This is the last we’re going to hear from The Mindy Project this year, and come 2013, it might be a slightly different beast, so I’m going to go ahead and look at “Josh and Mindy’s Christmas Party” as the end of an era. Not just because arguably my favorite character (the ridiculous douche-boyfriend character of Josh) got disposed of this week, but because this episode summed up how tonally schizophrenic and tonally jarring this show has been so far, down to the tacked-on sweet ending that got the whole ensemble together for some joyous Spanish-language karaoke.
Much as it did for the Thanksgiving episode, this show is trying to cram the bond between its characters down our throat. It just hasn’t come close to earning that. Mindy and Danny’s relationship is just intriguing enough that their scenes together were the highlight of the episode. It doesn’t totally follow that Danny was such a condescending jerk just one episode ago and is hand-making gingerbread houses for Mindy now, but I guess he’s supposed to be a man of hidden talents and kind of a repressed nice guy. I can deal with it, because Chris Messina can sell it, and his “far-off romantic option” chemistry with Mindy is strong (her proposal of a suicide pact if neither can marry in five years was the best part of the episode).
It’s still hard to care about the rest of the ensemble, though, and having Jeremy lead everyone in karaoke to cheer Mindy up isn’t going to bring me around—the moment’s way too forced, way too formulaic and cheesy, and just doesn’t feel organic. I know it’s a little rough for me to keep ragging on this point, since we’ve had plots devoted to the supporting characters, but none of them have come close to clicking for me thus far.
Plus, the awkward conflict that almost drives everyone to flee Mindy’s Christmas party is the latest example of this show’s headache-inducing approach to plot twists. Much like “Teen Patient,” this episode is shooting for relatively grounded territory—it turns out Josh is cheating on Mindy and has another long-term girlfriend who he’s failed to break up with (his protests that he’s been trying to are vaguely plausible, but obviously not forgivable). Mindy has to deal with the fact that her serious boyfriend is cheating on her, but also with the fact that she is the other woman, although through no fault of her own. The twist is a little hacky and obviously designed to get Josh out of the picture so Mindy can have some new romantic plots, but it’s not overly sensational.
At least not until Josh’s other girlfriend Heather (Ellie Kemper, in a Subtle Sexuality reunion with her buddy Kaling) shows up at the party to deliver an epic beat-down to Mindy and broadcast the embarrassing news to all her coworkers. After a bit of girl-fighting, things conclude with Heather in handcuffs because Shauna’s dating a cop (how useful) and the whole thing is just a ridiculous farce. Now, if this show wants to be a madcap farce, that’s fine, but that’ll pretty much strip it of whatever relevance it might be shooting for regarding Mindy as a professional woman trying to date and facing up to real-life problems. If Mindy’s just going to be in crazy fights every week, maybe we should drop the doctor’s office setting altogether.
Whatever, Josh is gone, everyone else is friends, Danny is nice to Mindy, and now she can date more famous actors for one episode and get into some silly hijinks to try and get their attention. Just to be clear: I don’t have a problem with cartoonish shows in general. I just think that this is a show that would benefit from being way, way less cartoony.
- Mindy hated Danny’s last party playlist: “There was no Rihanna on it, it was three hours of listening to...Jakob Dylan’s dad?” Sigh.
- Morgan takes a bite of Danny’s gingerbread house. “Hey, that’s not for eating.” “Well, it's too small for living in.”
- Danny’s poor attempts at lying to Heather on the phone were pretty funny, especially his flipping from flower shop to barbershop as place of business.
- Mindy says Josh has to leave for a sports emergency. “Kobe Bryant has been shot.”
- Mindy and Heather both have key necklaces. “Except hers is encrusted with diamonds and mine just features diamonds.”