The Moth Chase

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

I’ll tell you one thing that always lasts forever…herpes.

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This episode offers a more sustained reflection on a theme, that of impermanence/permanence, than other episodes have featured. The subject is explored in two related storylines involving Mindy. The first concerns Mindy’s 15-year-old neighbor Sophia, who Mindy still thinks of as a little girl she should take doll shopping, but who has grown into a teen interested in beginning a sexual relationship. The second concerns the future of Mindy’s relationship with Josh.

Reluctant to prescribe birth control for Sophia without vetting her boyfriend, Mindy insists on visiting the high school and questioning Henry about his future. When his answers fail to satisfy her, Mindy encourages Sophia to wait for a great guy like her own boyfriend Josh. Sophia retaliates by demanding the opportunity to question Josh, a situation in which she forces the issue of whether they, a sexually active couple, will be together forever. Of course, they have not yet discussed the matter themselves, and Mindy is upset to learn that Josh thinks he isn’t a forever kind of guy.

Upon turning to Gwen, as usual, for advice, Mindy learns that the experience of forever isn’t always romantic; for Gwen, it involves things like finding her husband’s toenail clippings scattered on the floor around the toilet. Reassured about the goodness, albeit likely transience, of both Sophia’s and her own relationship, Mindy returns to the high school to give her blessing–in the form of condoms, the on-campus distribution of which gets her sent to the principal’s office and nearly arrested.

Mindy’s interactions with the teens suggest her desire for a phase of life now past, as she covets their admiration and their slime (“Don’t overthink it.”), even as she criticizes their rude behavior and initially encourages them to thwart typical adolescent behavior by delaying sexual activity. At the end of the day, though, Mindy accepts that the teens will act their age. She just wants them to do it in ways that will avoid the truly forever-ness of herpes. This attitude made the episode into a nice PSA about giving adolescents access to contraceptives and the HPV vaccine–and Mindy’s business-savvy move of selling the vaccine via Groupon is a great and hilarious idea.

Fortunately, Mindy coming to terms with teens acting their age was matched by Mindy and Josh also acting in an age appropriate way by having a straightforward conversation about their future. Their scenes together remain the funniest of the show (such as Josh greeting Mindy with, “So the florist was closed, but I wanted to get you something girly, so I popped into the pharmacy and got you some of these travel sized deodorants.”), which makes me sad in advance for the inevitable dissolution of their relationship. Here’s hoping their laugh-generating conversations last a while longer.

-EMS

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I was really satisfied with this episode. It wasn’t a non-stop barrel of laughs, but it played on what I think is the show’s strength – taking a serious topic (or topics) from a funny slant. As you mentioned, I liked the way that they played the assumed impermanence of Sophia and Henry’s high school romance against Mindy and Josh’s relationship. It’s easy for Mindy to dismiss Sophia and Henry as foolish kids who naively believe their love will last forever, but she shares that same sentiment with Josh and can’t articulate why her feelings are any different or more sustainable. Adults shouldn’t get a free pass just because they’re older!

For me, Josh came out of the episode the real winner – at times he still seemed immature (seriously, what’s with all the energy drinks) but this was one of the first times I really thought we saw him be completely honest and sincere. He can’t make long term declarations about his relationship with Mindy because it’s still new (they only agreed to be exclusive last week!) and he doesn’t know where it’s going. He’s willing to acknowledge the possibility of “forever” but for him to carelessly declare that they will always be together after dating for a short time is no more mature or thoughtful than Sophia and Henry signing all their emails with “forever yours.” To that end, I thought this episode also made great use of Gwen as the married friend voice of reason who lets Mindy know that “forever” also involves struggles, compromise, frustrations, and patience. I’ve come around completely on Josh, and I full agree that I will be very sad to see him go when the writers decide to amp up the “will-they, won’t-they” narrative between Mindy and Danny (something we were reminded of this week when Sophia’s friend Ben alludes to their chemistry).

As for the other storyline this week – Yeesh! I’ve been hoping the show would take on serious topics, and here we go… Danny finds an anonymous note under his door lodging a sexual harassment complaint in the office – Morgan has been ogling the receptionist Shauna. Danny is incredibly nervous about the potential fallout in the office and calls them both in to sort out the matter. Morgan is very apologetic and claims it was unintentional, evidently Tookers men have a real problem with staring at beautiful things (and with gout). However, Shauna was unaware of his ogling and not responsible for the letter.  We later find out that Betsy wrote the note because of her own insecurities about beauty and attention. In an attempt to boost her confidence and console her Danny says everything she wants to hear, but all the things that can get him sued (“you’re definitely hot” and “you have a great face and legs of steel” – in short, she’s Jessica Rabbit).

For the record, sexual harassment is bad and not funny. But that being said, it was pretty funny to see Danny squirm like that – torn between wanting to do the right thing and support a friend/colleague who feels down, but also trying to avoid saying the wrong things that can (and maybe will) get him into legal trouble. Not being adept at walking that line leads to a classic compliment like “your whole form is… just… very good.” I’ve wondered over the last few weeks if the personal/professional wall that the show has been emphasizing with Danny was just to serve as a contrast to Mindy (presented as someone who let’s the two merge more) or if the writers would use it as a device to put Danny in situations that test his worldview. In this episode it created the kind of uncomfortably awkward and funny situation that I have been hoping for with this show. I don’t necessarily want to see a multi-episode arc about sexual harassment in their office, but finding ways to put Danny in awkward positions when his personal/professional divide is challenged seems like a comedic well they can keep going back to. Well played this week!

-JWG

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