I’ll see you in the temple of doom
This week The Mindy Project provides a few more interesting suggestions about how to keep your love life exciting. Whereas the last episode introduced us to the arousing power of corn chips and vodka, this week we learn about bedroom props – a Ronald Reagan mask, frying pan, stuffed bear, and kitchen knife. I liked the way this episode starts with Mindy and Brendan together. The way things were left last week I was a little concerned that we were going to get a drawn out “when will they hookup” storyline. The awkwardness between their casual relationship continued, and it was still quite funny to watch. Unfortunately, as the episode continues Mindy is unable to separate her feelings from hooking up. When she runs into him at the movies on a date with another woman she gets jealous and seemingly closes the door on any future prospects for the two of them maintaining their fling. Participation in the hook-up culture seemed a little off for Mindy’s character given her obsession with romantic comedies and happily ever after endings. In the end it wasn’t really a surprise that Mindy became too attached. She wants the “watching Netflix together in sweats” with someone so badly that she is willing to create that situation for herself through self-deception. Just because someone with an aversion to aspartame keeps Diet Cokes for you in the fridge doesn’t mean you are girlfriend material.
Mindy moved quickly from this failed hookup to set the stage for another opportunity to go all in on a budding relationship with Jamie (BJ Novak), the guy who is a little too close with his female “best friend.” I always enjoyed the Kelly-Ryan dynamics on The Office, so I’m interested to see these two play off each other in future episodes. Though, with this show’s record of abruptly ending relationships that have great comedic interplay, we should enjoy BJ Novak being on the show while it lasts because he may not be around in two weeks. As for the midwife, I’m sure this isn’t the last that we’ll see of Brendan, and their fling should provide some fun resentment and awkwardness in future interactions.
Mindy and Brendan’s tryst wasn’t the only relationship to fall apart this week – Eyepatch decided to break things off with Danny, which is just a total disaster. First we lose Josh, and now Jillian… come on! I loved the fact that despite her shedding the eyepatch this week, everyone still referred to her as such – even Danny. Who would of thought eyepatch jokes could remain funny for two weeks? Their inevitable breakup was set up from the beginning of this episode by Danny being even more insensitive than usual, and Jillian eventually calling him out on it. Yes, Danny is a jerk. Of course, we know he thinks that the Danny Castellano way of doing things is the only right way. It’s just a shame that in the end Allison Williams’s character probably won’t amount to anything more than a plot device to get Danny to have some self-realization that eventually prepares him to have a meaningful relationship with Mindy. I’m already bored and disappointed just thinking about that outcome. For a show that tries to turn the traditional romantic comedy storyline on its head, it feels like this is inevitably moving in a very formulaic direction. I would much rather see these characters developed in parallel and have their own stories – Danny with Jillian and Mindy with Dennis Josh Brendan Jamie. While I certainly find Mindy and Danny’s witty banter funny, so far their respective significant others have really brought out the best in each of their characters and provide them with better fodder to actually banter about. This show really cycles through supporting characters – just about the time someone really grows on you, they get shipped off! Farewell Eyepatch – you were taken from us way too soon!!!
I agree that it was a shame to see Eyepatch go. I feel differently about Danny’s jerk status though. As the season has unfolded, he’s become less rude and more sympathetic, sometimes even doing nice things like comforting Mindy after she learned she was the other woman in Josh’s life. His reputation as a jerk persists, and I’m wondering if that’s to keep the viewer from waiting impatiently for him to get together with Mindy. Maybe Danny really was a jerk to Eyepatch, but that’s something we were told rather than shown. Sure, in the last episode, ditching her on the subway and pretending to have a work emergency to avoid her friend’s Golden Girls play was mean, but she promptly diagnosed that he was uncomfortable with their plans and forgave him. In this episode, his interest in eating a sandwich rather than talking at a cocktail party was weird but not really jerk behavior. All this to say: I’m not convinced he’s a jerk, just as I’m not convinced that Mindy’s a mess. Now that I’ve said that, he’ll probably behave terribly in the next episode.
The Mindy-related storylines offered a sometimes-funny take on the old When Harry Met Sally question: Can men and women be just friends, or does sex always get in the way? Mindy’s two love interests (well, she’s interested even if they’re not) came at the issue from two sides. In the case of attempting to casually hook up with Brendan, we see that Mindy’s emotional investment rules out a purely sexual relationship. In the case of Jamie, we see both Mindy’s disinterest in being just friends, because she wants to focus her scarce free time on romantic relationships, and Mindy’s suspicion that Jamie and his female best friend Lucy are really just friends. Her concern appears justified when, during her first date with Jamie, he has a long phone call with Lucy to thank her for sending over a bottle of wine and to let her know how the date is going. At the end of the episode, Mindy brings up the Lucy issue with Jamie, and he admits that other women have thought it was a problem. So either Jamie and Lucy really are Harry and Sally, destined to be together despite their protests that they’re just friends, or they really are best friends. If it’s the latter, then the answer to whether men and women can be just friends is yes–but not if they want other people to be involved with them romantically. No doubt Lucy’s closeness to Jamie is going to be more than Mindy can bear.
For now, I’ll enjoy seeing Jamie on the show, mostly because he’s a Latin professor, and I have a nerdy appreciation for his academic jokes.