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The Mindy Project has lost all sense of romance

The Mindy Project
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The relationships during this final season of The Mindy Project make so little sense that it almost seems like the show is trying to...say something by forcing characters into relationships that seem to have zero foundation. “Doctors Without Boundaries,” at the very least, acknowledges the unconvincing nature of each of the season’s relationships when Morgan and Jeremy both admit to Jody that the only reason why they’re with Tamra and Anna is because they wore the women down until they finally agreed to be with them. They encourage Jody to take the same ridiculous, sexist, presumptive route with Mary Hernandez (Ana Ortiz, a damn delight even though her comedic talents aren’t fully utilized on this show), and the worst subplot of this increasingly confounding season takes flight...in a very forced way.


Jeremy and Anna are at least bound by their similar, highly specific interests. Morgan and Tamra have little foundation for their relationship, but that becomes a part of the story in “Doctors Without Boundaries,” which sees Tamra diving head-first into Morgan’s Siberian culture and family religion, which requires her to wear traditional, scratchy garb, follow rigid gender roles, and cook pickled fish and jellied meats. Neither Tamra nor Morgan are particularly into the traditions, but Morgan goes along with it because he thinks it’s what Tamra wants, and Tamra goes along with it because she feels that their relationship has been so nontraditional that it could benefit from the foundation that a specific cultural tradition could provide. They agree to drop it once that comes to light, but there isn’t much by the way of resolution. We’re this far into Tamra and Morgan’s arc, and I’m still not buying this relationship no matter how hard the show tries to sell it.

I also don’t buy that Tamra would take on all these traditions to begin with. Even though she does explain her reasoning, it all seems so wildly out of character. But then again, the writers have been so flimsy in their development of Tamra as a character that it’s also hard to say exactly what is in character for her. The only thing that remains consistent about Tamra is that Xosha Roquemore is hilarious. Her delivery of “hello, ACLU?” in the cold open makes a quick moment very funny, and her line readings and emphasis in general are always elevating her lines.

But as I’ve hinted at, “Doctors Without Boundaries” suffers from the sheer ridiculousness of the Jody/Mary developments. Jody asks her on a date, and she agrees, and then they go on a date that we don’t even see, but Mary lets us know it was indeed “fun,” and that she has “never been carried over a puddle before,” which, yes, is funny and extremely specific to who Jody is, but the date recap still doesn’t really provide anything to latch onto that would make this coupling easier to digest. She invites him up for a “second date” (sex) and then it at least becomes clear why she was willing to go on a date in the first place: She wants something casual and unattached, because she’s leaving the country for three years to be a part of Physicians On The Frontlines. She assumes Jody is on the same page, but he clearly isn’t. So he goes back to The Termite Club (Morgan and Jeremy’s name for themselves), and they tell him that he needs to play into her fears, need to make her afraid of her future and think he’s the only viable option for a life partner.

Jeremy and Morgan effectively take romance out of the equation with their abrasive and absurd tactics, and I guess that’s a big part of what’s perplexing me about this final season of The Mindy Project. It isn’t romantic in the least. But it does seem like it’s trying to be? When Jody’s fear approach doesn’t work on Mary (duh, she sees right through that bullshit), he then tries to do a big “romantic” gesture, inspired by Tamra, who tells him that Morgan didn’t wear her down; she wants to be with him because he supports her. So Jody tries to support Mary by bursting into one of her deliveries and announcing that he wants to go with her to Africa. Now, I’m all for an enemies-to-lovers arc, but this one has happened so fast and so haphazardly—and with so little character development of Mary—that it just doesn’t work. They hated each other a few episodes ago, and now they’re going abroad together? Yeah, Mary says yes! And her patient, in the middle of trying to deliver her baby without pooping, informs us that Mary often complains about being lonely, which is a lazy and heavy-handed attempt at contextualizing her response. Mary is so broadly written that the writers can pretty much throw her into any situation, but even the weak foundation we have for the character suggests that none of this makes any sense at all. Something this show doesn’t seem to understand is that just because a character says they’re doing a big romantic gesture doesn’t automatically make it romantic. All the romance on this show is forced and fake, and it would be more compelling if that seemed at all intentional, like the show was trying to puncture a hole in the notion of grand romantic love, but there’s nothing tangible to suggest that’s what’s happening.


Mindy’s plotline in the episode is the best by default, and it actually does have some strong moments that at least feel grounded in character. After she finds out that Annette is undergoing cancer treatment for a malignant lump in her breast, her immediate instinct is to tell Danny. Annette doesn’t want to worry him, so she makes Mindy swear not to tell. But as the grandmother of her child, Mindy feels compelled to at least be there for Annette and help her make decisions about her treatment. In this case, Mindy’s need to take control of other people’s lives ends up being a strength rather than a flaw. It’s also rare to see Mindy actually keep a secret, but she does this time, which reveals how serious this all is. She convinces Annette to get a will and to take her health seriously. It’s a little dark for this show, but the storyline also provides some of the biggest laughs, especially thanks to Annette and Dot’s very special friendship. All in all, it tracks much better than the Morgan/Tamra storyline and the the Jody/Mary storyline, because it feels real, rooted in character development, playing into existing dynamics and details.

Stray observations

  • Oh boy, this show might have the worst gay jokes on television? Collette’s comment about gay men being mean funny and lesbians being nice funny is outdated, stupid, and not even funny?
  • That being said: “Priyanka Nope-ra and Uggo Mortensen”
  • Jody’s fiddle playing killed me.
  • Dot threatens to take away Annette’s Costco privileges—harsh!
  • Are gauchos really coming back? If so, I’m ready.

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