Season 3, Episode 6: Caramel Princess Time
Posted by Sage
I wouldn’t call continuity one of The Mindy Project‘s greatest strengths. But occasionally there’s a holdover from a past episode that brings great joy to my life, such as Dr. Fishman’s ongoing belief that Daniel Castellano is an unstable individual.
He is, though. For someone who counts himself among the “normals,” Danny sure can fall spectacularly apart. And it’s usually Mindy Lahiri who gets him there. He’s literally crazy about her. Life is good.
Once the show closed out its rom-com years, we entered a new chapter and got a beautiful gift. Danny doesn’t have to be the traditional leading man anymore; he can stop trying to match Bradley Cooper’s suit game. Danny’s dreaminess is like gravity, or your best costume idea of all time coming to you the morning of November 1st. It’s a foregone conclusion. So now he can focus entirely on being funny. A for effort and results so far.
To teach her a lesson, Ricky Ricardo-style, Danny invites Mindy to a night of “Italian-American comedy” at a stand-up club, books a table right down front, and peaces out when she’s ten minutes late. I can’t imagine a more excruciating evening, so I think Mindy deserved a little more credit for even agreeing to go. But Danny’s plan plays out just as he intended: Mindy’s confusion leads to frantic texting, which leads to some mild heckling from one of the as-yet obscure Italian Kings of Comedy. He even gets a chance to utilize his catchphrase. That denim jacket is going to pay for itself someday. If only Mindy would agree to join him on tour.
Tamra backs Mindy up on her right to take her time, insisting that “Caramel Princess Time” is a thing. I imagine that she leaves Morgan waiting for hours at a time, just so he never forgets that she’s worth it. And Mindy leans on society’s strenuous beauty standards for women (“I’m basically CGI”), though how taxi pizza falls under that umbrella, I’m sure. But Danny finally gets through to her with that old “taste of your own medicine” trope. He’s spent his life pulling his easily distracted mother from hair appointment to mammogram to hair appointment; he knows what Mindy will get when she takes on Annette’s jam-packed Saturday. (Also, welcome back Dot! Please pretend to be my mean great-aunt so we can go to diners and talk about people who think they can pull off those stretch pants but can’t.) Why does he stand for it when it comes to his mother? Because Danny’s whole personality is defined by how he stepped into the role vacated by his dad. (“No wonder Danny’s such a tight ass.”)
You don’t have to be trained in the art of Eastern medicine or an expert on “shriek therapy” to have Danny Castellano’s number. But Brendan is actually the perfect person to help him confront his issues. He’s too pompous to let therapy-phobic Danny off the hook. (“You want to stop acting crazy? Eat lean protein and exercise 10 times a week like a normal person!”) His grandpa reading glasses and propensity for teaching lessons clearly speak to Danny’s dad-like need to control and care for people. And what’s more inherently “dad” than complaining about your scattered baby ducklings while secretly reveling in how much they need you? But underneath it all, Danny is still a lonely kid sitting on the sidewalk outside a movie theater, waiting for the paternal attention he craves. Brendan gets it out of him. Sadistically, but you know what they say about ends and means.
We see a lot more of Danny’s family than Mindy’s these days, which makes a lot of sense, story-wise. Mindy wears her heart, liver, and spleen on her sleeve. We love her because she has a direct, filter-free line from her feelings to her mouth – she always says exactly what she’s thinking. Danny’s more guarded, and his relatives – whether they’re present or not – give Mindy an access point to the chewy caramel center of emotions inside. She delights in giving him the business when she thinks he’s being too uptight, but turns instantly protective when the sensitive roots of his behavior come out to say hello. (How deeply sad was his “parents of divorce” line? Who was taking care of little Danny?) There are people who care because they are compassionate and there are people who learn to be compassionate because they care. Mindy is in the latter camp – she’s always going to be on Danny’s side and if that loyalty makes her a better person, so be it. Sometimes you gotta take the good with the good.
Still sore after being coldly dumped by Lauren, Peter jumps at the chance to be set up with a woman Tamra describes as her “twin.” Maybe Peter took her words too literally, but he still should have been thanking his lucky stars because blind date Abby is Fargo breakout Allison Tolman. We lo-oooove her.
Peter goes back to see Abby because her perceptiveness (and Tamra and Morgan’s righteous fury) made him feel guilty. But once he gets to the book store and sees her in her true element, her confidence draws him in. Let me be clear: he does not, at any time, feel sorry for her. It’s just that when Peter takes the time to look, he sees that there’s actually nothing about Abby that he doesn’t like. He even embarasses himself in front of her admirers to prove that he’s for real. (“A Titanic mistake: a sunken romance.”)
Danny is Mindy’s foil, but Peter is her parallel. He’s living his own Peter Project right now, learning how to be a friend and a boyfriend and a guy who can make his own choices without approval from the fraternity hivemind. It’s a lot easier to stay that original path (says that guy from CNN who surrounds the word “feminist” with airquotes), so I’m allowed a little pride in Peter’s growth.
Random Thoughts and B-Stories:
- Tamra’s “I wanna set you up” dance.
- “Are you describing Look Who’s Talking?”
- “Natalie Portman would throw up if she saw you.”
- “I support you.” “I think I’m cured.”
- “I’m sorry that I had to blackmail you.” “Whatever.”
- Jenny McCarthy shade!
- Brendan should be therapizing someone every week. “She was late to which particular ethnic exploitation film?” “There has to be a priest somewhere.”
- “I’m sorry. Were you there, John Waters?”
That’s all I’ve got. Now. Kindly overcome whatever deep childhood trauma that’s preventing you from commenting on this post and just do it.