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Anna and Jeremy's decouplement outshines The Mindy Project's build to Mindy's divorce

Illustration for article titled Anna and Jeremy's decouplement outshines The Mindy Project's build to Mindy's divorce
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The Mindy Project wastes no time pushing Mindy and Ben to divorce. Ben says the d-word outright by the end of “A Romantical Decouplement,” and Mindy doesn’t skip a beat before agreeing. But whereas the tension in their marriage is subtle and unnerving in the premiere, the second episode goes too obvious with their conflict, making it feel like the characters are going through the motions rather than just living out their lives.

Mindy and Ben are in couples therapy at the start of the episode, and their problems outlined in the premiere persist. Mindy isn’t present enough in their relationship. She’s phoning it in for therapy, too, failing to do the assigned homework and then trying to bullshit her way through it. Mindy, of course, seeks out advice from her coworkers, asking them if they think she’s a bad wife. Everyone has her back except for Jody, who at first says she’s a bad wife because she’s too feminine? It’s a perfectly in-character thing for Jody to say, but it just underscores how unfunny his most unlikable traits are. He later explains that she’s a bad wife because she prioritized her own comforts and interests over Ben’s. It’s not really a new revelation that Mindy Lahiri is selfish.

Though it takes us a while to get there, Ben’s final assessment of what’s wrong in their marriage packs a punch. Mindy isn’t in love with him; she’s in love with the idea of being married. Ben comes to this conclusion after lying to Mindy about a potential job opportunity in Philly, his attempt to test her investment (playing manipulative games like that isn’t exactly an emotionally mature choice on his part though). It’s a huge moment for Mindy and for the show, which has put the idea of marriage on a pedestal since it first began. It’s easy for us to see that Mindy has romanticized married life, but Ben saying it in such explicit terms is powerful, questioning the show’s entire premise. Mindy may not be showing a lot of personal growth when it comes to her selfishness, but her changing attitude about marriage signals a huge change for the character.

The relationship drama between Anna and Jeremy actually manages to outshine Mindy and Ben’s problems this week, with both announcing that they are romantically decoupling and both trying to play it supremely cool. It’s easy to mistake Anna for a robot (in fact, the only person she connects with on a dating app turns out to be a sentient computer), so seeing her process the breakup adds layers to the character. She’s awkward and stiff, but she isn’t unfeeling. We’ve seen glimpses of her emotional vulnerability through her divorce from her cheating ex-husband. Even Anna’s reasons for wanting to leave Jeremy suggest she’s evolving. Anna is someone who is very comfortable with steadiness and familiarity, but she knows that about herself and doesn’t want to just settle for Jeremy without seeing what else is out there. This final season shows all of the characters questioning the very foundation of who they are and what they want.

Now that they’ve decided to decouple, she struggles to get back into the dating game. When she realizes she has a literal violent reaction to anyone who tries to touch her who isn’t Jeremy, she questions her decision to break up and goes to get him back. But Jeremy has already moved on to casual sex with someone else, so Anna burrows her feelings and lies to Jeremy about how she really feels. We’re used to seeing Jeremy heartbroken and insecure but not so much Anna, who is usually a fierce stone in the face of conflict. Theirs is another one of The Mindy Project’s brilliantly written breakups. Sometimes it takes leaving someone to realize how much you want to be with them. But Anna has to live with the consequences of her decision to leave Jeremy. He didn’t do anything wrong by sleeping with someone else, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt her.

And while everyone else is busy breaking up, Morgan and Tamra find themselves pulled back to each other. Throughout the episode, the wheels are turning in Tamra’s head. She gets visibly upset at the idea of Morgan moving to Philly. There’s a flash in her eyes when she hears Anna talk about Jeremy being the one. Tamra’s clearly wondering if she closed that door too soon, and she shows up at Morgan’s apartment, kissing him and disappearing inside to the sounds of his 40 dogs. It’s a strange decision for Tamra to go back to Morgan but makes a little more sense in the context of her deciding to have a baby. Morgan is at least familiar, and he does genuinely care about her. There’s just a stiffness to this episode that makes most of the relationship developments feel hollow. The Mindy Project clearly needs to just get through this divorce before this final season can really find its footing.


Stray observations

  • Mindy asks her ex Cliff to be her divorce attorney.
  • Morgan’s turtleneck pulled over his neck brace is iconic.
  • Anna, inviting the gang to her girls’ night: “Hello, women colleagues!”
  • Anna, thanking the guy for the drink he bought her: “It was as intoxicating as the conversation: mildly.”
  • Since Mindy Lahiri is such a Real Housewives fan, I feel it is appropriate to make a quick comparison: Mindy being in love with the idea of marriage reminds me so much of Luann De Lesseps’ arc during the past two seasons of Real Housewives Of New York. At least Ben’s no Tom.