The Mindy Project: “In The Club” 
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The Mindy Project: “In The Club” 

So from my cursory internet researching I found that this is actually the fourth Mindy Project episode. The third, called “Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist,” will air in a couple weeks and seems to be centered around more bickering between everyone’s favorite new platonic work friends. Since we got a healthy dose of that last week, I was happy the show decided on “In The Club” this week, which gave us more of a taste of the group dynamics within the office, expanded some of the side characters a little bit, and was generally a rollicking good time.

The episode didn’t feature Stephen Tobolowsky (whose energy probably wouldn’t have fit in well in the club scene) but otherwise worked on getting everyone else at least one funny/interesting moment, failing only one of them—Jeremy, who remains a bit of a frustrating stereotype. I enjoyed a couple of his lines in the doctor’s office, where he’s bragging about a hookup but won’t pretend that he hooked up with a supermodel (“I think you need to be booking domestic covers to be called a supermodel”), and later claiming that his tan is called “cream of oak.”

But the whole dashing English scoundrel thing points exactly nowhere in terms of long-term likability. He can’t just be a bored womanizer, but all he does in this episode is try to hook up with the bride at a bachelorette party (a storyline that’s too uninteresting for us to actually see). Sure, he experiences self-doubt and is eventually warded off spoiling the poor girl’s night by Morgan (more on him later), but I don’t know that there’s much to Jeremy as a reformed scoundrel either. I don’t know. It’s not a knock on Ed Weeks, per se, it’s just that he lacks a much-needed hook.

Morgan, though, is obviously going to be a secret weapon on this show. It’s not like there’s anything particularly new about the character—he’s kooky, he has weird bags of goodies and oddly specific advice, he’s threatening but in a friendly way. But Ike Barinholtz has just the right vibe with his perfect mix of zoned-out and intense, and he’s got terrific comedic chemistry with almost every character. He’s mostly paired with Jeremy this week, and he totally makes it work. A couple of weird touches were inspired—pretending to be a bathroom attendant, he greets someone with “Hello, welcome. Welcome to the bathroom.” Later, he comforts a dejected Jeremy by producing a red lollipop.

There’s nothing particularly surprising or innovative going on here, and I’ll admit that the dark bite I noticed in the pilot episode isn’t really present here. Mindy is confronted with an extremely painless decision—go with a bunch of NBA stars and a guy who’s interested in her to some after-party, or continue to hang out with her work friends. I mean, if she ditched her work friends, it really wouldn’t be that big of a deal. They weren’t in any life-threatening circumstances. Sure, Mindy has to ward off a Ukrainian pimp from recruiting Betsy, but apart from that, I didn’t quite buy her moral dilemma or that her ultimate call to stay with her friends was so selfless.

Everyone’s slotting in neatly to pre-assigned character roles, too. Betsy is the wide-eyed innocent, and Shauna is a tough New York broad, and both Zoe Jarman and Amanda Setton are fine and dandy in those roles (I especially think Setton is doing a good job keeping Shauna from being too over-the-top). Danny reveals a talent for dancing this time around, and I’m sure there are many more fascinating layers beneath his thick shell (with Shauna a potential love interest for him in the short-term, and Mindy more of a long-term possibility).

As Erik noted in his What’s On Tonight, this show is one of those New York-set comedies that is very obviously not filmed in New York. The good ones always make it work (I swear, this show is using the same “New York City street” set as its 20th Century Fox studio-mate How I Met Your Mother) but it can be a little distracting. The presence of Stat and Baron Davis (who isn’t even going to play this year), plus Danny Granger (shouldn’t he be guesting on Parks & Recreation or something?) wasn’t quite enough to solve that problem, but in terms of sports cameos, they could have been more lifeless, I suppose.

Mindy actually didn’t get a ton to do this week, but I liked the creepy vibe of her new love interest Josh (Tommy Dewey). So many shows will throw a recurring romantic option at its star and have him be either endlessly charming (perhaps with one weird implausible flaw) or completely infuriating (in a way that secretly turns our hero on). Josh comes on too strong, makes some weird missteps in conversation, and at no point really turns on the charm, but still, he’s a normal-looking guy who’s interested in Mindy and doesn’t threaten to murder her, and often, that’s enough of a reason to go get drinks with someone. As much as this show hews to formula a lot of the time, Kaling has enough of a fresh take on some matters to keep things interesting.

Stray observations:

  • Mindy spent the weekend watching Amelie and woke up having spilled red wine all over herself. “I thought I had been shot.”
  • Among Morgan’s club paraphernalia: prestige fragrances, Sudoku, and an egg beater to make his woman an omelet.
  • Mindy pauses at the club’s entrance, dazzled by the extravagance. “If everyone took a big dramatic moment at the doorway, the club would never fill up!” the bouncer yells.
  • Betsy gets disgusting berry liquor bottle service by mistake. “I think they pour this stuff on maxi-pads in commercials,” Danny snarks.
  • Baron Davis’ favorite Tom Hanks romcom is Splash.  “I have a fantasy about going underwater and risking your life for love.”
  • Mindy tells Shauna not to worry about Danny. “I think he’s into weird stuff like biting. I think he cries when he has sex.” 

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