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The Mindy Project Recap: Piano Man

THE MINDY PROJECT: Mindy (Mindy Kaling, second from L) brings Adam (guest star Josh Meyers, L) as a date to Danny (Chris Messina, R) and Alex's (guest star Kelen Coleman, second from R) dinner party in the all-new "Pretty Man" episode of THE MINDY PROJECT airing Thursday, April 4 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jordin Althaus/FOX

It’s true, the second best part of living in New York is knowing that Beyoncé and Jay-Z are sharing our weather. I think the first best part is having bodegas that are open all night, but Mindy thinks it’s the nightlife. Which maybe is kinda the same thing? Hmpf, I miss the Cool Minister from Tuesday night.

This episode, which seemed to be once again out of sequence as the Mindy folks figure out how to make this show awesome instead of merely decent, had Mindy dating a male prostitute, which made me wonder: Will we ever get tired of her going on dates every week? It’s annoying that I’d say that, since I’ve been advocating for more of her rom-com send-ups. And this was clearly one of those, a role-reversing take on Pretty Woman. If nothing else, we did get a Zoolander-y, douchey version of Seth Meyers (yes, I know it's his little brother) playing the "pretty man," which might be worth the price of admission. So to speak.

If nothing else, "Pretty Man" was adept at dashing Mindy’s rom-com hopes, as so many men in her life are. He explained why he thought she knew he was a prostitute: “You came to the bar alone. You paid for every drink.” And he would have none of her Pretty Woman arguments against his flagrant embrace of kissing: “I’m actually one of the best mouth guys in the city.” Gender reversal shouldn’t still be this hilariously revealing of our underlying assumptions, and yet it is.

We were also reminded in this episode that Danny was dating Alex, which was a holdover from Mindy’s birthday episode. This show has felt more like Lost, with its character switches and plot revivals, than perhaps it intended to. In another flashback, we recalled that Mindy once dated, or at least hooked up with, that midwife guy, who returned briefly to give Danny his misdelivered Yankee Candle Co. package. Also, for some reason there was a discussion about theater tickets Mindy had, and I feared we had gotten lost in the weeds — or maybe on that separate island where the Others kept the cages on Lost.

But mainly the point was that Danny and Alex were going to have a dinner party together, which they had been trying to keep a secret from everyone at the office. Danny turned down Mindy’s theater tickets by lying and saying they were going to Vermont because he was worried Mindy would “bring one of these guys that you date.” At least we were treated to this confusingly wonderful dialogue, ostensibly about Mindy and the Midwife:

Danny: What do you do, do you go home and make fun of my piano-playing?
Mindy:
Why would that come up?
Danny:
It comes up … My piano-playing sucks. I don’t like it. And that’s why you’re not invited.

Naturally, Adam the Prostitute showed up at Mindy’s workplace demanding his payment, and Mindy took him to the ATM with her to get it. Next thing we knew, Mindy was having coffee with him and going to his apartment, where he lives with a taxi driver and plays his original songs on his little Casio keyboard. Moved, Mindy vowed to help him, because he “live[s] across a curtain from a guy.” She took him to get new clothes, which, as informed by Pretty Woman, she thought would be “more of a scene.”

As Mindy’s date at Danny’s party, Adam tried to claim he had money from his family railroad business … “north to south, east to west.” As Danny said, “So, all the major directions.” He did wow the party crowd with his piano rendition of Norah Jones’s “Come Away With Me,” though Danny was not impressed with Mindy’s vamping on top of the piano. (“Dude, get off the piano.”) Danny and Adam even jammed together on Beethoven!

We got a scene crackling with sexual tension between Mindy and Danny in Danny’s master bathroom, where Mindy apologized to him for not telling him about her affair with the Midwife. “He treated you badly?” Danny said, a bit closer to Mindy than he needed to be. “He’s an idiot for treating you badly.” In of course totally unrelated news, Mindy told Alex that Danny has an ex-wife, and Alex didn’t know. (Mindy did try to play it off, a little, as her own mistake: “Who is it that was married? President Obama was married.”) Also in totally unrelated news, Mindy’s prostitute was revealed to the whole party after he sang a terrible original song. (Sample lyric: “You got yellow taxis to drive you around … What city am I talking about? … After 9/11 … ”)

Humbled by the poor reception to his song, he decided to embrace who he was. “I really like being a prostitute,” he said, noting that he gets paid to have sex with women. Said Mindy, “Don’t gesture to me like that. It’s misleading.” And thus we proved that not every Mindy Project episode that references romantic comedies is as brilliant as the When Harry Met Sally … episodes. But this one was entertaining enough.

After Adam left and Danny called him a prostitute (Mindy: “Alleged prostitute — look at the Constitution for once in your life”), Alex and Danny broke up. We may or may not be getting closer to a Danny-Mindy liaison, but I, for one, am hoping it takes a while. As much as I like the idea of them together, the wait is half the fun in rom-coms.

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

Photo: Jordin Althaus/FOX