Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Danny’s back, but The Mindy Project’s troubles aren’t over

Illustration for article titled Danny’s back, but The Mindy Project’s troubles aren’t over

Any excitement over Danny’s return after his lengthy absence from The Mindy Project is pretty much squashed by this episode’s end, as our favorite sitcom couple is at yet another crossroads. How can the Danny we know and love be so clueless as to expect Mindy to immediately want to have more kids, without having even talked to her about it? Or to be willing to relegate her career off to the side as a “hobby”?

Fortunately, before that, we also get the long-awaited return of Mindy’s parents (wouldn’t they be more excited about meeting their grandson for the first time?), and their introduction to Annette. The culture clash between the two families is the best part of the episode: Mindy’s higher-class Indian parents and Annette and Dot as the steadfast Staten Island parental figures. The timing of this episode is appropriate: As Thanksgiving approaches, we all get more apprehensive about spending time with our families, because parents bring out issues in ourselves like no one else can. For Danny, time spent with his dad and his tight relationship with his mother appears to have stirred up all sorts of events from his childhood that he now doesn’t want to pass on to his son. (Parenthood brings out these deep-rooted issues as well.) Mindy’s childhood was much more blessed (she still gets an allowance!), but we can also see the strong wills of her parents, and how she might be inclined to rebel against them: The fact that her mother wants to have the wedding in Boston, for example.

These conflicts make the cross-family pairings of Annette and Mindy and Turan and Danny even more effective. After many episodes of being at odds, Mindy and her future MIL have now come to a wonderful understanding, with Mindy calling Annette “Ma.” Mindy’s dad knows the danger of having someone you love give up their dreams, and his conversation with his future SIL convinces Danny to crash Mindy’s Later, Baby seminar.

During their fight, Mindy calls Danny out for being a bully, and she certainly doesn’t seems to be the one making the decisions at the end of the episode. It’s as if all the valuable points that Peter brought up last week—all the concessions she’s making, and what she’s giving up—have not been addressed with Danny at all. Again, The Mindy Project is taking us farther than most sitcoms ever would, because so many will-they/won’t-theys just end with the the hookup, and never realize that the happily-ever-after is the hardest part. It is an absolute challenge to actually fuse your life with someone else’s in marriage. Mindy’s perspective seems totally reasonable: She wants to have a career, and doesn’t see how Leo will suffer for it. But from Danny’s perspective, he seems just as reasonable: The two had an agreement on how Leo would be raised, and now Mindy is changing it. The Mindy Project spent most of the first weeks of this season deftly setting this situation up. The conflict may be long-simmering, but that only makes it more relatable as these two need to find a solution that will work for both of them. Danny, as old-fashioned and traditional as he is, definitely comes off the worst in the exchange, by scoffing at the completely reasonable suggestion by Mindy that if he wants Leo to have family at home so much, he should give up his own job. It would be great if that’s where The Mindy Project finally landed, because this is not an unusual option anymore, and would definitely work out in this case.

All in all, it’s heady stuff for a sitcom, effectively framed by writer Charlie Grandy in a variety of funny moments, most of which are listed out below. But just when we think Danny has seen the light of reality, he calls Mindy’s career a ”hobby” and starts speculating about another kid out of nowhere. Maybe Mindy is just tired of fighting when she acquiesces, but it’s still troubling. We only have a few episodes left until the mid-season break, which you wouldn’t think would be enough time for the show to pull off the wedding, but it’s been a pretty eventful season so far. But it’s also looking likely that we’ll be left with another Mindy/Danny cliffhanger over the break.

Stray observations

  • “Does your mother have a problem with beautiful people?”
  • Jody’s alma mater: Southern Legacy University, featuring The John Wilkes Booth School Of Political Creationism
  • Richie’s right, Mindy has no female friends.
  • Appreciate Annette’s shoutout to the fact that Danny has been married before. His previous marriage got pulled out occasionally to explain his cold feet about this one, but since then it’s been kind of swept under the rug.
  • Mindy aims to be Tamra’s height and weight by the wedding. The discrepancy between those two wedding dresses was hilarious.
  • Morgan’s wounds: disgusting and constant. He also seems to have only one fancy outfit.
  • Loved Jody running toward the door.
  • Remember when Morgan and Annette almost dated?
  • Danny’s middle names are all after the gospels, not even counting confirmation names.
  • Mindy’s best outfit: That sequined pink dress she wore in the office when having that first conversation with Jody.