Triathlon and trying too hard
After a couple of weeks off, The Mindy Project returned in fairly good shape. The team version of the triathlon that this episode features is a pretty good metaphor for the show: different participants/episodes have different strengths, but no one is the full package. Tonight’s episode offers an especially clear example of what I think is a strange problem that plagues this show: the storylines are silly, but the dialogue is funny. In other words, the writing is simultaneously quite good and quite bad.
Rather than featuring odd plots about rival offices competing in triathlons for carpal tunnel, I wish this show would just let itself be about what it’s about: relationships. When the writing is clever, as much of it was tonight, I think it’s okay for the context in which the characters wittily work out their love lives and friendships to be mundane. We saw moments of this with Mindy at the pizza truck and in pastor Casey’s church school class. This also might help avoid the proliferation of plots.
I appreciated seeing Mindy take seriously the possibility of religious commitments and conversion—seriously enough that she knows she shouldn’t convert to Christianity for the jewelry. And for the first time, I didn’t despise Casey. He can see that converting isn’t the right choice for Mindy and wants her to be herself. This was all pretty sweet, but poor Betsy got roped in to this story to give Mindy a bible study to visit. That felt like another instance of the show working out the ways in which and the degree to which its supporting characters (Betsy, Morgan, that other nurse whose name I can never remember, that intern whose name I can never remember, etc.) are weird. I think this episode was the first mention of Betsy being Christian, but that revelation goes in the “of course she is” category, since (1) the show always is clear that she’s somehow strange and (2) the only performance of her Christianity the episode shows us is that she has bible study with a biker gang (and it totally leaves us hanging on these guys, but presumably they’re really nice, and we’re supposed to learn not to judge them?!).
Since I’m sure the writers of the show are following my recommendations closely, let me reiterate: make this show have fewer characters and fewer outlandish plots. Pretty please.