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

No human has ever scored sad dog numbers before

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The Mindy Project was back after a State of the Union hiatus last week, and I fear that President Obama killed a little of the show’s momentum. There were a couple of laughs this week, but for the most part it was a weak episode. They open with Mindy and Danny watching her new taxi-cab public service announcements, where she dresses as Ralph from the Muppets and converses with a sock puppet about women’s health issues. This felt like a departure from what we’ve seen of Mindy so far in the series – even when she is doing silly things, she is very image conscious and maintains an air of professionalism (unless of course she’s had too much to drink). Does she think that in order for women in cabs to take her message to heart she needs a gimmick? It just didn’t seem like something the Mindy we have spent the last few months getting to know would actually do.

Regardless, she is embarrassed by the taxi-cab spots, but it turns out to be a blessing in disguise as the practice soon learns that they need to develop a media strategy to better compete with the upstairs midwives and their new marketing campaign. Incidentally, I found their commercial to be pretty funny – “…for eons, so existed have we…” and Maria Menounos’s endorsement of “as a woman, I’m made up of billions of cells and millions of feelings.” When Mindy’s taxi-cab PSA goes viral, she has the opportunity to parlay her newfound “P-score fame” into a health segment on the local news. P-score (pity-score) of course being how sorry the viewer feels for you and can’t look away. Mindy’s was equal to that of the dog saved from a roof during Hurricane Katrina, hence the “no human has ever scored sad dog numbers before.” Mindy is excited about the opportunity, but Danny is quick to inform her that she has a lot to learn about the local news game. Well, mostly he just tells her to look at the live camera and never say “vagina.”

When it’s finally showtime, Mindy gets called away to the hospital by a worrisome patient, and Danny must fill in for the health minute local news spot. Predictably, he botches it by saying vagina a few times, drenching his shirt with nervous sweats, fumbling a vulva, and looking at the wrong camera. It wasn’t a particularly creative or interesting storyline, and the only redeeming character development we got out of it in the end happened in the final minutes of the episode. Brendan the midwife is making fun of Danny for bombing on the news segment, and in a bit of a role reversal Mindy sticks up for Danny and navigates him through an embarrassing situation. This leads to them referring to one another by pet names “Min” and “Dan” as they walk down the hall toward their office. To return to the theme of “can men and women be friends” that you have referenced in previous weeks, I’m not sure if this casualization of their relationship signals a flirtatious start to something more than friends, or a turn toward them just being best buds. I’m still pulling for the latter.

Lastly, I can’t help but point out how utterly boring and distracting the scenes were with the return of the offensive old nurse. This would have been a fine, but unremarkable episode with the storyline I described above, but when they added in a side story that amounts to “old people don’t know how to use technology” I was borderline offended. I don’t watch this show (or TV in general for that matter) to hear the same old tired jokes, and this just felt like filler. If there is a demographic out there that The Mindy Project is trying to appeal to with this kind of humor, they’re probably already watching Everybody Loves Raymond reruns at 9:30pm on a Wednesday night. After a few good weeks in a row, I was a little disappointed.

-JG
****************
I agree that this was a disappointing episode. The return of the incompetent nurse as a receptionist, along with the reappearance of the intern Morgan once tackled (I think), added nothing to the show. Why anyone felt the cast needed more members after the other receptionist, Shauna, left is beyond me. The people behind The Mindy Project should focus on generating funny and/or interesting plotlines and dialogue for the main characters instead of getting distracted by minor characters. I watch the show every week, and I don’t even remember those characters’ names.

Maybe an episode with a better level of focus would have offered a more meaningful framing for the concept of a women’s health segment on the local news. Danny is right that “vagina” is–or at least was until recently–a taboo word, to the point that entire segments on the play “The Vagina Monologues” were produced without a single use of the word. I realize this is a half-hour comedy and not a PBS miniseries, but that hardly makes offering public education or social criticism out of bounds. Why not make the topic of “Mindy’s Minute” about something current, like the availability of pap smears and contraceptives through the Affordable Care Act? Surely good writers could introduce something more interesting than urinary tract infections and still find some good jokes.

You’re right that Mindy’s use of a costume and hand puppet felt inconsistent with the image-conscious character the show has been developing. It felt like a manufactured contrast to the glossy image of the midwives’ commercial instead of ringing true. The storyline that felt believable involved Mindy’s commitment to her difficult patient, as she showed once again that her priorities are in order: she’s a skilled doctor who cares about her patients, and that means her patients come before her fantasies about becoming a celebrity doctor.

-ES

Written by jwgoss

February 19, 2013 at 11:28 pm

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