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

The Mindy Project: “Harry & Mindy”

Illustration for article titled The Mindy Project: “Harry & Mindy”

So last week’s Mindy (which Myles did a bang-up job reviewing) was, I thought, one of the strongest of the season. I know this can’t just be a show about Mindy going on date after date with guys who have some specific problem, but that’s definitely what it does best. Still, “Harry & Mindy” sticks to that formula and is another winner. We are now in reboot territory, and even though there’s no discernible differences yet (Amanda Setton is gone, but no sign of Beth Grant) it’s hard not to get excited considering how dire this show had gotten.

“Harry & Mindy” picks up right where the last episode left off—Mindy’s going on a date with Jamie, Danny just broke up with eyepatch girl (farewell, Allison Williams, we hardly knew ye) and everyone still thinks Jamie and best friend Lucy (Eva Amurri Martino) are made for each other. Mindy resolves to solve all her problems by setting Lucy up with Danny and going on a double date. Now, this is actually a ridiculous idea, since surely the chief concern should be separating Jamie from Lucy. But then we wouldn’t have a plot, and I suppose Danny is acting heartbroken enough that Mindy might be slightly worried about him.

I saw the date going two ways: Either Danny and Lucy immediately hit it off, or Danny makes an utter fool of himself. It’s the former, although there is a decent little twist to it—Danny is kind of a wreck and can’t stop talking about his ex (he’s triggered by the sight of a king salmon mounted on the wall) but Lucy nonetheless engages and the sparks start flying. This puts Mindy and Jamie to shame, and also awakens Jamie’s love for Lucy, because, surprise surprise, everyone’s right and Jamie & Lucy really are like Harry & Sally.

The date scene is a nicely staged mini-farce. Mindy’s pathetic attempts to offer Jamie food really made me laugh for some reason, and his attempts to self-Heimlich on a parking meter outside were terrific physical comedy. Novak kinda made my skin crawl with his character (he was more charming in the first episode, but he was such a weirdo in the date scene) so I didn’t really care about his ultimate realization of love, or Lucy’s equal glee. I basically sympathized with Mindy and Danny (who is making out with Lucy five seconds before Jamie proclaims his love) who walk off bemoaning another weird experience they’ve shared.

The rom-com stuff is still a little much. Mindy is obsessed with the Empire State Building because of An Affair To Remember and Sleepless In Seattle (amusingly, a clip from King Kong gets cut in there) so she thinks it’s the most romantic place on Earth. Since the characters of Sleepless In Seattle only have that obsession because of a movie they watched, it’s fun to see this stupid pop-cultural virus get passed from generation to generation. To its credit, the episode hints at how ridiculous Mindy’s love of a crowded tourist trap is, first with an opening sequence where a security guard (played by Common) thinks she’s a terrorist and then in the closing scene where the gathered crowd initially thinks Jamie’s in love with her.

But come on! At the end of the episode, Danny takes Mindy for a sympathy slice of pizza at his favorite place and Mindy can barely bring herself to step inside, eyeing it like it’s been the scene of a recent crime. But the set is dressed up to look like a stereotypical romantic Italian joint, cheap and cheerful, even though the pizza is supposedly the worst in the city. I know the kind of place Kaling was going for—this just isn’t it (this show should really be shooting in New York). Nitpicking, but it robbed what was a good final scene the chance of being a great one.


Still, I like the way Mindy and Danny’s relationship is progressing. The less they’re in open conflict, the more they have an understanding of each other’s idiosyncrasies, the better. Still, this isn’t a show that only stars Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina, and that’s going to be a problem moving forward. There’s a whole workplace ensemble that has to get paid every week. Sometimes, stories will be marginally funny like Jeremy teaching Morgan how to pick up women. But with Grant being added to the mix, there’ll probably be more and more workplace stuff on the horizon, and that has been the death knell of Mindy so far. So I can’t even really call myself cautiously optimistic. We’ll see. I live in hope.

Stray observations:

  • “It’s cool if you’re into me. Kevin Garnett once bought me a Coke at a PF Chang’s.” “You’re not helping yourself.” I guess Common’s a Knicks fan.
  • Mindy is horrified at Danny sleeping in his office. “Put some pants on, I can see the outline of your penis!”
  • Danny’s favorite Real Housewives (which Mindy can apparently summon with one remote click) is Miami.
  • Jeremy tries to post-game with Morgan. “What happened, did you strike out? My first sports analogy!”