Season 3, Episode 16: Lahiri Family Values
Season 3, Episode 17: Danny Castellano Is My Nutritionist
Posted by Sage
Thanks for bearing with me, you beautiful Mindians. This recap comes to you exceedingly late because #ConLife sometimes gets in the way of #LifeLife which then gets in the way of #BlogLife. However! My tardiness does mean that I have thoughts for you on not one, but two post-pregnancy reveal Mindys. And the episodes pair quite well, being as they are about how our new parents are re-adjusting their lives in the wake of this news.
As was to be expected, baby Lahiri-Castellano brought an end to Mindy’s flirtation with San Francisco, though not so much directly. In fact, moony-eyed dad-to-be Danny is suddenly all about the move, so long as he can keep his weekly Staten mass dates with Ma. He voices his barefoot and pregnant fantasies, but we know that the mother of his child is the one in the driver’s seat. With visions of her new family hanging off of street cars and scaling the city’s ass-firming inclines dancing in her head, Mindy heads back west to see a member of the old Lahiri clan. Rishi, where have you been all my life?
The Castellanos have a tendency to devour everything in their path. Once they were introduced to the show, they couldn’t help but take over. That’s what they do. And Danny is such a product of his upbringing; every characteristic of his folks can be traced forward to one of his quirks. To know the Castellanos is to know Danny better. There’s a lot of comedic meat in a bunch of co-dependent Staten Island Sicilians, but they’re also a frame of reference for our leading man. Mindy though, stands a little more on her own.
From her own mouth, we know that the influence of Mindy’s parents can be seen most clearly in the reflection from her bottomless ego. They’ve always indulged her. But other than that, Mindy is a wild card. A significant part of her character is that she’s got an outrageous amount of confidence, for anyone. (Rishi: “In terms of entitlement and personality, you the whitest man I know.”) Her out-sized personality isn’t grounded in reality; to try to consistently contextualize the caricature would be a mistake.
Besides, The Mindy Project is a show that’s driven more by character than plot. Another sitcom would have brought Mindy’s parents into her relationship long ago, unable to resist the juicy culture clash. Leaving them out of the equation (for now) is a less traditional choice. Maybe the Lahiris would be fine with it, maybe there would be conflict. But the show is saying that, whatever that outcome would be, it’s just not that interesting of a question right now.
Instead, we’re given more of Mindy’s relationship with her wayward little brother. I like how Mindy and Rishi’s paths show two different results of that permissive, encouraging parenting style. Mindy channeled her mom and dad’s adoration into a doctorate and the long-defended right of a professional, adult woman to dress like Lizzie McGuire. Rishi, on the other hand, learned to rely on the bailout, and on his golden boy shine staying fresh through all his failures. When Mindy finds him in San Francisco, she can barely see his front door through the eviction notices. (“California has mad squatters’ rights, son.”)
But if Mindy will helicopter her fuck-up future son out of the Hamptons, who is she to deny Rishi a little nurturing? She sees it as her duty to get her baby brother on the right path, and gainful employment is the first step. Gurglar is leery at first, but the divorcee softens to Rishi’s excuse that he’s going through “a really emotional time.” All is going well (“You’re the man now, dog.”) until Rob scans down to Rishi’s reference: one Big Murder. And that’s how Mindy finds out that her brother is a drug dealer.
The siblings play a game of truth chicken. If Mindy blabs on Rishi’s sales, he’ll expose her being “unmarried and pregnant with a white man’s baby.” With that avenue closed, Mindy decides to shut it down herself. And while she may be enamored with San Francisco, it’s not the stoner, hippie culture that has her packing up her life. (“At least cocaine has an industrious spirit.”) She demands that Rishi quit his lucrative gig and is confident that Rob will still honor the clinic’s job offer. Easy, yes? But one does not simply walk away from this blog’s Most Handsome Young Man 2014.
No need to flash forward 15 years to see what Mindy will look like when she storms into a principal’s office to extricate her own little idiot. She stalks into Big Murder’s place ready to take down whatever mental picture she has of a drug kingpin, but is thrown by the dapper (and fiiiiiine) business man standing before her. Big Murder is so called because he “killed it in business school” and he’s inspired more of a work ethic in Rishi than any of his previous employers. Clearly, this can’t go on (“If you continue to be a drug dealer, I will kill you. Then I will kill Greg. Then I will burn this building to the ground.”), but Mindy hopes that Rishi will carry over what he’s learned to a more legal career. It’s hard to fault Gurglar for not risking his credit on a spoiled burn-out, but his denial shows her how good she’s got it back in New York. Jeremy may not agree or like it, but Shulman & Associates is the Wahlburgers of obstetrics, where the only three things that matter are “family, second chances, and juicy delicious hamburgers.” A practice that won’t hire Rishi wouldn’t have hired a Morgan or a Beverly or a Betsy or even a Peter. And those dummies are her family too.
Back in New York, that family is caught up in the ol’ sitcom chestnut of the terminal misunderstanding. Danny’s announcement that he’s leaving the practice gets construed as proof of his impending and untimely death. And then it’s that thing where everything he says seems to prove his coworkers’ suspicions until they’re hosting a preemptive wake in the break-room. (“Apologize to the Staten Island Catholic Boys Choir.”) All is forgiven when the truth outs. Weirdo extended support network has been fully informed; everyone embraces Danny and Mindy; and Cliff’s office space becomes available just in time for Mindy to act on her entrepreneurial cravings. We’ll miss you, San Fran. You sure were full of hot dudes.
Equilibrium has been re-established by the time “Danny Castellano Is My Nutritionist” rolls around. No one is moving to the west coast and Mindy is still – as she’s always been – eating for two.
Mindy is dealing with a wave of morning sickness that has her puking in every vestibule she can find, from Danny’s nightstand (“Sorry, bible.”); Morgan’s red fedora (“which some of you called ‘the crime of the century'”); and, in the best case scenario, the candy pink barf bucket that Morgan bedazzled for her. To make matters worse, Papa Danny is cracking the whip and flaunting his own steel-toed willpower. He’ll turn Mindy into a lean, mean baby-cooking machine, and he’ll do it with shame and actual cold turkey. (“I’ll kill you.”)
Anyway, is there a group of humans who take worse care of themselves than doctors? According to my physician friends, the life of a medical professional includes a minimum of sleep, a maximum of alcohol, and an existence largely sustained by the break room garbage that makes up most of Mindy’s prenatal diet.
But sure enough, one of these calm and steady Melvins wins Mindy over. Dr. Bergdahl validates her righteousness by diagnosing her nausea as stress-induced, not diet-induced. And therefore: Danny-induced. (“Me? that’s ridiculous, I’m her rock. I mean it, she sits on me to think sometimes.”) Cold medicine commercial guy may be dull, but he did some superb doctor-ing when it came down to it. I don’t know if Bergdahl is in it for the long haul, but I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll fit in nicely with this cast of characters.
- “It’s a boy, I can hear his penis.”
- Nature’s Dads, you guys. I’ll be okay.
- Danny’s fish bowl of concert tickets is my favorite bit of set decoration.
- “His little errrs.”
- “That’s where I lock myself when I need to be racist.”
- Peter’s Lauren updates! If I wanted to have my heart broken over Skype, I’d get an aloof British boyfriend….Can I get an aloof British boyfriend?
- “Here is your gift bag.” “That’s my purse.” “I put a mug in it.”
- “Why is this steak white?”
- HELLO OLD FRIEND.
- “I’m not doing a C-3PO impression, this is how I talk.”
- “Work Bitch” montage!
Feel free to come in with that renewal anytime, Fox.