The Mindy Project: “Danny's Friend”
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The Mindy Project: “Danny's Friend”

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The Mindy Project

“Danny's Friend”

Season 1, Episode 18

Okay, we have to talk about that fart. I basically couldn’t concentrate on this terrible episode of Mindy, partly because it was a rather dull bore, but also because of the fart, which happened in the cold open and completely blew my mind. We’re watching a pull-up competition in the office—Danny does 38 and gets plenty of cheers, then Jeremy does 39 without breaking a sweat, so far so good, office dynamics working fine. Then Morgan steps up, and we know what’s going to happen, he’ll pull out the chin-up bar and fall down and it’ll be comical. Which is what he does… but then when he lands, he just farts. And the fart just sounds like a classic canned sound effect of a fart that I could probably conjure up on my computer if you gave me five seconds.

I laughed very loudly at this fart, partially because it was so surprising and partially because it was so audacious—Mindy’s a silly show, but it’s hard to bust out a non-ironic fart joke like that. Parks & Recreation does it well with Jerry, but this came completely out of nowhere. God, that fart. If only this whole episode, and this show in general, could just completely embrace its silliness and go for more moments like that. I don’t know if it’d work, but it’d be something.

“Danny’s Friend” was a really dumb episode. Like many a Mindy, it had no idea how to balance its A and B-plots, just sort of smushing them up against each other and not letting them intersect in any kind of meaningful way. The main plot concerned, well, Danny’s friend, an Italian-American person from Staten Island who was in no way a stereotype and was played by Bill Tangradi, whom I don’t know but apparently he was in Argo and one of the Twilight movies.

This guy Stevie is supposed to be a wrong side of the tracks kid but he’s dressed all wrong and has the wrong hair—he looks like a bouncer from the Step Up movies or something. Not completely wrong, but something didn’t seem quite right with him. The hair, the goatee, everything didn’t really click for me (Chris Messina is a far easier sell, but we knew that already). Danny’s been giving him meds on the sly, and Jeremy contracts Mindy to deal with it, so there’s a botched intervention and then a trip to Staten Island and every character gets a look-in for a couple minutes at least, but really only Danny and Morgan get significant screen time.

Isn’t it always how that goes these days? Morgan, who is a big troublemaker who misunderstands everything that happens, is always along for the ride and floating around in the background creating chaos and saying weird things. He’s certainly not a compelling enough character, and his “random” humor hasn’t turned him into the scene-stealing phenomenon the show obviously thinks he deserves to be. Danny is just there to be a grump and for Mindy to bounce sarcastic lines off of.

The plot really didn’t make sense. Stevie gets frisky with Mindy at one point, mostly off-screen, but she thinks it’s a ruse, but it’s not really, and then they go to his house, and his mother’s there, and they look through some albums. Turns out Danny used to be fat, which is just about the oldest trope in the book, but hey, anything to give these characters some shading. Mindy deals with the problem… I guess? Nothing really follows, but there are antics throughout, enough to fill 22 minutes (barely).

The B-plot makes even less sense. Ellie Kemper is back as Heather, who once got in a big fight with Mindy in the episode where she broke up with Josh. I can’t even really accuse this of being a limp excuse to bring back a big guest star since Kemper isn’t really that famous. But this really doesn’t have any logic to it. She’s applying for an apartment in the building, and Mindy doesn’t want her in there, and then they have to go see Dan Castellaneta and win him over. Danny and Morgan and others are in a lot of these scenes with Mindy, but that’s the only link it has to the other plot, and in terms of jokes, well, they’re thin on the ground. At one point Mindy gets a cake to the face, just for something to happen, I suppose.

Oh well. This one was just a plain ol’ miss.

Stray observations:

  • Danny realizes Morgan rumbled him. “I knew I smelled Michael Jordan cologne.”
  • Mindy refuses to go into witness protection. “I will not move to St. Paul and start a new life as a travel agent. It is a dying industry!”