The Mindy Project
Season 3, Episode 4: I Slipped
Posted by Sage
Well, that escalated quickly. Pope Frank and Standards and Practices must have had their eyes closed and fingers in their ears last night, because The Mindy Project went places last night no network sitcom has gone before. Even if they didn’t entirely get there. Sorry, Danny.
The writers are really flooring it when it comes to the awkward search for equilibrium in a new relationship. They took it from 0 (“Try some cantaloupe!”) to 60 (“So…is buttsex on the table?”) in a matter of four episodes. Frankly, I’m impressed.
It’s not two days old and this episode has already inspired strong reactions and serious conversations on how we portray consent on TV. I’m not here to tell anyone who found flaws in the episode that they’re wrong, because a) you can’t talk anyone out of being offended and b) the anger that I feel when people try to do that to me could power Mindy’s nosehair trimmer from now until the end of time. I’m just going to give you my personal perspective on it, as a Mindy fan, a comedy geek, and a feminist. Fair warning: this is gonna get graphic.
The show implies that, up until now, their sex life has been constant and constantly adventurous. But for Mindy, this Fifth Base is a step too far. Now, for the graphic part. Guys. She’s never done it before. Gettin’ it in there would require a lot of time and coaxing (and I’m sorry to say it: lube). More time than that short scene allotted. So my interpretation is that Danny physically made the suggestion (please get my meaning so I don’t have to spell it out) and she reacted to that. And he immediately stopped. He lied, but he stopped.
Mindy and Danny are flawed characters (some might even call them “terrible people and huge liars“) and thus cannot be left alone to deal with his incident in a mature way. Danny wants to absolve himself of all charges (“I saw how it all went down.” “Danny, this isn’t Benghazi.”), even leaning on his go-to excuse: his Catholicism. (“Even if I think about that-” “They promote you to Cardinal?”) Meanwhile, Mindy seeks out the validation of her suspicions via Peter, her “most perverted friend,” who knows what “I slipped” means the second it hits his ears.
Apparently, the confusion that arose during “Indian BBW” wasn’t put to bed in that episode, so to speak. Danny’s still operating under the misconception that Mindy is far more experienced than he is thanks to her dating history and cable bill, rather than the “prude that slays dudes like whoa” who is more in line with how she sees herself. She’s totally justified in calling him out on his “that kind of girl” business after he rides his poor eyesight excuse all the way to Dr. Colin. (“I will not be slut-shamed in an ophthalmologist’s office!”)
Unfortunately, Mindy has already internalized the “that kind of girl” fallacy and sets about converting herself into the sex kitten she thinks Danny would prefer. Nevermind that he seems to have moved on completely from the idea and started on his nighttime regimen. The tag team of Peter and Brian the Skeleton can’t restore Mindy’s confidence, no matter how many Kama Sutra for Psycopaths positions they suggest. (“It’s called ‘the Bagpipe.'”) Left only with her first/last resort, Mindy does the next logical thing: she trades Morgan a framed photo of her and her dad for a roofie prescription.
Mindy loosely holds a kitchen knife while she sits on the fire escape above a city sidewalk; she eats bear claws off the street; she reads Sarah Palin books. She does a lot of things that are bad for her and the people around her. Yes, it’s patently insane to take roofies so you won’t mind that much when your boyfriend does stuff to you. And the show portrays it as such. Though in a very unhealthy way, it actually shows a twisted kind of trust in Danny, which he earns. I can’t see her using this tactic with any one of her exes. (I shudder to think how Josh would have handled it.) But Danny was concerned as soon as she started acting funny; nothing about him in that scene read, “Oh, yes! A drugged and pliable woman in my bed!”
The truth is that “that kind of girl” is a trap. The relentless pressure to seem cool and chill and down for anything is bullshit, as Gillian Flynn knows. That’s why the barely concealed fury of the “Cool Girl” speech in Gone Girl was so effective. Because it’s the realness. But Mindy’s personality is too big to be easily wrangled into the oversize jersey and meticulously-applied barely-there make-up preferred by cool girls and their men everywhere. She can’t take a sip of scotch without doing a spit take; she can’t listen to jazz without loudly registering her immediate negative response. She can’t be the casually up-the-butt girl. Mindy is not one of those women who will slowly lose herself in her relationship, buried impulse by buried impulse. Just look at the Mindy paraphernalia that’s asserted itself in Danny’s apartment.
Danny, for his part, isn’t hung up on what’s off the table. Not completely, at least. He soothes Mindy in exactly the wrong way by telling her that he doesn’t need excitement from her – just comfort. And I have to address the accusation that Danny was trying to manipulate her out of her comfort zone here. Danny looooves comfort. It’s kind of his thing. He wants to hang out at home, watching a Ken Burns doc series or JAG reruns and organizing his balsamics. And he wants Mindy there while he does it. To Danny Castellano (and John Mayer), “comfortable” is not a criticism.
He’d have done better to skip right to his speech at Mindy’s bedside. (Like The X-Files, Mindy sets a lot of its relevatory moments in hospitals.) Before he goes off on Western expansion and The Gold Rush, he dispels the false impression that what he did revealed some inner need to change her. “It didn’t mean anything and I don’t want you to be anything.” She’s enough. It’s all enough. They can be daredevils in bed or they can not, and they have the right to change what they are from night to night, if they feel like it. All that matters is they’re on the same page. Real, monogamous sexual relationships do not start off with a 50 Shades-style contract. They’re a constant back-and-forth: “Is this okay?” “Can we try this?” “Does that work for you?” Being curious about the butt stuff doesn’t make Danny a bad guy. SAYING that he’s curious about the butt stuff doesn’t make Danny a bad guy. Respecting Mindy’s boundaries does make Danny a good guy.
- Mindy and Danny trade casual “I love yous” during their morning routine and it’s all so domestic, I want to cry.
- Hashtag Team Peter for always, but – like the rest of the office – I’m ready for Peter and Jeremy’s feud over Lauren to be over. “I Slipped” had the funniest moments we’ve ever got out of that storyline: Jeremy sadly playing “The Sound of Silence” on a banjo; Morgan “Lindsay Lohan-ing” them at dinner. But it feels too nasty and real for this show. They both characters deserve better, especially my Pete, whom I cherish.
- “All I’ve wanted in my life was to abandon all my friends for a boyfriend!”
- “Let’s leave God out of this. He doesn’t know about us. I told him you were my assistant.”
- “You think I want to hurt Caleb? I love Caleb!”
- “Oh, a person. Like in the picture.”
- Peter knows Mindy so well that he can confidently say she wouldn’t like the act. It’s pretty sweet, actually.
- “I got carried away. The giants won. I used my pizza stone. You were wearing those sexy stockings.” “My compression socks?”
- “Me cry now joy.” Me too, Morgan.
- Danny finally has someone to explain Colbert to him again! #ishearealguy?
There’s a lot to unpack here, and I’m dying to hear what you guys think. Don’t forget to be respectful of each other in the comments!