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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Mindy Project: “Wedding Crushers”

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It was announced this week that The Mindy Project is going on hiatus as of January 28, to return in April. Due to its recent low ratings, we can assume that the show will be retooling again (revamps over its mere season-and-a-half have involved getting rid of Amanda Setton as office staff member Shauna and Anna Camp as Mindy’s BFF, and recently adding Adam Pally, a huge plus in my book). It’s too bad, because right now the main cast seems to be gelling quite nicely, chemistrywise, which is no small feat (although Betsy and Beverly seem permanently in the backseat, and Jeremy could hang out there most of the time). In fact, if there’s a sore spot, it’s that the show is centered in a medical practice, and most of the fun of The Mindy Project usually takes place away from the office. Like this week’s episode, for example.

The Mindy Project shines when it bolts out of traditional sitcom fodder. In most sitcoms, Danny’s brother Richie’s big announcement would be that he’s gay, crushing his traditional, Catholic big brother. In this case, Danny already knows that his boy-band-cute sibling (Max Minghella) is into non-girls, and the big announcement, which Richie reveals at the party Danny throws for him, is that he’s been in touch with their deadbeat dad. (Gotta love Danny’s devotion to Richie: his posture, his manners, his limbo abilities, even teaching him how to shave his legs for Cabaret.) How do we know the dad is deadbeat? Danny cautions, “Don’t let him near your marrow.” Or Richie’s childhood turtle “Shelley Long” was actually seven turtles. Clearly, the man is not to be trusted. And then the pizza oven insults start flying. At long last, Jeremy gets a nice moment when he pulls Richie back to the party. Finally, a B story we can get behind.

We could also expect that Mindy’s appearance in a dress that makes her look “more proportional” than she actually is would lead to a hookup with her ex Josh at his wedding. Instead her “date” Peter, who has been cleaned up into Mr. Wedding in a three-piece suit, is caught with Josh’s sex-addict bride in the bathroom, after a spirited turn to “All Night Long” on the dance floor. Sure, Mindy being Mindy, the resolution will probably involve her giving a speech in an attempt to save/ruin the wedding, which all seems a bit farfetched, but the irate, cake-throwing wedding crowd was pretty funny and again, surprising. I know “You’ve Got Sext” revved up everybody in the Mindy-Danny camp, but am I wrong for loving the Mindy-Peter moments in this episode, especially on the dance floor?

Throughout, The Mindy Project adds its usual rapid-fire dialogue and some genuinely sweet moments, like the affection between the Castellano brothers, or Peter letting down his frat-boy persona in the car. In fact, a lot of the episode involves people moving past their social facades: Josh wanting to have the perfect wedding when the reality is anything but; Mindy posing with Peter as her boyfriend, then revealing that he isn’t; Peter admitting that he hasn’t had sex in a year and a half; Danny eventually having to face his past with his dad (who I predict will show up sooner rather than later). There seem to be a lot of heart-to-hearts, with some random props and dialogue (snorting powdered sugar and lighting a flame under a spoon for comfort, and a turtle named Shelley Long). Still The Mindy Project points out that it’s best to just face facts and when all else fails, limbo.

Fortunately, we’ll get some more episodes before the show takes off on hiatus, which is giving the staff time to “regroup.” If I were them, not sure what I’d work on. The jokes are fast and furious, maybe some cast members are a bit superfluous, but recent episodes this season have been pretty solid. Part of the speculation of The Mindy Project’s current troubles involve the budget the show’s incurred for its frequent big-name guest stars: this week’s episode proves it doesn’t need them. Don’t know what the spring will bring (except an hour-long premiere for the show’s return in April), but am still rooting for The Mindy Project’s chances.

Stray observations:

  • The episode kicks off with a spot-on Sex And The City voiceover about having to go to your ex’s wedding in New York City.
  • “I’m Mindy Lahiri. Doctor. Woman.”
  • Fantastic casting of The Social Network’s Max Minghella as Richie Castellano.
  • Did not need to see Mindy shaving her arms. Or Peter buckling his pants in front of the crowd.
  • Danny’s so Catholic he says a prayer before chewing gum.
  • I am always in favor of a Columbo reference. Also, Hall And Oates on a soundtrack.
  • Everyone is helpless when faced with the lasso dance move.
  • “I feel you! Table Nine holds you down, Shawne!”
  • “I am way too young to understand your Graduate reference.”
  • The Miami Vice soundtrack seems like perfect limbo music.