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

The Mindy Project makes the most of a trip to Texas

Illustration for article titled The Mindy Project makes the most of a trip to Texas

It’s hard to quantify, or qualify, exactly what Peter brings to The Mindy Project, but he livens it up just by being around. And has, really, from the first time he showed up. Adam Pally and Mindy Kaling have a great chemistry, certainly. But Peter also appeals to Mindy’s baser instincts, which most of the other characters on the show only want her to rise above. Peter is perfectly happy to hang out with Mindy and drink too many margaritas and eat too much barbecue. He’s still insightful enough to be helpful, but funny and wise enough to just let her be herself.

It also doesn’t hurt that both Pally and Kaling are not afraid to go full-on foolish, both committing to physical comedy this episode: like getting attacked by cactus and diving face first into a pool-noodle stand at a big box store. Episode author Lang Fisher, a former Onion writer, is emerging as one of the show’s best voices. She told the BBC last year, “Sometimes, there’s a tendency to protect female characters and to make their flaws precious characteristics like being klutzy or awkward. But I think when female characters on TV are allowed to have real objectionable flaws like being selfish or salacious or sociopathic, there’s nothing funnier.” Which explains why her version of Mindy goes a little darker, as she does this episode, demanding breakfast from Henry’s nanny and “sexually menacing” Diego (Santiago Cabrera), assuming he’s a pool boy. The episode title makes fun of the insanity of a heartbroken woman rebounding with a conveniently attractive and available stranger. In real life, this episode points out, the “pool boy” scenario just comes off as creepy to the intended.

Fisher also stated, “What I like the most about The Mindy Project is that even though every moment is bursting at the seams with hard jokes, our characters have real hearts and are grounded in a reality that the viewer can identify with.” Which is a nice summary of what I appreciate about the show as well. Even in this episode, where Mindy is pulled away from the practice, her family, almost everyone else in her life (except for one brief scene with Morgan, and an overdue appearance from Leo), she’s still steeped in the pain of Danny’s new relationship. But the novelty of Mindy in this new McMansion environment lets us see how funny she is, wherever she is, even when she’s only playing off of Peter (who, granted, is one of her best sparing partners).

The episode missed a step by failing to draw on the similarities between Mindy’s situation and Peter’s: Peter wants to stay home with Henry, but is afraid to tell Lauren, while Mindy’s refusal to stay home with Leo led to her split. But on a larger level, it shows that there are all kinds of ways to make a family. Mindy’s figuring out hers, now, and Peter and Lauren, even though they still seem to be an unlikely couple, appear to be making it work for them. Most importantly, this episode makes the biggest step yet for Mindy finally getting over Danny (which, thankfully, doesn’t involve Jody at all). In previous episodes, she tried to move forward with dating and random hookups, but as the insanely hot Diego points out, she needs to be with the people that she loves. Until she isn’t sad any more (but now also has a vague but hopefully to-be-realized mention of insanely hot future sex). In classic rom-com fashion, that will undoubtedly be the day when Danny realizes he’s being a lunkhead. But until then, this funny and moving break from New York, and all the typical Mindy Project setups, is just what this show needed.

Stray observations

  • Yes, I know Danny is supposed to be a jerk now, but leaving it to social media to fill Mindy in on his new relationship seems exceptionally cold.
  • “When is the loud lady coming?”
  • Mindy is almost immediately harsh with Rosa: “A book? Why don’t you go to h-”
  • I died in this scene: “I am pretty sure you can stand. Try standing.”
  • Meta commentary: “Mindy is so dumb. It’s like, can you believe she’s a doctor? Hahaha.”
  • Shout out to the insanity of McDreamy getting smashed by a truck. Also the relative over-the-top scenarios of all of Grey’s Anatomy.
  • I laughed really hard at this and feel like I shouldn’t have: “I went to Yale.” “This dude went to jail? Why am I apologizing to him?” “Yale, Mindy. He went to Yale.”
  • Also, Peter lighting up his pumpkin bong behind Mindy as she tries to plead the case for what a good guy he is.
  • Mindy’s best outfit: Not much to choose from this episode, but that dark floral dress she wore to dinner was very pretty and flattering. (And many thanks to everyone who dug up that colorblock shift for me last episode! Unfortunately, it was $375 and sold out, but neither of those facts are surprising.)
  • Mindy’s worst outfit: Not even the Garfield T-shirt and Dartmouth shorts were as bad as that bow-tied red blouse.