Everyone, we have a winner: Beyonce Pad Thai!
After a couple of weeks without a new episode, The Mindy Project returned with improved focus. The opening sequence of Mindy playing the part of a woman from every romantic comedy–dressed in her lover’s button-down and acting adorable–got turned on its head when Josh accidentally put on Mindy’s jeans and wondered why they had so much room in the waist and rear…and so many Jolly Ranchers in the pocket. I thought the playful scene was laugh-out loud funny, and I figure if the show is going to make jokes about Mindy’s weight, they had better be as good as this one. Josh’s reaction (“It’s fine. We’re doing the same thing.”) put another check in the nice guy column for those still deciding between jerk and nice guy.
The rest of the episode exhibited a tighter storyline than previous episodes. Given my criticisms of the show’s lack of focus on work, I was happy that this episode largely was set in the workplace. We didn’t see much work transpire, but at least the receptionist admonished one of the doctors that the patients he kept waiting were now in another trimester.
The back-and-forth between Mindy and Danny also returned in this episode, as they played chicken to see who would back down first at the prospect of Danny becoming Mindy’s gynecologist. I’m still not rooting for them to get together, but I’m game for more awkward sparring between them, especially if Mindy continues to win with maneuvers like a closed-eyed “mmmm” in response to Danny’s breast exam technique. Yikes. Well played, Mindy.
I agree, after a few lackluster episodes, The Mindy Project was back in full force this week. The opening scene between Mindy and Josh was VERY funny and really set the tone for the rest of the episode. And it was probably just the right amount of time dedicated those two for now – Josh’s character is growing on me, but he is still better in small doses. The highlight of the episode for me was the return of the chemistry and witty back-and-forth between Mindy and Danny. They really play off each other well and it made for some very funny scenes – her discussion of “the whole dance” around female condom etiquette and, of course, the breast exam.
I think there were two major things that contributed to this being a stronger episode. First, we were presented with plot lines and character development through the lens of Mindy rather than as parallel stories. The series is about her, and frankly she’s the funny one, so the show hits its comedic peak when we learn something about supporting characters through their encounters with her. I wasn’t interested in Jeremy and Danny going to the DMV two weeks ago, but I am curious about how Danny’s failed marriage and machismo influence his behavior/feelings toward Mindy. And to a lesser extent, I am a tiny bit more interested in Jeremy the womanizer when viewed through the lens of how Mindy moving past their hookup relationship affects him. The bottom line is that she’s really funny and makes the characters around her funnier and more compelling.
Secondly, the show finally returned to using its jokes to address some of the edgier themes that caught my eye during the pilot. In the last few weeks, the show seemed to get bogged down in overused comedy plot lines that you can’t take anything away from, but there was more substance behind the humor this week. You pointed out the opening scene with Josh putting on Mindy’s jeans (and it is worth reiterating, this was the funniest scene of the series so far) and then Danny taking Mindy’s weight during her physical toward the end. It’s hard to write funny jokes about sensitive or controversial issues, but that’s really where the show’s strength lies and the writers have proven they are capable of doing it.
What really stood out to me was Mindy’s reaction to her male-dominated workplace. Danny thinks he can’t possibly be Mindy’s gynecologist because there’s no way she can avoid being attracted to him. He “sees how she looks at him when he’s in a t-shirt,” and thinks she harbors some serious un-lamp like feelings for him. Granted, it’s probably inappropriate and frankly weird to have your co-worker as your gynecologist, but his statements make assumptions about Mindy’s professionalism – namely that, as a man, Danny is better equipped to compartmentalize his personal and professional lives. It becomes a battle of wills to see who can make the other blink first and let their personal relationship with each other interfere with the professional checkup and exam. Danny plays on Mindy’s insecurities about relationships, having children, and her weight to bait her into calling off the exam. Mindy engages her “warrior mode” (channeling Beyonce Pad-Thai) and counters by bringing up Danny’s own failed marriage and tricking him into discussing sensitive personal elements like his family and childhood. It was a little unfortunate that at the end of the battle, the weapon Mindy utilized to make Danny finally give up was her sexuality and getting naked, because her character is certainly witty enough to hang with Danny. But that being said, it was very funny and I was glad to see this humor focused on a more substantive issue (as opposed to humor surrounding going to clubs or finding a Halloween costume). I hope this marks a return to the promise of The Mindy Project pilot with lots of laughs about things that matter and stick with you after the half hour is up.