I’ve been waiting for a Great Pumpkin and he never seems to show up
The Mindy Project returned this week after a two-week hiatus, and it seemed that Mindy Kaling needed the break to rest up in preparation for carrying this episode. Despite refusing to don the “Linus” costume for a Halloween party, Mindy finds herself in a real life version of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” It takes a 1st grader to bring it to her attention that much like Linus she is waiting around for someone that may never show up. Mindy has dated some interesting/promising men in the first few episodes that we never heard from again. So to see this episode open with a coffee shop morning date between Mindy and Josh (the sports agent that she met in a club during the last episode) was a little surprising. It turns out that much like we viewers, Mindy still isn’t quite sure whether Josh is confident and funny or an annoying jerk. On the one hand, he smugly scrolls through his contact list of potential dates pointing out all the younger women he could take to the Halloween party as a backup should Mindy decide not to accompany him. But then again, he goes online to find out her favorite movie and goes to great lengths to design an Inigo Montoya (or enlightenment era homosexual) costume to impress her. Maybe he’s not “The Great Pumpkin” or even the kind of guy you would curl up with to watch Breaking Bad (as Mindy says), but he has potential and I look forward to seeing if there is anything between them.
Consistent with previous episodes, the scenes that don’t involve Mindy just aren’t very funny. This week the show committed far too much time to a parallel plot line about Danny and Jeremy going to the DMV. The Mindy Project is still finding its way and trying to develop some of the characters, so it’s fair to expect some growing pains. But I wouldn’t mind getting some laughs from the other characters along the way.
You pointed out Mindy’s realization that she’s waiting for a perfect man who
isn’t coming, and this episode left me wondering if I’m waiting for a show that
isn’t coming. At this point, I’d be happy with far less than perfect comic
genius. I want the show to be better than it is, and I’m holding out hope in
Glimmers of The Mindy Project’s promise showed through in the scenes between
Mindy and her ex-boyfriend Tom and between Mindy and her potential boyfriend
Josh. These scenes showcased the actors’ sharp timing and the writers’ skills
for crafting witty banter. Tom’s panicked reaction to Mindy’s mention of
Breaking Bad and the possibility of spoilers, and her rejoinder to him (“If
you’re obsessed with TV, why don’t you keep up with it in a timely way?!”) felt
like a much funnier version of conversations I have all the time. Likewise,
Mindy’s description of Josh (“He’s very funny. Not in the way that you, like,
want to laugh all the time, but you’re like aahh that offends me.”) felt like a
real person trying to figure out if a new acquaintance is funnily sarcastic or
just a jerk. That’s what I want from a television comedy: plausible situations
written and delivered with improbable cleverness.
These few scenes were on target, but the two main plotlines missed the mark. The
Mindy-focused story, that a woman shouldn’t have to choose between being funny
and sexy for Halloween, had its moments, like her Tinkerbell Tailor Soldier Spy
costume, but overall it wasn’t interesting enough to carry the show. The Danny-
and Jeremy-focused story about taking driving tests in pursuit of manhood (“A
man goes where he wants, when he wants.”) was boring. Though presumably it was
meant to develop those two characters, their progress was neither very
interesting nor very funny.
A source for character development that this episode didn’t explore at all was
work–no one did any work. Danny and Jeremy ditched the office for the DMV, and
Mindy and company were in the office but not working. Perhaps this show can
start paying attention to the fact that it’s set in a workplace and stop
worrying about sending its characters to other places. I hope the office can
provide a setting where action isn’t a worry and characters can have more
exchanges that make viewers laugh out loud. The Mindy Project would do well to
take a cue from Parks and Recreation and other smartly written workplace
comedies on this front.