The Mindy Project: “Pretty Man”
C+

The Mindy Project: “Pretty Man”

Mindy still struggles to be coherent every week, but this episode was at the very least intriguing. Not just because it featured Josh Meyers as sort-of romantic interest/gigolo Adam just a few months after his brother Seth Meyers popped up as a date of Mindy’s. And those two have a strong resemblance, too. I hope there’s some weird internal logic to it where this guy is the other guy’s long-lost brother and neither know the strange connection they share through this hilarious romantic encounter.

No, this episode mostly played off of Mindy and Danny in a slightly subtler way than usual and proved an interesting counterweight to the very sexy, very heady romantic antics going on in New Girl. Now, what’s happening there is a classic will-they-won’t-they romance, coming to the boil a lot faster than people predicted, and being explored with the kind of depth and sensitivity one doesn’t usually get on these kinds of shows (with plenty of silliness and fun mixed in, of course). I don’t know that Mindy/Danny will ever get to that point or be that interesting, and I don’t know that the show’s writers are particularly interested in exploring that anyway.

So their tension is more firmly rooted in the fact that they’re friends, which allows them to get in each other’s faces about their romantic interests without it being such a big deal. The main plot of this episode is surprisingly not that Mindy almost accidentally sleeps with a gigolo she meets at a bar. It’s that Danny, still dating Mindy’s buddy Alex, throws a dinner party at his house and doesn’t invite her. Now, as usual on The Mindy Project, this is a little too preposterous, but Danny’s stated reason at least gets Mindy to think about herself for a second—he hates the cavalcade of idiot guys she dates.

That’s not enough of a reason to not invite someone both you and your girlfriend are friends with to a dinner party, but whatever, I’m not Emily Post. But it is hard to argue that Mindy has comically bad luck and, as the first season winds to a close, we’ve only seen her in one serious relationship, and it turned out Josh had a secret girlfriend. Is this the status of the show for the rest of the series? Mindy just dating idiot after idiot, and when one idiot clicks (because Tommy Dewey was a surprisingly fun addition as Josh) the show just has to write him out under some ridiculous circumstances?

If so, that’s just another reason not to stick with this show, because it is not insightful enough about relationships and dating to lean on that crutch forever. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Mindy and Danny actually uniting as a couple, and Mindy’s singledom is quite crucial to her character. So really, Danny’s problem is quite an indictment of Mindy’s overall problem. If it’s going to stick on this path, it needs to get wiser and have its characters be more interesting, because it’s not enough to satirize the many tropes of 90s romantic comedies.

What even happens in this episode? Mindy invites herself and everyone to Danny’s nice party and ruins everything, breaking up Danny and Alex by revealing he used to be married (he was keeping that secret, which I guess is no good, but whatever) and embarrassing herself and everyone else when Adam reveals he’s a prostitute. He’s already freaked everyone out with a song about 9/11 (the funniest moment of the episode and one I wish had gone on a bit longer) anyway.

That’s about it. There isn’t even time for a B-plot and that’s fine because it’s not like the rest of the cast has anything to bring except background dialogue at this point. There’s some throwaway jokes about Jeremy hitting on women or Morgan being weird and gross, but they’re white noise at this point. The only really compelling material is Mindy and Danny’s weird chemistry; they’re never totally nice to each other but they do share a cute sort of understanding and interest in each other’s lives. It’s a new kind of flirty/platonic relationship that I highly approve of. But there just needs to be a lot more show built around it.

Stray observations:

  • Danny insists Mindy can’t come because his dinner party is so small. “I’m not even adding leaves to the table, that’s how small it is.” 
  • Adam hits Mindy up for payment a day after their encounter.  “I know, it’s the skeeziest part of my job.” “No it’s not!” 
  • Mindy calls to invite herself to Danny’s party. “Mindy, I’m with a patient.” “Okay well why did you pick up your phone? Stop being so obsessed with me!”
  • Beverly got one great line reminiscing about the time she used a male prostitute. “It was Christmastime during the war. They’d just hung Saddam…”

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