We Are Family
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The surprise pregnancy family dinner can almost never go well, unless somehow the chillest family in the world is involved in it. This being the Castellanos, that whole chill scenario is certainly far from what is likely to happen. Unexpected pregnancies don’t often arrive with a positive tinge so to speak and certainly such a life altering event is something everyone would want to double and triple check past the point of sanity. Mindy has naturally done so about thirty times, Neepa pointing out that her only negative test was a popsicle stick that she drew a negative on and then peed over. Now all Mindy had to do was somehow tell Danny the truth but in the traditional sitcom fashion, Danny finds out before she can actually tell him anything. Mindy’s original idea in essence wasn’t that bad – a nice weekend trip is exactly the sort of place where you would want to break such news, but that plan basically goes to hell with Danny’s formerly estranged father and younger half-sister arriving. The frustration builds and builds until it reaches an extraordinary breaking point.
For Mindy, this entire episode was a roller coaster of emotions, hinging upon a fear that perhaps she wasn’t as welcome into Danny’s definition of family as she had thought previously. Within the mix of San Francisco and the new practice that had been offered to her, an understandable fear existed that the pregnancy would be too much of a wrinkle if it wasn’t revealed clearly. As with these things, careful planning goes right out the door. The problems begin with having Alan and Little Dani there in the first place. It certainly doesn’t help anything, even though there’s fantastically poignant comedy from Dot, who wonderfully channels all of the anger and frustration Annette rightfully feels after that abandonment. It only profoundly gets worse when Alan reveals to Danny that he wants him to take care of his daughter so she can garner a better life there. For anyone paying attention, it sounds far less like a father trying to get a better life for his daughter and it sounds far too much like another attempt by Danny’s father to pawn off his responsibility of a child onto someone else.
Even amidst the fairly serious implications of a rather fractured family dynamic, there’s plenty of moments of absolute hilarity in this episode. As per usual with his outings, writer Charlie Grandy is able to script moments that are bonded perfectly to create endearing moments of limitless poignancy. We can laugh at Mindy’s assertion that natural ingredients ruined snacks forever and that she became righted in her path when her mother smacked her with an encyclopedia. But this episode of The Mindy Project hits home when it came about confronting Mindy’s aforementioned fear about not belonging. From the first moment when Danny mentioned that the dinner was a family affair and she didn’t need to be there, that fear was compounded significantly. When she fulfills the ceremony of the blood of the eels and Annette comments on how she might as well be a Castellano, there’s a look of unbridled joy on Mindy’s part that may very well be one of the most sincere emotional reactions she’s ever had.
Alan’s request naturally comes back in a loud fashion, in part thanks to Mindy. Considering everything going on at that exact moment, it’s understandable that she isn’t super thrilled with Little Dani moving into the picture. She also doesn’t buy into hr teenager-being-emo act, which Mindy claims she invented. After a tense back and forth, the truth comes forward and results in an admittedly odd slapping match. A tense Mindy storms out of the house and in a neat twist, it’s Annette who figures out that Mindy is pregnant. She’s thrilled, a lot more thrilled than I imagined a traditional Catholic woman would be at her son getting his girlfriend pregnant out of wedlock, but hey. Annette rushes back into the house to inform a shocked Danny that Mindy is pregnant and he runs off into the night on that Hostess trail to find her lying in the doctor’s lounge where they had bonded way back in the pilot. “We’re a family,” he whispers softly and the episode comes to a close with Beyonce’s voice filling the frame just as Mindy would have liked. Amidst the sweetness, however, there is a bit of a warning tone of how Mindy wasn’t made family in Danny’s mind until he found about the pregnancy. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I feel as if the script went there deliberately multiple times just to ensure that the audience doesn’t walk away with a complete sense of euphoria. It’s more realistic that way, isn’t it? Certainly The Mindy Project has largely avoided the traps of the romantic comedy and I expect it to continue to do so.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Daddy-Danny, damn it.”
+Justice Scalia and the shame church
+“Old Scout Leader… little girl robot you built…”
+“Family is like HPV.”
+“This isn’t like Calcutta.”
+“I flew 40,000 miles!”
+“…before natural ingredients completely ruined snacks.”
+Annette’s makeover was great, but Rhea Perlman was on top form tonight
+The smile and the following “Ow!”
+ Mindy’s obsession with Hostesses’s Apple Pies creates a literal paper train for Danny to follow.
+“Okay, my turn. Rot in hell, you son of a bitch!”
+“I hope you have a lot of underwater minutes.”
+“I’m armed with nothing but my pepper spray and my gun.”
+“How much to go to San Francisco?”
+“I was borrowing this candlestick.”
+“…hearing the origin stories of gay men…”
+“Shoot first, ask questions never.”
+Mindy’s parakeet lasted three months, but you know what, it was a great three months
Title: Dinner at the Castellanos
Written By: Charlie Grandy
Directed By: David Rogers
Image Courtesy: Airun Garky