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The Mindy Project Recap: Sex and Candy

THE MINDY PROJECT: Jeremy (Ed Weeks, L) and Mindy (Mindy Kaling, R) discuss dating in the "Hooking Up is Hard" episode of THE MINDY PROJECT airing Tuesday, Jan. 22 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT)

The Mindy Project seems at least as confused about sexual mores as our nation is. And at least as confused about sexual mores as it is about its general direction as a show. So in that sense, at least we’re all on the same page.

This episode made all of this quite clear. Mindy said to Jeremy, without hesitation, that yes! She likes sex! Great, we thought. Progress made. Yes, she took a breather from her rather healthy sex life earlier this season once she met Josh and dipped into monogamy with him. Now that they’ve broken up, she’s back to desiring sex unapologetically, as any single lady should have every right to and as was a credit to her character, a fresh addition to the sitcom-woman pantheon.

But in the next scene, she was boldly declaring that this was a change of heart, this liking of sex, after spending years “looking for a life partner to go apple-picking with.” Now, it’s important that we allow women room to do both. A great many of us have spent a great many adult years both enjoying sex and looking for potential apple-picking partners. But the dichotomy this episode set up was disappointingly regressive.

Suddenly, Mindy was feigning ignorance as to how to have a casual hookup, channeling a prudish Liz Lemon. (“I’ve never not worn underwear. I wear underwear under my bathing suit.”) This, after Mindy’s refreshingly cavalier bedding of Jeremy in the early weeks of the show. Why the change in attitude? Why does this show get more typical and mainstream as it goes along? (I mean, I see the answer staring at me in that question, but are we really still this lame in network-TV land? Don’t we all watch Girls and Louie?) This episode evoked a bunch of other questions as well, most notabe: Will we ever even acknowledge that Josh happened? And: Are the Duplass Brothers’ midwives officially a major part of this show now? (I’m not sure I mind that part. But we’ll get to that later.) And is Mindy’s new friend Alex here to stay or not? She keeps popping in and out at a maddeningly fast rate.

It’s hard to answer many of these questions, but in the meantime, let’s look at both oddly chaste “dates” featured in this episode:

Danny and Eyepatch
Allison Williams was back as “Eyepatch,” the girl Danny met at the hospital. How odd to see a Girls cast member in such a buttoned-down episode about sex! Still, her encounter with Danny provided a few chuckles. Mindy offered Eyepatch her vision of what Danny’s apartment must be like: “In my mind, it’s like a smoky speakeasy where old men go to complain about technology.” And Eyepatch planned the date, an outing to the theater: “What they do is they take these classic episodes of Golden Girls and they recast all the roles with guys. It’s very sexual. There’s a high, high chance of nudity.” And, finally, Morgan’s contribution to the theater discussion, in the form of another glimpse at his prison stage career: “Back in Otisville, I was in a production of Death of a Salesman. I played Mom. Ironically, the guy who played Happy hung himself in his cell … Did I use ‘ironically’ correctly?”

But then Danny was intimidated by the level of interactivity and late-night carousing the date would require of him, so he faked an emergency (by pretending to get a message while on the subway? really?) and said he had to get to the hospital. See, at 38, he felt too old for her, but then she came there and they kissed and it was all okay.

The moral: We’re making progress with integrating the secondary plotlines, but they’re not quite perfect yet.

Mindy and Midwife
Mindy chose the midwife she hates as the perfect hookup target — someone to whom she is attracted but whom she doesn’t respect. This helped the ongoing midwife encounters of the last several episodes pay off a bit, plot-wise; and, hey, both midwife brothers are funny! Particularly Brendan, the midwife-target in question. From his sweater and drawstring pants to his sensitive rendition of “Landslide” on acoustic guitar, he is at least as fun a foil to Mindy as Danny is.

In a way, he’s a foil to Danny’s foiling. In comparison with Mindy, Danny is uptight, but in comparison with Brendan, Mindy is uptight. And like Danny, Brendan matches her line for line and allows breathing space for her unique delivery: “Why don’t I undress you? Yeah. You’re gonna look good.” This was infinitely funnier when she said it to him than it seems possible on paper. This is a good thing.

Alas, Morgan, oddly, crashed this scene of near-hookup by showing up with the other midwife brother. They all ate Twizzlers together, despite the poisonous corn syrup, and watched movies before Morgan really ruined the whole thing by having an asthma attack, which, of course, the Alpha Midwife, Brendan, helped fix with mind-body tricks.

Still, we got a nice, almost sexy, denouement in the elevator the next day between Mindy and Brendan. Mindy: “There is a small knife at your house. I brought it with me to stab you with it in case you tried to attack me. It is hidden discreetly in a woman’s glove.” Brendan: “We are going to have sex. Just so you know.” Mindy seemed happy about this, which bodes well.

Interestingly, we learned, while Mindy searched Morgan’s bag for an inhaler, that he’s reading Bossypants. Maybe Mindy needs to lay off the Tina Fey — as much as we love her — to remember how to let her character let a little loose again.

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

Photo: Jordin Althaus/FOX