I’m going to ‘Pretty Woman’ him
This week we got a double shot of The Mindy Project and this second episode was actually a welcome addition. Once again, the show did a great job of tying together the two storylines and it made for a more coherent and focused episode. Likewise, they returned to some of the strengths of the show from earlier episodes that made this week a lot funnier. The opening has Mindy out alone at a bar when she locks eyes with a mysterious stranger across the room. Adam (played by Seth Myers’s older brother Josh Myers) approaches her in slow motion with a Zoolanderesque Blue Steel look that makes you wonder whether he’s going to hit on her or assassinate her. This guy is clearly Mindy’s type based on everything we’ve seen so far – well dressed, man pretty with feathered hair, and a little douchey. They really hit it off and things heat up when Adam invites himself back to her place. Of course, it turns out that Adam is a male prostitute and Mindy throws him out before things go too far. The next day he shows up at the clinic to get his money from their abbreviated tryst and Mindy recognizes an opportunity to “Pretty Woman” him and turn things around for this down-on-his-luck singer/songwriter/prostitute. I liked the way that this episode got back to something the show drew on a lot in the earlier episodes – Mindy experiencing the way romanticized movie stories actually play out in real life. The appeal and popularity of Pretty Woman has always baffled me – in part because the demographic that really seems to love the movie are young (not prostitute) women. Cast James Spader in the lead male role instead of Richard Gere and it would have been an incredibly creepy movie that more accurately reflects prostitution.
Mindy takes her made-over escort to a party that Danny and Alex (did we know that they were together) were throwing to show off her handiwork. It’s clear from the outset that Adam is uncomfortable lying to everyone about what he does for a living, which was a little unbelievable since his chosen work is illegal in New York City and you would assume he is forced to lie about it to everyone who isn’t a client (or his roommate Dikembe). Adam makes a very favorable impression on the partygoers with his singing and piano playing, but you know that this is all building to an uncomfortable cringe-worthy moment when everyone finds out that Mindy’s date is really just a man of the night. Creating funny moments out of awkward, hard to watch, and occasionally inappropriate situations was another early strength of the show that they have drifted away from recently, so it was nice to see them return to that concept in this episode. That moment finally comes when Adam starts to sing and play some of his original material and you quickly realize that his ineptitude at songwriting is why his dreams of making it in show business never materialized. Things took an unexpected turn for me though when Adam’s song completely flops and he becomes embarrassed in front of Mindy’s friends and co-workers. Instead of casting himself as someone forced into a life of prostitution by desperate circumstances, he embraces his profession. I am a sucker for people who figure out what they aspire to in life and set out to do what they earnestly love, so I found his rant a little heartwarming (okay mostly gross, but a little heartwarming).
That’s the good from this week – the bad is something that’s been building throughout the series and I am totally convinced of it now. This show is far too reliant upon guest stars and cameos to keep it afloat. Every episode introduces us to some knew character that will hang around for between 1-3 weeks and then get written out. I think the writers know that the show just isn’t working with the central cast – particularly the peripheral characters – and they compensate by throwing in one new character after another to see if anything takes. While these cameo characters can be interesting in small doses, they’ve just become too distracting. I am pretty bored by Jeremy, Betsy, Beverly, or Gwen’s characters and I’m still on the fence with Morgan, but I’m not sure if that’s because they are fundamentally uninteresting (which they very well may be) or if they show just hasn’t invested enough in the development of those characters to make me care. Instead of getting to know them, we get a new guest star thrown into the mix every week that will be gone a couple of episodes later. This doesn’t strike me as a particularly successful strategy and makes me doubtful about the long term potential for the show.