The Mindy Project
Season 2, Episode 21: Girl Next Door
Posted by Sage
Ladies, ladies, ladies.
If you can’t support Danny Castellano at his most emotionally stunted, then you don’t deserve him the height of his dreamboat-ness. I’m sensing some serious fandom anger towards the man right now, and I feel you. But isn’t his behavior towards Mindy in this awkward gap between love and friendship exactly in line with what we know of his romantic history so far?
We want the dream. And he is the dream, in so many ways. The Mindy Project has its name not only to make that instant connection to Kaling, but also to communicate that Mindy’s life is a work-in-progress. So is Danny’s. That’s why they will – at some point – work. And if we allow her her flaws because she’s a real (fake) human person, shouldn’t Danny get the same consideration? Dr. Castellano isn’t the Ken doll we get to bust out every time we need an Aaliyah routine or a Bridget Jones reading or an affirming comment about our bodies. He gets to be insecure and jealous and wounded too. (Go back and look at the expression on his face after he tells Mindy he attended a Suze Orman post-divorce workshop if you don’t believe me.) So, sorry if your Prince Charming came up short this time. Spoiler alert: they usually do.
Sidebar: the Danny Castellano we know and love did make an appearance in this episode. He’s always assumed his brother would end up marry a Kennedy. He brews Doctor Dan’s Summertime Snickerdoodle Ale and it sounds way, way gross. He’s so excited when Mindy agrees to test out the apartment that he flips the keys and catches them before giving her a firm man-to-man handshake, just like they do back in the old country.
Anyway, Mindy doesn’t need us to fight her battles. She can take care of herself. She wants so badly to believe that Danny really does want to rebuild their friendship that she invites Charlie over to prove Peter wrong. But then Danny gets that “Stop touching my stuff” look on his face and the jig is up. That’s not to say that real feelings aren’t the foundation of his little tantrum. But his Staten-Off with Charlie is all alpha male energy gone awry. Charlie has been telling Mindy for the whole episode that she can take charge, that she doesn’t have to wait for “man help” to deal with the obstacles that life throws at her. So though operating a fire extinguisher on her own is definitely a triumph, it’s her clear-eyed analysis of Danny’s motives that truly deserved this week’s slow clap. We should have seen this coming. He expected that being neighbors with Mindy would look like sexy movie nights that occasionally get a little out of hand. She expected Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson.
Danny sees his plan backfiring (he didn’t install her in that apartment to have to watch her move on from a few feet away) and throws his Hail Mary. He comes at her for a kiss in the exact same posture that he did on the plane back from Santa Fe. He expects the same results. But you don’t get to pull that move more than once with the same girl. On the plane, that desperate, yearning, physical appeal told her something that she hadn’t known before. Here, it’s nothing more than a cheap last ditch effort to win back her attention. “I don’t know, I just wanted to.” It sounds pathetic and just so not enough. He’s attracted to her. She knows this. What she wants to know is what he plans to do about it.
Everyone’s got a little bit of good old fashioned growing up to do in this episode. Who could have guessed that Peter would be the fastest learner? He goes on one real adult date with Jeremy’s friend Lauren (writer Tracey Wigfield, who is not only multitalented but seriously gorgeous as well – unfair.) and it’s goodbye forever to ladies who dot their i’s with little hearts and stars and rainbows and shit. Jeremy reports back that Lauren finds Peter immature and he reacts – eventually – like a grown-ass man. Despite his bro-y bluster, Peter is the Mindy character most willing to let himself be changed. He’s so committed to being the kind of person that a kind of person like Lauren would want to be with, that he pulls her out of surgery. Maybe not the best start. “So help me God,” he vows to her. “I will make you like me.” Too intense? Possibly. But it’s a welcome change from Danny’s wishy-washiness.
For as delicious as Tim Daly is in this part (I almost choked when he whipped his jacket off to get down to business in the kitchen), there isn’t any heat between Charlie and Mindy. He’s a buffer, and that’s fine. We could certainly do worse. I will always appreciate him for helping Mindy to realize that she’s braver and more capable than she thinks she is and for making a sauce that even the firstborn son of Mrs. Castellano had to admit was superb. (“Dammit. It’s really good.”)
- “I knew it. You’re too handsome. You’re like Ted Bundy!”
- Jeremy Reed, where have you been all my life?
- Mindy/Peter are BrOTP #1. Jeremy/Peter are BrOTP #2. He got his Billie Jean King!
- “Jeremy is that you? You got fat again.”
- “So you admit that you were alive. You’re a crone.“
- Please let a limited edition Mindy Project Target collection be the next phase of this corporate sponsorship.
- That Jennifer Love Hewitt comment was surely a ploy to make us extra annoyed at Danny and it worked.
- Peter gives to charity and never tells anyone about it. Help.
- “I know family-style stresses you out, so you can go first. Whadaya say?”
- “You give me any garment, I take the butt out of it.”
Sad news as we head into next week’s finale, Mindy-ans. The adorable Zoe Jarman will not be back next season as a series regular, though she is likely to guest star. While not exactly a surprise given where the show’s focus has been this year, Betsy’s absence will still be felt. Anytime someone calls for attention for an announcement, my inner-Betsy automatically finishes, “Dr. Reed is thin and handsome again!” So, there’s a legacy. Best of luck, Zoe. We’ll miss you!