I’m not saying you’re a mess… but I’m not saying you’re not
After last week’s exceptional episode of The Mindy Project, I really had high hopes that the show was starting to turn the corner. They dealt with interesting and somewhat edgy issues in a really funny way. The content this week was interesting and had potential – Mindy’s insecurities about her relationships with Josh and Gwen – but it just wasn’t particularly funny. The problems for Mindy start over a romantic dinner of grilled tilapia with a Red Bull glaze prepared by Josh on his sextet of Panini makers. When the topic of exclusivity in their relationship comes up, he is unwilling to make a commitment to Mindy and it appears their budding romance is about to fall apart.
Upset over what looks like another failed relationship, Mindy spends the remainder of the episode in Greenwich, Connecticut celebrating Thanksgiving with Gwen’s family and friends. One of those friends happens to be Ed Helms’ character (Dennis) who Mindy went on a blind date with in the series pilot. With this reunion comes hope for a rekindled relationship. Unfortunately, Mindy soon finds out that he has moved on to a younger version of Mindy that Gwen set him up with during the “Doors of Greenwich” real estate tour, or as Mindy called it – “Honkey-palooza” (okay, that line was funny). Now feeling betrayed by Josh and Gwen, Mindy goes on the offensive and tries to win over Dennis. This of course falls flat and Mindy and Gwen resort to fisticuffs, but in the end Mindy gets a call from Josh saying he wants to be exclusive after all, so everything is right with the world. While I liked Mindy whispering sexy, sweet nothings about cozy fires, the crisp autumn air, and mashed potatoes into Dennis ear, in general I just didn’t find this whole exchange particularly funny.
I thought the more interesting themes from this episode were actually in the sub-plots that focused on the Thanksgiving celebrations of the other characters. Yes, it was a little depressing to see Danny spend Thanksgiving all alone at the office trying to master “Piano Man” on his electronic keyboard. But it was interesting insight into what happens when you go to such great lengths to compartmentalize your personal and professional lives that you don’t form connections with the people around you. We were left with a little hope at the end that he might warm up and be more engaged with his colleagues – but hopefully not at the expense of his sharp wit and snappy comments.
The bottom line for me – this wasn’t a bad episode, but the bar was set pretty high after last week and it just didn’t provide the laughs that I was hoping for.
I agree that this episode didn’t provide a lot of laughs, but at least it offered reasonably interesting character development, especially for the supporting cast. Jeremy joining Betsy’s family for Thanksgiving gave a little window into both characters’ weirdness. While Betsy is tired of being babied by her family and aspires to be more cosmopolitan than they (who spit out fancy chocolates thinking they’ve gone bad), Jeremy reminds her that she has to endure their coddling only a few times a year. It’s a problem that he would welcome, having been forced into adulthood by his parents’ divorce when he was a child. This exchange made Jeremy more sympathetic and offered some explanation, albeit a predictable sitcom explanation, for his womanizing ways. Betsy’s family background didn’t quite account for her quirkiness, but perhaps the writers will begin to emphasize the theme of her desire for independence rather than her strangeness.
While you found Danny’s solo Thanksgiving depressing, I didn’t think it was that bad. We saw him refuse another coworker’s invitation to dinner, so his decision to spend the day by himself seemed like a real choice for solitude. As you pointed out, though, at the end of the episode, he appeared to be responding to an invitation to join his colleagues, and that brought a smile to his face. If he’s a person who really values both being alone and being with loved ones, then this surely will create tension when he inevitably gets together with Mindy. Will she be able to accept his need to be by himself from time to time? Probably not, so let’s hope this negotiation–whenever it occurs–is funny to watch.
Morgan, too, came off well in this episode. He’s a very supportive friend to Mindy, cooking Thanksgiving dinner at Gwen’s on Mindy’s behalf and reassuring Mindy that any man should want to be exclusive with her. When he said he would tie her up in his basement to keep her exclusive with him, I was relieved to see him correct himself and realize he’d gone too far. When his character was introduced, I was concerned that his criminal background and gender would make him a creepy and decidedly unfunny OBGYN nurse, and that sort of comment goes in the creepy direction. On the whole, though, his character has been kind and goofy rather than scary, so I think I can handle him making an occasional inappropriate comment.
Now that Mindy’s exclusivity with Josh is declared, I look forward to seeing more of them together, especially if it brings back last week’s humor.