A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
There’s always a love story. In every story, there’s a romance of some sort, of some kind, in some fashion. Love is an inherent part of the human experience, no matter what form it arrives in and with whom it is established. There’s a parental love from parents towards their offspring, much like Mindy and Danny’s love for Leo. There’s a familial love like the kind Mindy’s and Danny’s folks feel towards them. There’s the love in friendship, the kind Peter and Morgan share with Mindy, for example. Then there’s the most famed kind of love, the romantic. Romantic love in storytelling spans a multitude of kinds, but the romantic comedy genre is arguably the most well-known portrayal of romantic love on television. There’s always two people who are perfect for each other and they have to overcome certain obstacles in order to be together. Oftentimes those obstacles boil down to two people simply not being aware that the right person for them to be with happens to be right there and they had simply overlooked them. When The Mindy Project began to go down the road that was surely going to end in Mindy and Danny becoming a couple, it seemed that that was the road they had so ardently espoused. There’s nothing wrong with adopting to a genre if one adopts to the genre really well and that was absolutely the case in that narrative stretch. Even as it was within that adaptation process, however, Mindy tweaked the conventions of the romantic comedy as the show began to really throw those conventions under the bus.
The Mindy Project was always essential comedy viewing and it was always outside the box. But when it began to take the conventional trappings of the romantic comedy couple and shredding them, the show became one of the most important series to hit the air. I realize that’s a massive sentiment to express, but it is one I truly feel. Female perspectives are often marginalized in just about everything and it especially is more true when it comes to matters relating to romantic love and sexual attraction. Mindy has her flaws and she accepts them, but she has a plethora of strengths and one of those strengths is how she goes for what she wants and isn’t afraid to tackle the obstacles that arrive in her path. That strength is what Peter was pointing towards at the end of his previous appearance, the strength of being independent because she was afraid of how it would impact her relationship with a man she clearly loves. Her relationship with Danny has had its fair share of ups and downs, like any aspect of anyone’s existence, but this moment when that very strength of hers and the independence it represents is under attack is the moment where that relationship is at its most vulnerable. At every opportunity, Danny’s desire to have another child finds its way into the most innocuous of conversations, including when they’re decorating the Christmas tree. While in the decoration process, Mindy finds an ornament with her and Danny smiling with the words “First Day of Work” written above. She’s perplexed and the show takes us for a trip down memory lane.
It’s a Christmas memory lane that is a fairly depressing one for the series but vital nonetheless. Danny, unsurprisingly, is a compete ass to Mindy from the moment she enters the building, not holding the elevator door open for her because that would, in his words, reward lateness. To reach a further heigh of cruelty, he calls her a joke once the office day continues and while the hurt registers clearly on Mindy’s face, her visage remains determined. Sure, she may have been hired by accident and her office is a storage room, but she is a hell of a doctor and no one would be able to tell her otherwise. At every turn possible, Danny demeans her but she resolutely carries herself throughout the day, just wanting to make the best of her first day at work. Her breakthrough moment arrives when Danny has to attend couple’s therapy with Cynthia and he asks Jeremy to cover his patient’s C-section. Mindy takes the opportunity instead, using some brilliant bits of comedy to calm her anxious patient down. Her patient didn’t want a C-section, which is what Danny advised since the umbilical cord was around the baby’s neck. But Mindy uses the somersault birthing technique instead, naturally delivering the healthy baby without causing the mother any additional stress or procedures. Danny is still an abhorrent ass to her anyhow and Mindy decides to quit. She’s good and she knows it and she sure as hell isn’t going to take being kicked around by someone else on their terms, no less. When Danny visits the new mother, however, she and her husband sing nothing but praises for Mindy and a realization dawns upon him.
A significant part of Danny’s attitude deteriorating so quickly after Mindy delivered his patient through natural birth and not a C-section undoubtedly comes from his insecurity that she might just be a better doctor than him. His patient’s response makes him recognize that flaw and he requests that Mindy stay by noting: “You’re great at this and don’t ever let anyone try to stop you from doing what you want. Not even me.” He tells her that if he measured her armoire and it fit into the office, then she should stay. Mindy acquiesces and the armoire fits perfectly. She raises a camera and the two share what she calls a “selfer”. Switch forward to the present day and Mindy is reflecting upon that selfer and the impasse the two are at now. Late at night, when she finds herself unable to sleep and conquer her thoughts, she realizes what she has to do. She measures Leo’s crib and then goes into her old apartment. She measures a part of her old room and the crib fits perfectly, just within a single inch. Mindy sinks onto the ground and begins crying, breaking hers and all of our hearts in a single go. She takes down the for sale sign in her apartment window and as Sam Smiths “Stay With Me” plays mournfully over the atmosphere, she goes back to Danny’s apartment. She curls up next to him in bed, but she can’t sleep. The final lyrics the episode closes out on are “This ain’t love, it’s clear to see, but darling, stay with me.” But is it worth staying without the love? It’s a question to which Mindy has seemingly found the answer to, but it isn’t an easy one.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I mean, this is the best crotch I’ve ever tasted.”
+“Jesus was born in a barn and he grew up to become the most popular tattoo for Latino men.”
+“There are no signs in the universe. Just the will of our living Christ.”
+“The resemblance is striking.”
+It’s been three years since you could fire a woman of color for no reason.
+“Right now the only DTF I am is down to find patients.”
+Principal’s office in a porno
+“Backstories are stupid. We don’t always need to know how everybody met each other.”
+I admire Mindy so much
*Thank you so much for taking the Mindy journey with me, readers, and I sincerely apologize for the random dropping off of timely reviews that caused some bunches. The schedule will be much smoother the next half of season four and hopefully beyond.
Episode Title: When Mindy Met Danny
Written by: Mindy Kaling & Matt Warburton
Directed by: Michael Spiller
Image Courtesy: EW