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The Mindy Project Recap: Midwives With Attitude

THE MINDY PROJECT: Mindy (Mindy Kaling, L), Danny (Chris Messina, C) and Jeremy (Ed Weeks, R)  discover a change in the office staff in the "Two to One" episode of THE MINDY PROJECT airing Tuesday, Dec. 4 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. 2012 Fox Broadcasting Co.

Okay, you guys, so new theory: The centrifugal force of Mindy is too great to resist. There is nothing except Mindy. Which is awesome, in the sense that this is called The Mindy Project. But it’s not, in the sense that there are a bunch of other characters running around this thing.

And it’s particularly not when Mindy is out of the office for the day, which made for the lamest episode to date for me. We’re eight in, it had to happen sooner or later, yes. But I am starting to think it’s just too hard to compete with Mindy’s spectacularness. Morgan comes close in weirdness, and I still love Danny when he’s with Mindy. But, man, I’m starting to not care about all these other people. Like, really not care. They’re too sane and normal, which, yay in real life, not so much in sitcom-land.

We started strong because Mindy was spending the night at the hospital, bantering with Doris the cleaning lady. (Maybe Doris can become a regular? Loved her.) Mindy, as usual, made it all about her own imagined indignation as Doris expressed sympathy for having to spend the night at work and not go home. “I’m not so lucky,” Doris added. “When I don’t go home my cat pees in my husband’s slippers.” Mindy replied: “Okay, Doris, I get it, you’re married. Good for you.”

Next, Dr. Shulman randomly retired from the practice, which had “Transition Episode” written all over it. Typical sitcom growing pains: Pruning extraneous supporting characters and hopefully making for more interesting dynamics in the future. For the record, it’s true: Danny, Jeremy, and Mindy running the practice as partners is inherently more interesting. It could even amp up Danny and Jeremy’s characters a bit. So at least that’s promising.

As usual, Mindy proceeded to be kick-ass at her job despite her personal … oddities, and continued to be the funniest person around by a mile. In this case, she did it in the same scene. “Lauren, please do not give me printouts from Web MD,” she told one very pregnant patient. “It’s like bringing a recipe to a restaurant and saying, ‘Here, cook this.’” She then completely disarmed Lauren’s insecurities by telling her how scary pregnancy was — but that she had nothing to worry about because her health was perfect. I cannot explain how much I want Mindy to be my gynecologist at this point.

The main conflict of this episode then emerged: The midwife practice one floor up was swooping in to take Dr. Shulman’s old clients. And Mindy had the day off to spend with her girlfriends, so she was MIA for most of the showdown. A funny concept — “Midwives with attitude,” as Morgan called them — though not as hilarious in practice as I’d hoped (probably because Mindy wasn’t around). Many of the jokes about holistic practice were ho-hum, though I loved Morgan’s “You want rocks? I’m going to a quarry after work. I’ll have rocks coming out of your frickin’ eyes.”

Things didn’t turn around until — you guessed it — Mindy came charging back to the office, feeling guilty for missing the action (and stung by her own patient’s defection). “Some weird half-doctors are trying to patient-jack me,” she told her friends as they tried to enjoy a sample sale. She requested a human changing room to get out of the top she was considering (“don’t judge my bra”). Then she charged back to the office, ready for some Jerry Maguire–style client-wrangling.

She, of course, delivered (in a way not unlike last week, when she gave her triumphant sex-ed speech at the high school, not that I’m complaining). Suddenly, in contrast to Mindy, even the midwife practitioners were funnier: “That gong was a gift from me to myself for a particularly rough life.” There was that strangely sexual vibe that seems to permeate so many of Mindy’s interactions: “I’m sure you’d love to educate me, all afternoon, just over and over, making me learn about midwifery.” (That last word is always pronounced midwiffery.) There was the midwife guy’s lame rejoinder: “We have never been to the Coachella Valley Musical Festival.” There was Mindy’s parting shot, “No, Diana, I’m holding onto this mallet.” There was the midwife guy’s bonus brushing away of Mindy’s eyelash and her, “Okay, that was kinda hot. But whatever. No more stealing patients.”

What I’m trying to say is that Mindy is really funny, and anyone else around her gets funnier instantly. Not sure about the rest of these folks just yet.

Oh, except for one: Josh. Is it just because we only ever see him with her, or is our little mini–Matt Damon–with-glasses really her match? Because I didn’t laugh more in this episode than I did when he showed up to visit her at the hospital in the end and saw the weird Indianapolis Jazz Fest Poster, and dropped a casual, “Indianapolis has a jazz fest? Gross.”

If you want to talk more Mindy, follow me on Twitter: @jmkarmstrong

Photo: Jordin Althaus/FOX