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

The Mindy Project: “San Francisco Bae”

Illustration for article titled The Mindy Project: “San Francisco Bae”

Sure, moving Mindy to Stanford might have seemed risky at first, but this plot twist is actually jolting some unexpected life into the 2015 version of The Mindy Project. As Mindy stops focusing so much on her long-distance relationship with Danny, we get to see her on her own on the west coast, while all the boys back in the office have an inspired evening in her absence.

This kind of episode is my favorite kind of Mindy Project, with fizzy punchlines and chemistry, unbridled laughs, and some forward propulsion in plot progression (written by newcomer Chris Schleicher in one of his first efforts for the show).

Let’s start with the menfolk: Yes, I know some people find Morgan annoying, but you can’t say that his pining for Danny hasn’t been consistent. In fact, there’s lots of solid continuity from previous episodes in the boys’ night hangout: Jeremy’s pretension and his inability to bond with baby Henry, Peter’s relative ease in doing so and his feelings for Lauren, Danny’s need to stay out of everyone’s business (he doesn’t even like to see the kitchens in open restaurants), and Morgan’s need to mess everything up. Toss them together and you’ve got an awesome Danny and Morgan slap fight (“I need my hands for crafts!” cautions Morgan), Jeremy in a Count Chocula cape, and a swoon-worthy kiss from Adam Pally on one of his final episodes. So well-done, all around.

For Mindy’s part, her boss Dr. Gurglar is manic and hilarious (“You’ve been Gurgled!”) as is her tendency to misidentify metropolitan slogans (calling San Francisco the Windy City and Sin City, and the 100-mile-away New York, the City of Brotherly Lights). Her dependence on her long-distance boyfriend is almost pathological at the beginning of the episode: she even hires Morgan to film Danny for her. But once she breaks out on her own, she kind of helps Gurglar (kind of) and best of all, reconfirms her own awesomeness with the way she transformed Xander Eakin into Alex back in college. There is stunt-casting, and there is stunt-casting, and then there is Lee Pace, who is an excellent example of why you stunt-cast in the first place. He is fantastic, from his lucited ponytail to his too-short wax museum likeness to what might be the sexiest voice in all of creation. Seriously. If there had to be a wrench thrown into the Mindy and Danny cog, fortunately, it’s him.

The theme of “cheating” hangs all over this episode, from Morgan’s suspicions about Peter to Gurglar’s vindictive forwarding of Alex’s text to Danny (only after his previous email attempts to include himself in the conversation have been ignored!). Jeremy isn’t surprised at all by the suspicion that Lauren would be cheating on him. Morgan is flattered by the thought that Danny would be upset about him and Mindy getting together (Morgan also has a long history of pointing to a nonexistent—except in his mind—relationship between himself and Dr. L). Peter doesn’t realize until his friends point it out that he actually is engaged in some sort of a relationship with Lauren, and it’s not enough for him. Gurglar’s wife’s cheating has ended their relationship, but only because she insists. Mindy is terrified that Danny will get hit on by cougars and pregnant women, and that she will be approached if she goes out to bars alone. Then she is approached, but Danny trusts her so much that he’s not worried (but knows her well enough to know that she will still eat junk food, even as his extracts chocolate chips from his own muffin).

Mindy might have enjoyed flirting with Alex, and toying with the notion that her awakening of him sexually helped create the Internet, but in the end, she just misses her boyfriend. It could happen to any of us: Even if you’re in a committed relationship, if a handsome billionaire from your past showed up to admit he’s still pining for you, who knows what we would do? So far, Mindy is sticking to her “local ethnic man”; although the dalliance is fun, she’s going to go back to her long-distance phone call in the end. Our hearts all return to what we really want eventually: Morgan to Danny (on his birthday, no less), Peter to Lauren, Lauren to someone who also loves her kid, and Mindy and Danny, because they’re in it for the long haul.


Eight months is a long time, however, and Mindy does have a billionaire’s sensitivity. But while many sitcom relationship troubles often just make the audience feel yanked around, here the various prospects are all so engaging, I can’t wait to see what happens next. No matter where it ends up, so far it’s still a heck of a fun ride on The Mindy Project.

Stray observations:

  • According to Mindy Kaling’s live tweets during this episode, Chris Messina was cracking up during the entire Jeremy opera-cape scene. On rewatch, this just makes it funnier.
  • Alex Eakin’s billion-dollar website: Video Dumpster. He was Wired’s man of the year last year, but this year it went to “Girls Who Code.”
  • “Missionary? I’d rather die!”
  • Did Morgan find his kite?
  • “Would you go to Las Vegas and not visit historic Lake Mead?”
  • “I’ll just do what I normally do on Friday nights. I’ll just sit on the stoop and pretend I’m hanging out with you.”
  • Mindy’s Best Outfit: I need to hunt down that super-cute outfit with the diamond-print sweater that she wore to the bar. UPDATE: Annnnnd that Moschino sweater is already sold out, unsurprisingly.
  • What’s Beverly up to this week?: She’s nonexistent onscreen, but Danny reports that her voice might have come out of an Elmo in Times Square.
  • To impress your favorite bartender, just walk in and order the “oldest Japanese whiskey. One cube.”
  • True love of Mindy’s life = spare ribs
  • Billionaires have a secret Hunger Games! I knew it!
  • Math that doesn’t add up: “I was like 10 then!” “I’m 10 now!” And that was supermodel Christine Teigen calling Mindy a nerd.
  • Could have done without the double-entendres involved in giving Henry his dinner.
  • Kaling also tweeted that the best thing about Mindy’s joke about losing her virginity in a trampoline accident was everyone who heard it imagining how that would happen. Y’know, that’s probably true.