The Moth Chase

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

An unfulfilled birthday wish

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This episode supposedly depicts the birthday of Mindy, a successful young doctor who has numerous friends and mostly nice colleagues. The central force of the whole show is Mindy’s search for love, so we are supposed to believe that she would rather go on a blind date with a guy she met online than spend her birthday with her friends. Seriously? That’s a weird first date, and it suggests that Mindy is feeling a level of desperation for romance that the last episode, featuring a near miss with her childhood sweetheart, didn’t convey. In that story, Mindy initially wants to take semi-drastic measures to keep Sam from returning to Afghanistan, but the episode concludes with them both realizing that the places they are meant to be now are very far apart. However many days or weeks later we find Mindy and company in this latest episode, her desire to find a boyfriend above all else has returned. So if we believe that Mindy really would rather go on a blind date than have her friends throw her a surprise party, she’s looking desperate, and that’s not very much fun to watch.

Or maybe the show can’t make up its mind about what comes first for Mindy. After being disappointed that her blind date with a Topher Grace-type was a scam to get her to the surprise party, putting up with a weird guest list, and receiving presents that make her feel like a loser, Mindy flees her own party. As soon as she arrives at a chain restaurant solo, she meets a cute, friendly bartender. I assume this is going to be the payoff of the episode—Mindy will get her birthday wish after all. But instead of staying at the bar and chatting with him, she accepts an invitation to join a group of strangers—all women—also celebrating a birthday. What? Mindy, stay at the bar and talk to that guy!

But no, she can’t do that, because the show wants to keep Brendan, the midwife and former hook-up turned jerk, around. After learning that Danny has fallen down a manhole, Mindy meets up with her friends at the hospital. Since Morgan has been live-tweeting the evening, Brendan shows up to sort of apologize and give Mindy a sweet gift, a constellation named after the one she made up. She’s moved, and that stinks, because we know that guy’s no good. Is she so touched by Brendan’s gesture that she’ll jump back into bed with him? Probably so, otherwise the effort to rehabilitate his character is wasted. That will be a step backward for Mindy, who handled the disappointment of their initial relationship pretty well, especially on the heels of Josh-the-two-timer. I think the show needs to be more careful about keeping Mindy sympathetic, because this episode was uneven in that (and many other) respects.

-ES

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This episode tried to explore some rich subject matter, but just couldn’t quite bring it all together. I appreciate the theme of exploring our friendships – what we expect/want vs. what we really need from our friends. Mindy’s friends, co-workers, plumbers, and a guy she crashed her car into in the Hamptons all take the time to show up at her birthday party and celebrate her life. Morgan even goes so far as to create an online persona and set up a blind date so that she will really be surprised when she shows up at the party. Incidentally, kudos to the show writers for incorporating a catfishing based storyline and NOT making any lazy, played out Manti Teo jokes. While uncomfortable and possibly inappropriate, the birthday gifts from her friends were all well-intentioned – they were the result of listening to Mindy complain about aspects of her life and helping her make steps toward remedying them. She is too busy to cook, so Gwen gets her a cookbook about gourmet microwave cooking for one. Mindy complains about being lonely at night, so the weird guy from the office that the show is forcing on us gets her a shirtless Chris Evans body pillow (amusing, but not nearly as funny as James Franco’s Japanese body pillow obsession from 30 Rock). She laments never having time to go to the gym, so they all pitch in to get her an elliptical machine. Yes, with each gift there was an underlying critical element, but they weren’t trying to criticize her and Mindy chose to focus on the negative for each one.

Contrast that with the overly supportive and non-critical group of sorority sisters that Mindy meets at the restaurant. They tell Mindy exactly what she wants to hear which makes her feel great. This is not like the friendship we have seen throughout the show between Mindy, Gwen, and Alex, where their interactions with one another are more straightforward and honest. When Mindy drifts into this territory with the sorority sisters by suggesting that one woman’s stockbroker boyfriend is probably blowing off her birthday party to do coke with hookers she gets a few drinks thrown in her face. Mindy seemingly wants the non-stop supportive, “yes” friends but that’s not the kind of friend that she is to others and ultimately probably isn’t the kind of friend that she needs. I think this will be especially important for her now that Brendan might be reappearing. By the way, naming a star/constellation after someone is kind of a scam, which I found pretty consistent with his character. Hopefully Mindy realizes the value of having a friend like Maggie who is willing to tell her that she acted like a spoiled brat.

As for the rest of the show, they are still struggling with what to do with the supporting cast and this week Danny was drug down with the rest of them. Are we really supposed to believe that this successful doctor who was once married and later dated Allison Williams’ marine biologist character can’t hit on Alex? It was uncomfortable and came across as the show beating you over the head that Danny is the nice guy who can’t catch a break and Jeremy is the womanizing jerk. Perhaps this is a device to setup sympathy for Danny and make the audience want him to be with Mindy even more. And I guess they needed someone to bring Mindy to her senses, but why did Beverly have to resurface. Their attempt to garner sympathy for her by revealing that she works another job, sleeps in someone’s car, and drinks 40s of malt liquor in brown paper bags just doesn’t overcome how awful her character has been in every other episode of the show. The damage is done with that one, it’s time to move on.

-JG

Written by emstaley

March 20, 2013 at 8:56 am

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