The Mindy Project
Season 2, Episode 15: “French Me, You Idiot”
Season 2, Episode 16: “Indian BBW”
Posted by Sage
On Tuesday night around 9:02 pm EST, my Twitter timeline exploded into one long stream of squee. Now, considering the general flailiness of my online friends (kisses – love you guys), this isn’t exactly an unusual occurrence. But the all-encompassing joy is worth mentioning, for two reasons. Firstly, because it was the complete opposite of the utter despair kicked up by the previous night’s How I Met Your Mother finale, and secondly, because one year ago, a new episode of The Mindy Project hardly registered with us.
To quote Michael Scott, “How the turntables…”
Not to dredge up old grievances, but Mindy Kaling’s willingness to let her vision for her show evolve along the way and fearlessness in implementing necessary changes show exactly the kind of open-eyed perspective that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas needed. Is Anna Camp fabulous? A million times, yes. But the heart of The Mindy Project‘s comedy lives in the office of Shulman & Associates; Mindy herself plays better off of those actors; and so, in this instance, cutting a great-on-paper character played by a terrific comic actress was the right thing to do.
Between its pilot and now, Mindy has implemented several other changes that have allowed it to develop into a show that’s full-grown and ready to be loved. But enough about structure and themes. Let’s talk about Danny Castellano’s lips and general facial region.
“You can’t write chemistry,” Kaling said at the show’s Paleyfest panel this year. And you can’t write an Old Hollywood-style man-man with a flair for comedy like Chris Messina. This week’s double bill of episodes picked up where we left off a grueling two and a half months ago – with Danny making his move in the back of an airplane. You know, that part where the flight attendants hang out. With all the little drawers? Anyway, I still smile whenever I see tonic water at the grocery store.
Mindy has also talked about her refusal to bog down a will-they, won’t-they in contrived barriers. So what we didn’t get on Tuesday was a backpedal and a swift return to the status quo. Though they did tease us with it. “Look, I’m gonna count to three. If you don’t kiss me, I’m gonna realize this was a big mistake and return to my seat in humiliation. One…two…three…four.” And there’s the difference between Danny/Mindy and Danny/Christina or Danny/Girls in His Phone: that “four.” For her, he’ll stand and wait and risk his own mortification. If she hadn’t responded when she did, he would have just kept right on counting until she did.
Aside from a failed Mile High Club attempt, his courage pays off. Mindy and Danny return back to New York hand-in-hand. But Cliff, wooed back by
Danny’s Mindy’s letter (“I wrote the crap outta that thing. Real romantic-like.”), shows up with the least welcome grand gesture in Mindy’s Julia Roberts Appreciation Life. At least I now have a mental image of a wounded Chris Messina surrounded by a mariachi band to return to whenever I find it necessary. (So far, frequently.)
Mindy is a serial dater and Danny, though he’d like us to believe otherwise, is not. And so the obstacles that crop up in the beginning of their relationship are all about establishing a balance there. We’re already two for two on Mindy’s exes haunting the newlyweds in these eps, though she is clearly decided on what she wants. Cliff might as well be in the casket with his racist Gram, because he ostensibly died the moment Danny went for the butt. (Remember when Tracey Wigfield said that move was “pure Messina”? Mindy Kaling has the best job in the world.) And Tom is just a curiosity from her dating past. They’re nothing in comparison to what this could be, and she’s very conscious of it. “I kissed Danny,” she tells Cliff. “And I don’t think it’s a one-time thing.”
The complications are coming from outside the house, basically. Now that she’s had a taste, Mindy is “horny for kisses” – hence the episode title – though Danny’s conscience is cockblocking. (“Let’s chalk it up to turbulence and altitude and the blue corn chips.”) He says it’s because “his guy” wouldn’t be pleased with some technical adultery (“I’m so Catholic, I don’t even trust this new pope!”), but all his righteous posturing is misdirection from his nagging insecurities. Is he a blip too? A funny story to tell over cocktails? He won’t know for sure until the lawyer’s out of the picture. And so begins “How to Lose a Cliff in 2 Hours: The Mindy Lahiri Story.”
Cliff is a nice enough guy, but we don’t feel bad for him. Mainly because anything standing in the way of Dandy must be destroyed (I came in like a wreeeecking baalllll…) but also because he loves a version of Mindy that doesn’t exist. They’re back together on the strength of the letter Danny wrote with her (and to her), which is so unlike her usual rambling emails with “pop culture references nobody understands.” Which is like, whatever, Cliff. If you know Mindy at all, you’d appreciate her stream of consciousness emails as proof that she likes and trusts you. This season began with Danny and Mindy corresponding while she was in Haiti with Ders-Casey, and I didn’t hear Danny complain about any spelling errors. He always wants to hear what she has to say. He learned who Michael Fassbender was for her, for Magneto’s sake.
Mindy is constantly trying to tamp down the aspects of her personality that the guys she dates find annoying. Danny gets it all, no filter. She challenges him with them, dares him to judge her. I remember reading a recap of the Friends episode “TOW the List” years ago, and the recapper hit Ross’s fatal error directly on the head. After Rachel finds the pros and cons list, he defends himself by telling her, “I want to be with you in spite of those things.” Swap out “in spite of” for “because,” and maybe they would have been together long before the prom video. Danny and Mindy are going to be different, because she won’t have to waste time and energy better spent with scrumptious lips and pizza bagels on meticulously covering up what she’s been told are her flaws. Danny knows her better than any of those guys ever did (they’ve been on “hundreds of dates” already, he tells her – and it’s true) and doesn’t want her to change a thing. (“You’re a woman, so look like a woman.”) And even though he’s frustrated with the Cliff situation, he can’t help but admire her for not having the heart to dump a broken man. (“Yeah, she’s a good kid.”)
My Danny Castellano feelings hit Threat Level: Midnight when he rolled into Mindy’s hospital room looking for her copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary. (The nurse put it across the room “as punishment for pinching her.”) He’s sorry for freaking out about the sex tape and makes it up to her in what has to be a universally fool-proof boyfriend apology. He squeezes in bed next to Mindy, snaps on his red grandpa glasses (a triumph of the wardrobe department), and starts reading to her about Aunt Una and Uncle Geoffrey’s annual turkey curry buffet – in a terrible British accent.
“Oh, that’s where she meets Darcy.”
“Oh yeah, who’s she?”
“No, Mark Darcy. Colin Firth.”
“Oh, okay, yep. I like that guy.”
Oh, Danny. You like that guy because you are that guy.
Danny’s not only going to read her this entire book, he’s going to enjoy it too. And how can he begrudge her some soothing chick lit? He’s got Mr. Neck.
Against all odds, it’s Verified User BrOBYN who we have to thank for this happy ending. I wrote earlier this season that, though he’s always hilarious, Adam Pally was still playing straight Max here. I like to think that Max lives on in the way Peter situates himself in chairs. Anyway, in “Indian BBW,” Peter gets some much-needed character development. His dudebro-ness won’t allow him to resist watching Mindy and Tom’s girl scout roleplay on Sploderzz.com (and rating it 3 stars), but he’s sweetly concerned for Mindy once he sees how distressed she is about it. That’s some depth for a guy with a friend named “Queef.” Now that Danny and Mindy are kissy-kissy, I’d like it very much if Peter could step up to the role of best guy friend. He was downright heroic in exploiting his D-Bag status to get the video taken down and shaming Tom into giving up the hard copy. And, once he fully processed the information that Danny and Mindy are, if not “porking,” nearly there, it’s Peter who gives Danny the perspective he needs on Mindy’s decision to take it slow with him despite the faster pace of her past relationships. “I think it’s because Mindy really respects the practice,” Peter the shipper says. “Maybe she’s even a little in love with the practice.” Before you ask, yes, someone gif-setted this scene next to Ben talking about the town’s “pretty blond hair.”
What is it about Fox Tuesday sitcoms and their second seasons? Mindy is sharper and quicker than it’s ever been. The writers are settling in; the jokes are rooted in character; those characters are becoming more solid every episode; and the B-Stories – like Peter and Jeremy going after the Metropolitan Ballet’s business – are getting stronger. I wasn’t planning on recapping another show, but I also wasn’t planning on falling this hard. Are any of us ever?
- A certain co-blogstress who will remain nameless told me that this episode put her really in the mood to make out with someone and just make out, and I have to agree. Mindy’s sex tape with Tom was so un-sexy, it made her and Danny’s fully-clothed and chaste fooling around even hotter. Delayed gratification: 10 out of 10 Tom Hiddlestons recommend it.
- “Who is this? This is Dan.”
- “She never forgot my birthday. Until this year. And I REALLY let her have it.”
- “Peter, Jeremy.” “Brendan, Weird Beard.”
- “You thought a pirouette was a cookie.” “IT IS. And if you break it in half, it’s also a breakfast cereal.”
- Jeremy has been all over the place as a character, but Ed Weeks is funny and charming and I have faith he’ll be fully grounded soon.
- “No person should ever have to bury a grandparent.”
- Danny tells Tamara and Morgan to go “do something useful,” and if promo stills can be trusted, they will: each other.
- When Peter knock-mastes on Brendan’s door, the midwife is reading a book called Advanced Yoga Orgies.
- “Eyes? Deep sky blue. Favorite beer? Dr. Dan’s Funky Ale.” This is great for a lot of reasons, but mostly that “funky” is the coolest word that Danny can think of.
- Morgan used to be the only obstacle between me and 100% enjoyment of this show. His weirdness, now well-defined, has completely turned me around on him. He wore black scrubs to the funeral. He vowed, “Poor, sweet Cliff. We gonna find who did this to her.” He brought balloons to Danny’s hospital room, not as a gift, but “for his “own, personal use.” Yay for Morgan, basically.
- Mindy’s eulogy for Cliff’s grandma was a thing of beauty, “irregardless,” “sadliness,” and all.
- “What about Bloody Mary?” “The Virgin Mary.”
- “You a root beer man?”
- “MOVE FASTER. GO TO HIM. JUST WALK TO HIM. THERE. WE ALL DID IT TOGETHER.”
- “Pay attention: Connie. Her body would NOT stop. Oh, Connie’s dead.”
- “He was all sweaty and cranky so I was like, business as usual.”
- Richie calls Mindy “Dr. L,” and I hope that never changes.
- “Sex with me right now would kill you in this state.” “Just graze it.” “This is your brain fever making you a real pervert.”
- THAT SNAKESKIN DRESS.
- I love that Mindy’s just got Bill Hader in her back pocket, ready to come back anytime. And from now on, Tom should bring his creepy dental assistant girlfriend with him.
- “Aw, yeah, that’s great, Richie, real great. Have fun not building up a credit history.”
- “Brainy, bird-like wife material?” “Big, beautiful woman.” “Beautiful woman…is in there.” You Tried Star for Peter.
- These people end up in the hospital a lot. For doctors, they’re really shit at taking care of themselves.
- “We’re all gynecologists in this room.”
- “Three hundo thundo?”
- “I feel like I can get airlifted once in a while.”
- “Hey, that tape had a lot going against it. Bad lighting. Female director.”
- “What are you doing?” “Trying to pull the plug.”
Are you as jazzed as we are to have Mindy and brewmaster Dr. Dan back in our lives? Let us know in the comments!