The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Is nightclub stuff still interesting to you?

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The third episode of The Mindy Project showed improvement in its focus and coherence but wasn’t a standout in terms of comedy. Setting a television episode in a nightclub isn’t new, but this take on the club scene contained a few fresh laughs, like Mindy drinking red wine with ice because they didn’t have sangria and Danny bizarrely dancing at a distance from Shauna, presumably to avoid grinding with a subordinate from work.

I enjoyed the exploration of workplace friendships, which is familiar territory that has the potential to continue being funny. So far I find this quirky bunch of coworkers to be pretty likeable, which makes it nice to see them get along. I find Jeremy to be pretty boring, though, and I don’t think I’ll muster the energy to care about whether he stops sleeping around. Watching him attempt to confess his lies to the bachelorette he’d been hitting on didn’t make me proud of him or angry with him; it just made me bored.

On the other hand, it’s easier to root for Mindy to make good decisions about her friendships and potential romantic relationships. The sports lawyer who got her into the VIP room at the club seemed like a jerk, but she didn’t let that keep her from enjoying the company of the NBA players at the next table. When Mindy chose her friends/coworkers over continuing to rub elbows with famous people at an after-party, it seemed she had made a wise choice in terms of friendships and (avoiding) romance. Then the lawyer’s nice gesture of sending a limo to take her home suggested that he wasn’t such a jerk after all.

Despite this promising ending to their first meeting, I’m doubting we’ll see the lawyer again, as Seth Myers–last week’s promising date–was nowhere to be seen in this episode. Perhaps the show will use a string of single episode encounters to try to make us see that Mindy and Danny are the ones who really belong together, but I hope it doesn’t take that path. Already the show is trying to tell us that we should want them to be together, but it’s not using a very artful approach to actually make us want that.

-EMS

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To answer the question posed in the post title – No, not really. I just don’t find the club scene a compelling setting in general and despite the two comedic moments you pointed out, it didn’t do anything for me. I found this episode to be very “meh” and if anyone watching The Mindy Project for the first time tuned in to this episode I couldn’t really blame them for passing on the show.
While it’s true that there was a little more focus in this episode (a night out with co-workers),  the pacing of the show is still too hectic and rushed. Jokes don’t develop, they just get thrown at you and then it’s on to the next thing. That format lends itself to a sketch show like Portlandia or a series of shorts in Louie, but this show seems to want to build a comedic narrative and right now it just feels too choppy. That being said, I know from decades of television watching that it takes a show some time to find its groove, and I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now and see where this goes.

While watching this episode, I was also struck by the way the show seems unsure of what they want for Mindy (or maybe what she wants for herself). The intro sequence in the pilot paints Mindy as the hopeless romantic searching for true love – a character type which was reinforced last week with her subway soliloquy. Yet in each of the first two episodes she has promising dates only to have the guy disappear from the show a week later with no explanation or mention of him again. I agree with your point that we probably won’t see the sports lawyer after this week as well. All of this is to say, if we see Mindy bounce around from one potential partner to another from week to week, do we end up believing that she and Danny are the only fit for each other as you suggest? Or do we just come to realize that Mindy doesn’t actually want a relationship, and would rather just get into the VIP lounge and chat up some NBA players.

Lastly, with the exception of Mindy and Danny, the show has done little to develop other characters so far. Jeremy is profoundly uninteresting as you point out, and I have been given no reason to care about Mindy’s friend, Gwen. I felt little sympathy toward Shauna when she was rebuked by Danny, mostly because I know nothing about her (when she delivers a line early in the episode, the person watching with me commented, “Hey, didn’t she have a foreign accent in the first two episodes?”). It is still early and building up interesting characters can take time, but I’m just not feeling any kind of connection to most of the cast so far. Maybe they can cut back on the cameos (which are starting to feel like desperate ratings grabs) and instead better acquaint us with the actual cast of the show.

-JWG

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