The Mindy Project 4.11-4.12: “The Lahiris and the Castellanos/The Parent Trap” Review

God’s Favorite Porno

A Television Review by Akash Singh

NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!

The meeting of the parents in a romantic situation is prime comedy material and it is difficult not see why. In one situation, one set of parents is disapproving of the relationship based on what are usually fairly nonsensical grounds. In another, both sets of parents are against the relationship because of a mutual enmity and their children take the whole adolescent rebellion thing to another stage (see: William Shakespeare’s subpar Romeo & Juliet). Mining dramatic, much less comedic, tensions from those two circumstances can become fairly easy. Mining drama and comedy from Mindy and Danny’s circumstances is much more difficult and this pair of episodes more than delivers on that promise. The usual trope the writers do effectively use here  to craft tension from two pairs of parents who are both supportive of a relationship is the culture clash between the two and the clash is is far greater than the simple Indian versus Italian or even the religious ones between Mindy’s Hindu upbringing and Danny’s Catholic one. Religion is definitely there from Annette’s perspective, from the crucifixion of Jesus on the wedding invitations and the Vatican-designed wedding gown that would be only be appropriate for the early scenes of a Sound of Music stage production. Annette likes to feel a little bit superior in such circumstances and Sonar knows what she wants to do and the common ground is largely missing from this equation entirely.

It’s a similar problem between Mindy and Danny, who both have a certain perspective where the common ground should be easy to find but it’s instead dissipating fairly quickly. Danny finds out that Mindy never told him about her business venture with Jody, which she should have, certainly. His response, however, doesn’t inspire any more confidence in Danny, further deteriorating his standing in this relationship. Mindy finally opens up to Danny about being a single working mother while he was away, admitting that working with a child was the toughest thing she had ever done. At the same time, however, she loved it and for Danny to ask her to give that up was wrong. She loved working, she’s loved working in her career since the first time she stepped into a delivery room. But while working, she always made sure that Leo was loved, that her son was never alone for so long that he would forget his mother’s presence. And if that wasn’t enough for him, then Danny should be the one who gave up his career and stayed at home. Danny expectedly balks at this, but Mindy refuses to be bullied. Annette pushes Mindy to go on her business trip while Tarun confesses to Danny that Sonar resented him for thirty years because she had to give up her theater career to raise Mindy. Mindy’s and Jody’s presentation goes superbly and for a moment it seems like the topper would be Danny coming around. But he simply sees her presentation as a weekend hobby since they’ll be having another kid.

The Parent Trap sees that question come to a head as Mindy is on the road with her practice and Danny has taken a different road towards a second child. How Danny got into his head that a second child is the solution to their problems is beyond me, considering how young Leo is, but having a relationship arrive at the idea of “being saved by a child” is never a good sign for that relationship’s longevity. A conversation with Morgan later, Mindy decides to go on birth control (Morgan’s other option was giving Danny a secret vasectomy he would fell the pain of for only three hours). She feels guilty about lying to Danny, especially after he plans this romantic evening where there is a carriage ride involved. That guilt disappears pretty quickly, however, when Mindy discovers that Danny has been scheduling her ovulation cycle by writing “OML” on his work calendar. The romantic opportunities were Danny’s ruses to get Mindy pregnant. Mindy shouldn’t have hidden about not being on birth control, but deliberately trying to get her pregnant is abhorrent. Morgan, the comedic character, becomes the active voice of reason. While he was away, Mindy built an actual business up from the ground with her own two hands and now Danny simply expects her to throw it away? For once, if Danny’s recognized that Mindy wants something else, why can’t he do the same?

The birth control pills undermine all wisdom Danny garnered from Morgan, however. His anger first comes through at their special screening of When Harry Met Sally, a hallmark of the romantic comedy genre. Danny loudly lambastes the movie for being a bucket of lies, but he’s the one whose behavior is deafening any semblance of harmony with his absolute stubbornness and more importantly, violating Mindy’s independence. The inevitable argument erupts back in their apartment and immediately everything comes roaring back to Danny wanting Mindy to stay at home and take care of Leo and having more children. The entire time he’s negating everything she wants, harping on that she is going back on their agreement. Once again Morgan’s words of advice that people change and things change goes right over his head. Relationships change with time and it takes commitment to go with those changes together. Forcing one will over the other simply doesn’t work. As I noted in the previous review, Danny is in a way trying to compensate for his father’s absence. But he is overcompensating to such a degree that it’s having the same effect, but worse is that he is parenting vicariously through Mindy. He gets to have his career and he can throw off any guilt about not being there onto Mindy. He’s knowingly blinding himself to that loss of independence she faces and whenever that guilt even slightly surfaces, he assuages his guilt by attacking her character. As their argument is escalating, Mindy’s patient goes into labor and she chooses her patient over Danny. The delivery is a success and it is absolutely wonderful to behold that sense of accomplishment and triumph she feels. When her fertility clinic’s first success’s photo is placed on their Wall O’Fame, we know that this is where Mindy truly belongs. When she returns home, however, Danny suggests that the wedding be held off. I don’t know if their relationship can be salvaged but if it can’t, that may very well be the best path for Mindy to take.

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (The Lahiris and the Castellanos):

+Rishi as the DJ

+Jody’s alma mater: Southern Legacy University. John Wilkes Booth of Political Creationism.

+New Jersey… New Haven… dead

+“Does your mother have a problem with beautiful people?”

+“Sari we’re late.”

+Tamra shutting Rishi down

+“They made the racism in Boston look a little quaint.”

+“Don’t lose sight of it.”

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (The Parent Trap):

+Muffin throw

+“Prince Harry tried to do that with me.”

+“I’m not a 14-year-old Christian! That’s not going to work on me.”

+Danny on How Harry Met Sally: “A fantasy that undermines the dignity of men.” That makes sense.

+“Oh, how I envy the Caribbean nannies that will raise them.”

+“I find your lack of support for Dr. Lahiri appalling.”

+“People change! Things change!”

+“If she’s important enough to you, maybe it’s time for you to want something else.

+#previewpopcorn

+“Did you know a woman wrote this movie?”

+“Every time you disagree with something I do, it’s a referendum on my character.”

+“I’m also a good doctor.”

+“I’m selfish?!”

+“A list of my flaws at the tip of your tongue.” Mindy Kaling’s discovery was pitch-perfect here and what an incredible moment for the character, acknowledging that she has flaws but she shouldn’t be held responsible for just them and not her strengths as well.

+The callback to the pilot with MIA’s “Bad Girls” was perfect.

Magnificent

10/10

Episode Title: The Lahiris and the Castellanos

Written by: Charlie Grandy

Directed by: Kate Dennis

Image Courtesy: EW

Magnificent

10/10

Episode Title: The Parent Trap

Written by: Matt Warburton

Directed by: David Rogers

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