I almost thought this would be the episode where things turned a corner. It’s been a bad couple of weeks for Mindy, and a lot of critics seem to be writing off the show completely, but what with all this talk of cast shakeups and retooling, I still think there’s time to turn things around. Maybe. “Two To One” doesn’t start badly at all—I laughed at a bunch of dumb jokes, like Mindy getting pissed at the hospital night cleaner for bitching about her cat peeing in her husband’s shoes. “Okay, Doris, we get it. You’re married.”
Then came the slightly unexpected, but welcome twist—Stephen Tobolowsky’s Dr. Shulman has retired, so I guess the show really wasted a bunch of paychecks having him in their credits even though he only appeared in one episode past the pilot (seriously, just one). It’s especially funny since they went to the trouble of reshooting the pilot with Tobolowsky after he replaced Richard Schiff, but I think it was more the role, less the actor, that was the problem. Shulman didn’t have any weird quirk or twist to him—he was just going to sit around flabbergasted as his young partners bickered at each other, and that wouldn’t be fun for anyone. So, goodbye, Tobolowsky! May your character-actor skills be better employed somewhere else!
With Shulman gone, there’s even more bickering that rushes in to fill the void. Jeremy, Danny, and Mindy all have plans for Shulman’s office and for the future of the firm and a pattern quickly develops—Danny makes all the decisions, Jeremy votes with him because he hates making decisions, and Mindy gets ignored. This immediately seemed reductive and petty to the extreme. Yes, of course, we’re constantly reminded that Danny doesn’t respect Mindy (although secretly maybe he kinda does).
So maybe I can buy him making a unilateral decision about taxicab ads or something, but his whole attitude of completely marginalizing Mindy and encouraging her to take the day off and go get drinks with her friends seemed a bit much. It almost seemed like he was behaving ridiculously just to prove a dumb story point… oh wait, that’s exactly what was happening. This is a frequent problem for The Mindy Project: It’s having trouble nailing its characters down because they act so wildly inappropriately all the time. If Danny wasn’t a complete gigantic jerk, then how could Mindy stand up to him and assert her independence? With better-drawn characters, things don’t need to be so over-the-top, but The Mindy Project has had some trouble in that department.
The whole thing was bugging me enough before Mindy went out to get drinks with her gal pals and go shopping and bitch about the misogynist assholes at her job and the whole thing felt like it had been written on a napkin. I have no problem with the general dynamic of this plot, it’s just that there’s no meat to it. The whole thing was geared towards the simplistic climax where Mindy proves her worth to the dudes by showing up the evil midwives and rescuing the practice from losing all its clients, or something.
The midwives (Mark and Jay Duplass, the latter making his television debut as far as I know) are another problem. Again, the concept is kind of cute—two handsome holistic birth technicians luring clients away from meat-and-potatoes OB/GYNs. But I just described the entire plot to you. There’s nothing more to it. The Duplass brothers, in one day, manage to put the practice into a financial crisis, and after one speech by Mindy about how midwives are no help in a crisis, everything’s back to normal.
It’s all helped along by genuinely funny moments and a handful of good lines, but none of the characters, not even Mindy at this point, can anchor a scene. Their behavior is always changing to fit whatever wacky circumstances are required. It says something that I immediately perked up for the last scene where Josh visits Mindy at the hospital. Complete non sequitur of a scene, for sure, but Josh is the only character I consistently enjoy on this show, and I think that’s why he keeps getting written into episodes where he doesn’t quite fit.
Like I said, I’m not giving up hope yet. There’s retooling to come. We all remember how iffy the first few episodes of The Office were. But I’m officially bummed out.
- Mindy and her gal pals haven’t agreed on anything since they all decided Colin Firth was “bangable.” Help! I’m stuck in a timewarp!
- Morgan lurked in the background of every single scene this week. “I’ll go to a quarry after work, you’ll have rocks coming out your friggin’ eyes.”
- Jeremy can’t find work at another practice. “Men are too threatened by my good looks, and women find me a constant erotic distraction.” Can’t go to England either. “I’m too tan! They’ll be merciless!”
- Biggest laugh of the night? Josh saying “Indianapolis has a jazz festival? Gross!”