The Mindy Project: “Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist”
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The Mindy Project: “Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist”

B

The Mindy Project

“Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist”

Season 1, Episode 5

Finally, after storms, and debates, and holiday pre-emptions, we get “Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist,” which was first supposed to air more than a month ago, and had gotten bumped so many times, I was worried it was a real dog of a show. But no! It was mostly pleasant and fun! Much more so than “Halloween,” which I missed last week due to the hurricane (or just general Cablevision incompetence, I was never really sure) and featured the characters at their most grating and sociopathic. This episode put the show’s biggest problem characters (Jeremy and Betsy) together, and while that didn’t solve the problem, it at least made everything else flow rather nicely.

The main conceit is that Mindy needs an OB/GYN, and Danny offers himself for the job because they don’t have a personal relationship, a claim she disputes. Much as it did in “Hiring And Firing,” this devolves into a lot of name-calling and mind games between the two of them that continues this show’s trend of skirting in and out of seriously mean territory. Mindy mostly goes for Danny’s one major weak spot—that he’s divorced and alone—while he unleashes a fusillade of shots, including her weight, her difficulty finding a man, and her ticking biological clock.

The point of all this bickering gets a little obscured. Danny’s trying to prove that he doesn’t feel close to Mindy, while Mindy’s trying to prove that he… does? She succeeds by freaking him out while he’s examining her naked breasts. Which is not that weird, since they’re co-workers of similar ages. It also renders the rest of their conflict a little redundant, because the breast, and never-completed vaginal, exams were always going to be the real hurdle.

So all their bickering can’t help but feel super sitcommy. Luckily, this is a sitcom, and Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina have decent chemistry, and it can be fun watching the show test just how mean it’s able to get. I liked the asides with Morgan and Gwen, who intervene when Danny’s diatribe about Mindy running out of time to find a man and pump out four babies gets to her. I wish she could have realized that Danny was probably laying bare a little of his own fears in that rant (which ended in fantasy Mindy getting divorced and dealing with being alone), but the whole “warrior self” thing was cute enough.

I don’t love Jeremy and Betsy (we’ll get to them in a minute), but Gwen is the only character who really struggles to fit in on this show. A few episodes in, it’s obvious this is going to be primarily a workplace sitcom. Yes, there’ll be lunches with Gwen to discuss cute guys, but that’s not really enough to justify Anna Camp’s presence as a regular, and her drop-ins just feel weird and implausible most of the time. I get what she represents for Mindy, and the slight bit of character background we got this week (they moved to the city together, and Gwen met her much older future husband a week in) was good to have, but I foresee continued struggles to get this character right.

Still, she’s better than Jeremy, who breaks into Mindy’s apartment to steal a watch he left behind after their “bedroom date” in the pilot episode (first time that’s getting mentioned again, by the way). Mindy yells at Jeremy for being very mean to her, which is a somewhat mysterious accusation that only makes sense because Jeremy seems like someone who would be a jerk to the women he sleeps with. But this was a very broad, cartoony way of dealing with things, and Betsy and Morgan’s presences didn’t help because they’re the most broad, cartoony characters.

I like this show, and with all my nitpicking, I had a good time with this episode, but I do worry for it in the long run considering that I only like half the characters. I have no idea where Stephen Tobolowsky has been, by the way (he was at least mentioned this week, but never glimpsed), but so far he doesn’t really fall into the “like” category. This is show with a bunch of great lines per episode, a few strong performances, and some hints of long-term chemistry, but at no point does it surprise me or make me laugh as much as its timeslot partner New Girl. Now, that was a show that took some time to find its feet. But Mindy can only take so long to really distinguish itself.

Stray observations:

  • The opening scene with Mindy putting on Josh’s shirt (and he her pants) was very funny, the best part of the episode. Since this one aired out of sequence, I would bet they added it later, so that bodes well for the future.
  • Morgan recounts his life story, beginning with his birth. “They took me out little Caesar style, through the guts.”
  • He is an expert lock picker. “They used to call me the Loch Ness Morgan. Mostly because I would show up blurry in photographs.”
  • Danny doesn’t like Mindy’s homemade thank-you card. “Take the sunglasses off the sun, makes no sense, the sun’s the only thing that never needs sunglasses.”
  • Morgan digs Mindy’s digs. “It’s pretty cool she can afford this place on a woman’s salary.”
  • Right now, Mindy is leaving everything to Tina Fey. “I just think she would spend it in interesting and responsible ways.”
  • Shauna covered for Jeremy with his patients. “I told them you were helping a little black kid.”