The Mindy Project: “Frat Party”
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The Mindy Project: “Frat Party”

I have a friendly piece of advice for The Mindy Project as it winds down its first season and gets ready for its second: Stop ending episodes with brawls. What is this, the 50th time Mindy and pals have gone to some crazy party, and it has ended in a fistfight? Sometimes, it’s girl-on-girl, sometimes, it’s a bro throwdown, and sometimes, it involves complete strangers. But it is the button favored the most by the Mindy writing staff.

I understand that this is a very kinetic, silly show and that it began with Mindy riding a bicycle into a swimming pool and getting arrested. She makes poor decisions and a bit of a fool of herself. And it’s not like the workplace setting has ever led to good material—Mindy definitely has more fun when Mindy gets drunk, either alone or with the gang, and gets herself into some awkward situation.

But “Mindy goes to a crazy party” cannot be the A-plot of episodes anymore. It just can’t. Especially when the party is as bland and formless as this one. It’s a frat party! Oh, there’s some business about no cups, but mostly, it’s just an excuse for Mindy to feel old and uncool, which is ridiculous, because she’s a smart, confident, professional woman and wouldn’t look out of place in most social events. The one place she would is at a frat party, because it’s ludicrous for her to keep going to such things.

She gets dragged there by Katie, a Columbia student she’s mentoring (played by Francia Raisa of The Secret Life Of The American Teenager), as some sort of rebound from her relationship with Casey, which hits the skids when he reveals he’s going to Haiti for do-gooder work. I had problems with every aspect of this storyline.

Shipping Casey off to Haiti to clear out that romantic arc? Fine with me. Mindy can’t have acrimonious break-ups with all of her boyfriends, and Casey is not a bad guy, so it makes sense that he’d just have to vanish to another country (much as Seth Rogen did earlier this year). Mindy’s reaction seemed very sane to me: He wants to do long-distance for a year, but she says she doesn’t have a year to devote to that. Katie and Casey both seem to think she’s being irrational or immature or crazy, but she’s not—that’s the decision I’d come to, at least, and who cares what do-gooder behavior he’s up to?

Mindy goes on a depressed little bender as a result, ending up at the frat party with Tom (Bill Hader), her ex-fiancée, who has fallen on hard times since the woman he left Mindy for left him for someone else. Really, it’s just an excuse to get Hader back in the mix, because we know he’s not a real option for Mindy (unless he suddenly leaves Saturday Night Live). He does fine, of course, but his is not the most interesting character, and having him be drunk at a frat party doesn’t suddenly change that.

The end of the episode is the most perplexing: Casey essentially proposes to Mindy, and they start making out in an elevator, solving the long-distance problem. But they aren’t going to get married. This show doesn’t function if Mindy is married—it barely functions if she’s not single. So why pretend otherwise? I guess this is meant to set up a more dramatic finale, but Casey is such a non-entity, it’s going to be impossible to shock me with his departure. No offense to Anders Holm, who is doing what he can, but the character has never been more than a pleasant distraction.

The rest of “Frat Party” revolves around Danny and Jeremy trying to woo Morgan back into the fold, and it’s as nonsensical and frustrating as a Morgan plot usually is, since it hinges on his illogical approach to everything. They offer him more money, but he wants to stay with the Duplass brothers because they’re nicer to him, so there’s a little bit of dancing Danny and Jeremy have to do. Honestly, I’d be way more interested in a plot featuring Danny’s ex-wife, who is apparently just back in his life now (her picture is on his desk), but I guess Chloe Sevigny was only booked for three episodes.

There are enough loose ends here that the finale should be at least a mildly interesting affair. But Mindy ends this season as confused as it began, relying on a few dull, repetitive tropes, and I’m less and less convinced there’s anything that’s going to change about that.

Stray observations:

  • I liked the shower scene with Mindy and Casey. The show is not bad at well-observed couple moments that devolve into slapstick.
  • Mindy sings Casey’s praises. “He looks like the villain in a National Lampoon movie, but he's into Haiti.”
  • “You know what would cheer you up?” “McDonalds.”
  • Tom has an eyebrow ring now. “It bleeds a lot! I have, like, no pillowcases at my house.”
  • He and Mindy agree they’re too old for the party. “If I have to hear the n-word in another song...”
Filed Under: TV, The Mindy Project

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