The Mindy Project 3.16: “Lahiri Family Values” Review

Credit Cards for Cupcakes

A Television Review by Akash Singh


Tonight’s episode of The Mindy Project saw Mindy and Danny both wrestling with secrets that had the capacity to overturn everything, secrets that were connected in turn by their shared secret of the pregnancy. Each was reluctant to spill the beans about the pregnancy; Danny was wrestling with his Catholic guilt and Mindy was worried about telling her presumably conservative Indian parents that she became pregnant by a white man before marriage. On Danny’s side, the episode utilizes its supporting cast quite well as they fall under the impression that Danny is actually going to die. For Mindy, she falls on the troubling information that her brother Rishi has completely screwed her credit over, creating an impediment to both her and Dr. Gurgler as they attempt to take out a loan to start their new fertility clinic enterprise. It’s a hilarious episode largely, complete with The Mindy Project trademark one-liners, but this episode collapses slightly when Mindy decides to open her own clinic in New York instead. I understand the narrative difficulties of balancing two entirely different coasts and not wanting to waste the great supporting cast this show has built up over the years, but that scene was simply botched in its execution.

The best bit of the episode was a seemingly throwaway scene, when Mindy proudly declares that she as a woman has it within her to accomplish her professional ambitions and stay true to her family. You know, like rich women. It’s a poignant moment of social commentary that Kaling delivers with pitch-perfect comedic timing. Mindy is flummoxed this episode, primary concerned with her brother Rishi ruining her credit by not paying his rent on time. As it happens, Rishi explains that being a rapper leads to some cash flow problems and so he became a drug dealer. Mindy is understandably aghast at this development, proceeding to offer him a job at her new fertility clinic as he happens to have a biology degree that he never got around to using. Dr. Gurgler isn’t ecstatic about hiring a former drug dealer who worked for a man called “Big Murder” – that was too much for him to get over. This is where the episode stumbles, when Mindy make up her mind to drop San Francisco and go to New York within the span of about two minutes. Sure, she realizes that her own clinic is full of misfits who are doing just fine despite the reality that most people wouldn’t hire them and would have probable reasons for doing so. But for her to transition that into going back to New York just fell into the old sitcom trap that the show so often avoids and avoids well. It’s a ridiculously neat wrap-up for the distance problems Mindy and Danny had been facing and I wish more thought had been given to wrapping up the quandary more realistically.

To the episode’s credit, however, it did present a part of that solution early on without drawing too much attention to itself. Cliff returns to remark upon his legal services getting a boost from all of the same-sex divorce cases that are pouring in. He vacated his old office to move towards greener pastures as one says (in this case the greener pastures are the larger offices upstairs). As such, his old offices are now empty and it’s the perfect segway for Mindy and the episode was sharp enough to pay just as much attention to it as necessary. As much as I am disappointed that the show is moving away from San Francisco, the scene where Neepa gives Mindy the confidence to go do her own thing through citing her own child was well-done. I just wish there was a bit more thought put into the episode as she arrived at her decision. Mindy has grown into such a smart character over the years that this feels partially like too much of a random jump for her that deserved a bit more time to go over.

Danny’s segments this episode were hilarious, buoyed by Morgan’s misunderstanding that Danny was dying. In his defense, Danny’s behavior (like drawing a new will) kept on giving credence to that theory. Consequently Morgan and Jeremy got some of their best scenes yet, their sadness at the loss of their friend coming off as legitimately touching. Their subsequent rage afterwards when Danny reveals that he’s actually not dying is hilarious, especially how disappointed the Staten Island Catholic Boys’s Choir were at that development. Just as quickly as their irritation at his abandonment of the practice for San Francisco came about, when Danny reveals irritably that Mindy is in fact pregnant, smiles immediately erupt everywhere. Here is where the abruptness truly works not only in terms of comedic timing but also with how much we truly have come to know these characters. As such, their reactions felt germane in a way that Mindy’s quick decision did not.

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:

+“At the minimum, for the ratings for a reality show…”

+State Capitals

+“Danny, this is not Boko Haram!”

+“Do you want my watch?”

+“Do you accept street cred?”

+“Which one’s Dr. C?”

+Rishi’s door covered in eviction notices

+“It’s months too early.”

+Danny’s favorite junk food is raisins

+“You’re great coworkers and amazing friends.”

+“…you’re going to be reincarnated, and then they’re going to kill you again!”

+Mindy finds cocaine to be better than marijuana – it can lead to jobs on Wall Street

+“Well, I’m not going to be here.”

+“It’s a testament to the selfless way you’ve lived – live your life.”

+“He won’t let me quit.”

+“Do not tell your father about this.”

+“What are you like, a math teacher?”

+John Cho as Big Murder, who got his name from killing it in business school

+“Minimum wage here is like a $5 million an hour.”

+“I’m going to kill you, kill Greg, and then burn this building down.”

+“I’m not as stupid as my hotness implied.”

+“Morgan and I wrote a song.”

+“You’re too young and beautiful to die.”

+“Family, second chances and juicy, delicious hamburgers.”

+Can Neepa remain on the show?

+Rishi: “In terms of entitlement and personality, you’re the whitest man I know.”

Mindy: “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

-Why can’t Mindy finish the fellowship? Did I miss something?



Title: Lahiri Family Values

Written By: Tracey Wigfield

Directed By: Marco Fargnoli

Image Courtesy: Hulu


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