development that screams comedy, exactly), Adam Pally’s Peter becomes an unshaven, bro cupid: the first to realize what’s really going on with the two. After Danny inadvertently sees the sex tape, Peter’s unlikely insights clue Danny in to Mindy’s real feelings, as he cloaks it in love for “the practice”: “I think she actually might be a little in love with the practice.” And Richie Castellano (Max Minghella) is always welcome, offering some insights of his own as he baits Danny into admitting how judgmental he can be: “Hey, did I tell you I was thinking about leasing a car instead of buying?”

So it’s an episode based on a sex tape that takes place mostly in a hospital, and it’s my first Mindy A. Not an April Fools’ joke. Because when I tried to consider any possible downsides to “Indian BBW,” I realized there’s nothing I don’t love about it. It’s perfect, all the way through to Danny’s reading glasses and his faux English accent as he reads from Bridget Jones’ Diary at the end.

Mindy and Danny got together when they both realized that the person they were supposed to be with forced them to be the best version themselves. These two episodes also show how the best relationships happen when that person loves all sides of you—even your grief over Anna Nicole Smith. Or is willing to watch a Ken Burns documentary on doo-wop with you, or read your favorite chick-lit bible out loud. As Danny points out, their whole relationship has been foreplay, they’ve been on hundreds of dates, so the trick will be in the transition. But so far, the new Mindy-Danny relationship is forcing the show to be the best version of itself as well. At the end of “Indian BBW,” the new couple has decided to take it slow, which is just fine with the rest of us.

Stray observations:

  • I think we can all agree that Chris Messina’s lips are scrumptious and he has eyelashes like a pony.
  • The name of Danny’s craft beer, which he brews in his guest bathroom: “Dr. Dan’s Funky Ale.”
  • Mindy gives up while Danny tries to call old girlfriends to prove his appeal and just starts eating pie.
  • Mindy’s office staff continues to be woefully underutilized, but Beverly had a few nice moments as she hung her head in her hands over Peter’s weekend antics.
  • This Mindy line made me laugh and probably shouldn’t have: “Could you go find me the white nurse?… He’ll be gone for hours.”
  • Excerpt from Mindy’s eulogy for Cliff’s grandma: “Irregardless, we feel sadliness.”
  • Post-chapel fire at the funeral: “Guess we’re going with cremation after all.” Glenn Howerton killed it the entire episode. Also loved: “I’m going to cut this conversation short, Danny; it’s getting pretty uncomfortable.”
  • Mindy’s wrists are so dainty they can barely hold the enormous calzones that she eats.
  • Porn poster at the Sploderzz corporate offices: Downton Booty.
  • Peter likes Mindy’s sex tape even though it had a lot going against it: “Bad lighting, female director…”
  • The Mindy Project has officially been renewed for a third season, so we’ll have lots of time to see how this all plays out.

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