Truths & Laughs
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The middle phase of The Mindy Project’s season 4a is an odd one, with a precarious dip in episode six that is alarming, as if suddenly the series had snapped right out of focus for a half hour that delivered solid lines at the expense of character logic. The following half-hour, however, recovered nicely. If this awkward trio has a glaring writing stain, it at least espouses a strong unity of plot that has surprisingly turned into one of the most satisfying thoroughfares of the series yet. Pregnancies in television shows have rarely turned out to be as explored and understood as they have here as they have too often become a clutch for dramatic tension without the actual dramatic weight to support it. In romantic comedies, pregnancies are either ignored or treated as the capper to a happily never after. In some rare cases, they’re given more weight but the treatment is thin at best. Mindy and Danny’s pregnancy was a marker but it remained to be seen where the marker was actually going to lead. As of right now, it is as solid, understanding, and unglamorous as I expected it to be and more nuanced than I expected. Mindy as a mother is a fascinating turn for the character and it is an absolute joy to watch her grapple with the joys and pitfalls of motherhood and even more so to watch how her golden relationship with Danny thusly alters.
Mindy’s grappling with being a stay at home mom partially began as almost any time away from school and work does. There’s a plethora of junk food, binge watching television and ensuring that one does so in the most relaxing pajamas possible. The unfortunate reality of those circumstances are is that they last an incredibly short period of time. Mindy is one of those people that is extremely attached to work and that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all. She has worked tirelessly to garner the professional position she is in and to let that go for a period of time, no matter how small or great, is exceedingly difficult for her. And somewhere along the road, that drive became a part of her and it is unflinchingly linked with not just her job at the practice but also the new fertility clinic she has been working on. And yet women being so driven and professional-minded is frowned upon in an incredibly patriarchal society that is entrenched no matter what avenue one turns towards. Mindy is told that her time off of work is like a vacation, which rightfully causes her to go ballistically indignant. The note of people wondering why a guy is home at two p.m. was a highlight, considering a woman would on a general level never be asked that question. It would just be assumed that it was natural. Mindy’s realization that yes, she had to go back to work, was the perfect capper. Unfortunately, Danny’s phone threw a wrench into that conversation.
Danny’s father having a heart attack is an understandable stopper to Mindy not confronting Danny right then and there, but to see Mindy stick to her guns and head to work was extremely satisfying. Annette of course enters the picture to take care of Leo during the stead, but Annette understandably drives Mindy more than a little insane. Clothes on the line through the middle of the apartment, tasting her breast milk to make sure it was okay for Leo, and bursting in on her when Mindy is taking a shower are just a few steps off of her checklist. Mindy, while grateful, decides to hire a nanny of her own, which seems to go swimmingly well at first (she’s also a baker, which is a huge plus). Mindy, sorely missing from the road trip episode, is really the heart and soul of the show and watching her clash with Annette is a highlight. Mindy Kaling and Rhea Pearlman have such fantastic chemistry, it’s really quite difficult not to find stupendous joy whenever they’re on screen together, especially with a solid script behind them. Annette, not one to be beaten, sues Mindy for slave labor and on the other hand Mindy discovers that her new lovely nanny is an anti-vaxxer. Mindy is horrified to find a picture of Leo on an anti-vaxxer website, reaching out to Annette just as she does the same. A solid episode ends on a note of family’s importance while continuing to highlight the myriad of problems working mothers continue to face.
Danny and Morgan’s road trip represents the nadir of The Mindy Project. It’s an average episode if taken by itself but considering the quality of the episodes that are around it, it’s difficult not to scrutinize it further. There are solid lines as always, but that is something that should always be expected from a show whose episodes usually require multiple viewings to understand the plethora of jokes. It’s just that this entire episode didn’t make any sense plot-wise, or character-wise. The few right notes it hits are Morgan’s consistent commentary and Danny’s espousal of the silent treatment to make him uncomfortable. Other than that, the script is utter nonsense. Danny suddenly develops this completely irrational fear of flying (not a general comment on fears of flying, by the way), which is never brought up before in the show (correct me otherwise in the comments). In crafting that sudden plot device, the series suddenly contradicts Mindy and Danny’s kiss moment on the plane in a small way, but one that is jarring nevertheless. Then Danny has this secret trip to Oklahoma that comes out of nowhere because some kid told him that he was the father he’d been missing all along. On one hand, Danny confronting his daddy issues is important for the character but one has to wonder if the final moments were worth the completely ludicrous road it took to get there in the first place.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Stay at Home MILF):
+“I thought cleaning would be your job now.”
“I was born in this country and I’m too lazy.”
+“I live in the alley.”
+“I’ve never gotten on my knees and not gotten jewelry out of it.”
+“There’s no better reward than your hubby’s appreciation.” Excuse me while I vomit.
+“I haven’t been outside since I threw our trash in the river.”
+“What’s a guy doing home at 2 p.m.?”
+The symbolic importance of pie
+“What even was the point of Glee?”
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Road Trip):
+“Your birthday is around the VMAs.”
+“When I was six, I swallowed a compass.”
+“You think she could just lose the baby fat like that?”
+“Goddamn one percenter.”
+Eddie from Frasier in Catoosa, OK
+“Everyone owns a gun out here, so there’s no crime, just accidents and suicides.”
+“Why did you have to be so perceptive?”
+“It’s been a while since I sat with some teens and talked about Christ.”
+“Resentment is when you take the poison and you hope the other guy gets sick.”
-The motel sequence was ridiculous
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Mindy and Nanny):
+“Can you say ‘All aboard the Hogwarts Express?’”
+“Good luck with your transition.”
+“Your sheets reek of sin.”
+“One pan of pasta for two people?”
+“What are you, the dad in a Nicholas Sparks movie?”
+“Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, okay? Sometimes cool people make mistakes.”
+“Using Leo as a human shield.”
Episode Title: Stay at Home MILF
Written by: Chris Schleicher
Directed by: Rachel Goldenberg
Image Courtesy: Vulture
Episode Title: Road Trip
Written by: David Stassen
Directed by: David Stassen
Episode Title: Mindy and Nanny
Written by: Lang Fisher
Directed by: Roger Kumble