We live in a society that puts a premium on white women with perfect noses, and right now I’m 0 for 2.
Much to my delight, the witty banter and funny one-liners continue in episode two of The Mindy Project. This week begins and ends with funny scenes that place Mindy and Danny on the subway. Mindy starts the show narrating the beauty and potential of love surrounding her on the train, but ends the day with a slightly more cynical take after having her efforts rewarded with a punch in the face.
Whereas the pilot felt like a frantic scatter-shot of one-liners and possible plots, I liked the way this episode narrowed down to one central more serious theme with a very funny comedic candy coating. This week we get some insight into the struggle Mindy faces trying to establish herself in a white male-dominated workplace. She calls a meeting of the partners, and she’s asked if it’s Oscar ballot season. She takes the initiative recommending an incompetent employee gets fired, and the task of hiring the replacement is given to her male counterpart. It takes her playing the race/gender card to assume the responsibility of hiring a new nurse, and even then her ability to complete the task is called into question by her superiors and colleagues. The show has given us no reason to believe that this skepticism is due to anything other than Mindy’s penchant for romantic comedies and discussing her personal life at work. Sure, last week she gave an inappropriate toast at a former lover’s wedding and was arrested for public intoxication, but what is really behind her colleagues’ hesitation to take her seriously?
As the episode plays out, Mindy proves her maturity and professionalism while interviewing nurse candidates. Yet it isn’t until she assumes the difficult task that none of her colleagues are willing to take on (firing the incompetent nurse) and getting a broken nose for her troubles, that her colleagues finally seem to take her seriously. At the end of the day, Mindy fires someone, hires someone, gets punched, and gains a little more respect from her co-workers. The price you pay to be taken seriously at work really is quite painful!
I also enjoyed watching Mindy, an Indian woman, strive to be taken seriously by her colleagues. No doubt this struggle is one that women of color who are real-life doctors face, too, and it also points toward the struggle that real-life Mindy Kaling is dealing with as she creates and stars in her own show. The Mindy Project hasn’t quite hit its stride, but I’m hopeful that it will and that enough viewers will stick with it until it does. It seems capable of bringing a comedic perspective to some serious and some totally unserious issues.
As last night’s episode showed, the unserious can feel important too–like why doesn’t Key Lime Pie frozen yogurt taste anything like key lime pie? Mindy’s repeated attempts to find a decent fro-yo flavor were outlandish (Really, who keeps returning unsatisfying cups of yogurt?) yet rang true (Really, who hasn’t wanted to send back the dessert that fails to deliver?). That the guy she had just met kept a good attitude throughout this process bodes well for Mindy’s love life, and the sense of humor Seth Myers brought to this guest spot might be good news for viewers too. It would be fun to see Mindy have at least a few dates with him before things fall apart.
As for Mindy’s other new relationship: How long will freshly hired nurse Morgan/Ransom stay in the picture? His antics might bring a few laughs, but his history of imprisonment, even if it was just for stealing cars, and his lack of boundaries (inviting the doctors interviewing him to touch his belly tattoo; giving Mindy instructions about the sexual positions that are off-limits while her broken nose heals) might be just plain awkward–or worse!–in the context of an OBGYN office. The likely train-wreck of this hiring decision makes me eager to tune in next week.