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

The Mindy Project: "Magic Morgan"

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What a weirdo episode.

After last week’s funny but flawed breakup episode, The Mindy Project pushes back into the zone of romantic comedy theory with pretty mixed results. The show throws a couple equations out in the A-plot (i.e. routine letting go stuff, and the idea of Magic Morgan as the penultimate boyfriend before marriage), introduces a new love interest, deals with the hiring of Adam Pally’s Peter last week and the clash between him and Danny, and puts Mindy and Morgan on a forced date that follows a farcical sexual harassment suit conversation. This is a lot for 22 minutes of screentime or whatever, and the episode must jump around to just get through it all.

Again, the show operates off a faulty premise: Considering Casey never left much of a mark on the show, to mourn his loss with such sorrow seems a waste of Mindy’s time and ours. Mindy’s sadness and requests for “heartache” days would work better if those requests were more outsized at the beginning and the rest of the episode were more pared down and tailored to the idea that when this kind of thing happens to Mindy, it always sets off a terrible chain of events. As it is, Mindy’s sadness feels misplaced, and more an excuse to do the storylines in the A-plot than their driver.

You can kind of see the way this all got put together: The idea of a sad Mindy trying to sleep with Morgan to capture his relatable talent for spurring on other people’s marriages (a curse people really seem to have) is funny. And the idea of Mindy and Morgan having to go on a date is also funny. But to transition from one to the other, the show enlists this unnecessary legal subplot and then completely under-delivers on the premise of a forced date.

Part of the tension of this show, and a number of other single-camera comedies operating at a perhaps a higher caliber than this one, is Mindy’s occasional turns as a very unpleasant person. Downplayed in the season’s first three episodes, Mindy’s unflattering qualities flare up again, as she objects to going on a meaningless date with someone she already knows and works with vs. paying $200,000, and then proceeds to text through that date.

The problem here is that there weren’t many laughs in this, especially on the date. Mindy behaves kind of like an asshole, and Morgan says some outrageous things. Boom. Done. I know that’s a problem some people have with this show and others, but I don’t really have a problem with people in comedies behaving terribly toward one another, especially when bad behavior involves self-aware characters. Texting and an awkward question isn’t much.


But hey, in the midst of all that, the episode delivers two big laughs and one nice moment. Morgan trying to rebuff Mindy’s advances in her apartment with all kinds of available props, eventually wrapping her up in a pizza box and pushing her away, was hilarious. ("Then let's just do this thing and release me from this hell!") A lot of the non-fisticuffs physical comedy on this show works, and here, the props were funny anyway. Ike Barinholtz and Mindy Kaling really sold a funny-goofy concept well. The other big one: Dr. Peter dabbing Mindy’s eyes with the pink g-string cracked me up. (“Am I never going to meet anybody?” “Maybe. I don’t know the future.”)

And then there is the moment in the quarry, with Mindy calling out that she misses Casey. Whether or not the show earns these moments, it does them well. Kaling knows how to pause and drag a pause out just long enough, between knowing she’ll say something and actually saying it, for those moments to hit right. Her calling out to Casey works quite well in this moment, so long as you don't think too hard about Casey.


Regardless, now we’re finally rid of Casey, and onto other things. The show’s been uneven, but more focused than last season in my estimation, so… perhaps good things are on the way?

Stray observations:

  • So we’re now four episodes deep, and not one has featured any of Mindy’s friends outside work. With Pally becoming a regular, presumably… the show will have a tighter work focus with the four doctors, rounded out by the staff in supporting roles? Possibly?
  • I know not all of y’all like Dr. Bro, but I really, really do. Part of this is a personal thing, which is that I went to a very fratty college, and Adam Pally’s fratty enthusiasm calls like a siren song to me. “We’ve got a tub birth to do. And if I may quote most of my t-shirts, ‘Let’s get wet, ladies.’”
  • You can never have a legal subplot about sexual harassment in a show like this because then it makes you think about all the other dubious behavior that gets glossed over with the wackier tone, like Peter touching Danny’s junk in the same episode.
  • The ongoing FatSteps jokes made me laugh also.
  • “You definitely look better than you did yesterday.” “Thank you. I bathed.”
  • “I fear the ocean out of respect."