The Mindy Project
Season 3, Episode 2: Annette Castellano Is My Nemesis
Posted by Sage
Danny: “Yeah, I’m a doctor.”
Rabbi Adler: “Mom must be proud.”
Danny: “Who knows how to please that woman?”
—An Officer and a Gynecologist
We met her in the flesh for the first time this week, but Danny’s “Ma” has been a presence on this show almost from the very beginning. We always knew she was tough. And super-Catholic. And the object of her eldest son’s considerable devotion. And now we also know that she’s Rhea Perlman. The casting is inspired, especially with Dan Hedaya already playing Danny’s estranged father. Carla and Nick Tortelli, not-together again!
Nothing of what we know of Mrs. Castellano makes it seem that Danny/Mindy (and Mindy in general) would be an easy sell. Danny’s hesitant too, which is why he planned to drape Mindy in the face-covering garb that’s traditional to whatever religion she is at their wedding and then, to wait it out until his mother dies. Oh, Danny. You know who you’re dating now. You can say goodbye forever to avoidance as a problem-solving tactic. Mindy’s got a “full-proof, 4-point” plan for everything, and she’s jumping right in. Also, I’m inclined to forgive Danny for letting his mom think that Mindy was his maid, because he didn’t even flinch when Mindy brought up getting married.
And her plan is totally working. Mindy shows up, uninvited, to Annette’s birthday brunch, all sunshine and fabulous magenta, prepared to win Danny’s mom over if it kills her. She compliments Annette’s Janet Reno Collection blazer (Step 1); will not rest until she finds some common television ground (Step 2); and presents Annette and her best pal Dot with some novelty t-shirts that go over like gangbusters. (Step 3). Danny is practically beaming with pride. His two best girls are getting along.
But the house of cards falls down at Step 4: Agree with everything she says. Mindy’s game to talk shit on the waiter, a mystery ethnic group, and even her obsession Michael Fassbender (“Put some clothes on, you ugly perv.”) but she will not participate in devaluing Danny. We’ve always known that Danny would do anything for his beloved mother. But now we learn that he’s hardly ever thanked for his thoughtfulness and effort. Richie is the baby – the golden boy, even though his only “jobs” are playing tennis and making “that web series about being gay on a budget.” Danny is the son left to contend with the impossibly high standards, whose gifts are either too much or not enough. The same Hudson News teddy bear that gets Richie praised would have been scoffed at if it had come from his brother. One of the series-defining running jokes of The Mindy Project is that Mindy is selfish (“Are you insane? I’m difficult! I make you get me a present every day, otherwise I freak out.”), but she barely weighs the options before sacrificing all the goodwill she’s built up with Annette to defend Danny. She’s not just his girlfriend – she’s his best friend. And she knows that this is killing him.
The show doesn’t have to spell the deep-seated family drama out for us, and I appreciate a writers room who trusts us to get it on our own. Danny stepped up when his dad left, and probably even before. He admired his mom’s strength (He looks so proud when he tells the Rabbi what a tough broad she is.) while doing everything he could to protect her from harm. He’s not going to be the kind of man his dad was, the kind to always put his own comfort over the needs of the people he loves. Annette minimizes Danny’s contributions to her life not because she isn’t grateful (“You think I don’t know my son is great?”), but because she’s embarrassed that she’s become so reliant on his care. (“Italian people don’t get over things. They let their anger fester and ferment, getting stronger over time. That’s why our wine is so good.”) Who better than a “strong, immigrant woman” to insert her big cans into the situation and set these fools straight?
This is why Mindy is good for Danny. She refuses to let him avoid his emotional missed connections, especially when she can see that they’ve been built over a foundation of fierce love and loyalty. But she’s also happy to be the one to get her hands dirty. They’re such a team. And they were long before they officially-officially got together.
Over at Shulman & Associates, Peter and Morgan are dealing with their own complex relationships. Morgan and Tamara are getting serious (RayRon, we hardly knew you), and Morgan’s making some serious changes. Burned by Lauren’s betrayal, Peter projects onto Morgan’s situation. (“All women have thicker folds in their brains making them more manipulative by nature.”) He suspects that Tamara is lying about her allergy to control Morgan. (“She’s allergic to dogs like I’m allergic to latex.”) It’s kind of sweet, actually. Peter knows that Morgan’s dogs are “basically [his] whole identity,” and he can’t stand to see him give them away. (“I don’t love you any more. In fact, I hate you. Your name is not Nicole, it’s Anonymous. Goodbye forever.”) I had been rooting for Jeremy, who’s off screen and in the penalty box this week, to be Peter’s office bro. But maybe the true friendship OTP is Peter/Morgan. Anyway, the ratio of the inspiration behind Peter’s butting-in is like, 60% friendship/40% intense distrust of women due to recent trauma.
Morgan gifts Nicole – hemorrhoids and all – to Peter, because “it’d be good for you to have a strong, female influence in your life.” Morgan likes that his life is different with Tamara in it. Danny likes that Mindy is making her mark on his. The Mindy Project is doing its part to put the nail in the coffin of the ubiquitous archetype of the overbearing wife/girlfriend wipe the concept of being “whipped” (Wuuu-pah!) right out of our cultural consciousness. Domestic beer and satellite TV commercials are quaking in their sweatpants.
Random Thoughts and B-Stories:
So casual right now.
- “Are you the King of Siam? You’re too good for an inside look at the fall line-up?”
“That was for your eyes only! It was beautiful and it was erotic.”
- “I myself can’t go – I’ve been banned for sample fraud.”
- “Danny, could you read me the whole menu?” “I forgot my hearing aid, so make it loud.”
Date me, Danny. I could talk to your mom about Castle all day.
A friend texted me that “this is the exact kind of dress a guy wouldn’t understand” and I love that detail. Also, I need this bra.
- “She’s gonna kill those dogs and make them into a jacket…” “Beverly!”
- “You have broken a good, if not weird man’s spirit.”
Let’s talk about this incredible mother/son photo. It looks like it was taken at Motherboy: The Holiday Edition.
- “Every time we take a shower together, he makes a donation to the Vatican.” Dandy are getting it at all times in all places.
- “Are you making sausage and meatballs? It’s okay if you’re not, I just want to mentally prepare for disappointment.”
- “I bought Danny those pants and he’s tearing right through them.”
- I also find it adorable that Morgan trusts Peter with one of the 40 pups he refused to hand over to anyone else. I’m friend-shipping them hard right now, what can I say?
Danny’s a pro at seduction, even under the watchful eye of many a mustachioed sports hero of the ’70s. I am here for it.
Did Danny’s Ma live up to your expectations, Mindians? Leave your thoughts on “Annette Castellano Is My Nemesis” in the comments!