The Moth Chase

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

I tough love you

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The return of The Mindy Project after the holidays introduced Mindy’s younger brother Rishi, who shows up unexpectedly at her apartment. While Rishi initially tells Mindy he’s there to escape the boredom of their parents’ home in Massachusetts while he’s on winter break from Stanford, he soon reveals the truth: he’s dropping out of college to pursue a career as a rapper. Mindy loves and supports her brother (she pays his tuition), and though she agrees he’s a talented artist, she doesn’t support this wild choice to leave college.

I enjoyed this look at a sibling relationship and Mindy’s exploration of what it means to love her brother, from letting him crash at her place, to cutting him off in an act of tough love, to singing back-up for him at the last minute, despite the inappropriateness of the lyrics. It was interesting to see a successful, older sibling supporting a college-age sibling, and the disclosure of this arrangement made me wonder how Mindy got through Princeton and medical school. Perhaps their parents were able to pay for her education with the expectation that she would pay for Rishi’s, or maybe she just wants to help her brother. Moments like this offer a glimpse into the life of an immigrant family (though the problem of paying for school knows no bounds), with the children being the first born in the United States, and I hope the show pursues more windows into this sort of experience that is underrepresented on TV.

More to the point, if Mindy did put herself through school, that goes even further to undercut the sense the show still sometimes gives that she’s a mess. Sure, in this episode, Mindy experiences recurrent stress barfing, is still upset about her cheating ex-boyfriend, and has made some missteps with her New Year’s resolutions, like spending $800 on a grandpa suit. Stress barfing is pretty gross, and also a little funny, but I don’t think any of those issues makes Mindy a disaster. Even so, Rishi challenges her to name which aspect of her life he should emulate, and the best she can come up with, while stress barfing, is that people like her sense of style. That strikes me as unfair, since she’s got a good job, supportive friends, a nice home, and The Hunger Games checks. It seems like being a mess is really code for being single at a certain age.

That brings us back to stress barfing, which clearly should have been the title of the episode, and which provides the occasion for Mindy to visit Brendan, one of the midwives from the rival practice in their building. Of course, it’s not because the nausea is morning sickness, and she needs obstetrics care, it’s because she needs a hot stone massage, and that’s what this show thinks midwives do (see Season 1, Episode 8, “Two to One”). Though the stones don’t cure Mindy’s nausea, she does get good advice from Brendan about the importance of supporting her brother, even or especially when she thinks he’s foolishly pursuing a dream. No doubt more importantly for the show, that Brendan offers Mindy wisdom in her time of need makes it likely that he’ll become a romantic interest for her. If they do develop more of a relationship, I hope that leads to more conversations about midwifery, by which I mean the midwives schooling the doctors about their criticisms and caricatures of their practices.

Overall I thought the episode was pretty good and contained some funny writing, and I hope we don’t have to wait too long for another recurring character to assume Josh’s mantle as the funniest on the show.



I was glad to learn something new about Mindy in this episode and see her in a familial context. I too was struck by the fact that she is characterized as a “mess,” yet she is part owner of a medical practice and, as we learn in this episode, she is putting her brother through college. For me, this adds an interesting layer to Mindy that makes me really wonder about her obsession with her personal life and relationships. Starting with the pilot, we are led to believe that she envisions a fantasy, rom-com world where love comes magically and relationships are picture perfect; and as a result of this idealized worldview, the reality of relationships can never measure up and be satisfying for her. But as we learn more about Mindy and all the aspects of her life in which she is very grounded and realistic, I can’t help but wonder if her frustration and disappointment with her love life stem from the fact that it feels outside of her control. Her hard work and effort have translated into success as a doctor, business owner, and benefactor for her brother. But no amount of hard work or effort seems to materialize into a meaningful relationship, and for that reason she is viewed (by herself above all) as a “mess.”

I think you’re on to something in saying that being a mess might just be code for being single at a certain age, or even just being a certain age. It is an interesting insight into the mentality of 30-something life – if you have everything together in your professional life, chances are you feel lacking in your personal life. If you’ve got a strong relationship, maybe you feel vocationally adrift. If neither are working out, you have my sympathy… and if both are great – shut up, no one asked you. The point being, we tend to stress vomit about the aspect(s) of our lives that feel most lacking and characterize ourselves as a “mess” because of those shortcomings without celebrating our successes. I think the show is doing a nice job of depicting this through Mindy’s character, and I look forward to seeing how she handles it going forward.

A couple other things about this episode – there weren’t a ton of laughs, and I think you’re right about no one stepping up into the void left by Josh. I miss his back-and-forth with Mindy, and while Danny’s character has shown an ability to play that part earlier in the season they aren’t capitalizing on it right now. That being said, I can’t end this post without acknowledging the scene where Mindy encounters her brother in the apartment and immediately slips back into her Massachusetts accent. That was very funny, if only because it really hits close to home…


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