The Mindy Project Recap: The In-Law Project

Photo: Hulu
The Mindy Project
Episode Title
The Lahiris and the Castellanos
Editor’s Rating

Yay, Danny’s home! Stuff can start happening again! High-five to Jesus! (I strongly believe Nick Jonas and Danny Castellano should be friends.) Seriously, though, Danny wants to get married already and stop living in sin. To which Mindy replies, “Please. You’re like God’s favorite porno.” But obviously, she’s also into setting a date.

At dinner the next night, Annette says her preferred theme for the wedding is “very religious.” But the presence of both Mindy and Danny’s brothers — Rishi and Richie — foreshadows what is, of course, coming soon: the meeting of the families. (It also points out what I assume is the deliberate joke of their names that I never got before.) The quirks of their families and differences in culture is what makes for this episode’s great moments, starting with the nonchalant way Danny and his mother approach their own intense relationship. “You’re so good at this, Ma, maybe I should be marrying you,” Danny says as she weighs in on wedding plans. Ma’s friend Dot — another fascinating relationship — chimes in, “I always thought you’d make a great couple.”

Mindy is, of course, annoyed by Ma’s overbearingness, but then feels bad when she hears that Danny’s ex-wife, Christina, excluded Annette from her wedding planning. Mindy even goes so far as to agree to a terrible, sacklike, nunlike wedding dress to please Annette, even though she’s planning instead to wear a sparkly midriff-baring number, as modeled by Tamra. (“You know I get paid like a thousand dollars for this in Japan.”) Mindy also has other problems: Namely, Jody wants her to accompany him to Southern Legacy University, his alma mater, for one of their Later Baby presentations. She says she can’t go. “Yes, you can,” he replies. “It’s an integrated campus. At least it will be when you’re there.”

As if the excitement of Danny’s return weren’t enough for plot purposes, the Lahiris show up on a surprise visit. Please, please let them stick around for a while. We haven’t gotten nearly as much juice out of them as possible, given their amazing combination of Mindy-generating traits: self-involvement, a reasonable amount of wealth, intelligence, wisdom, and total lack of self-awareness. Danny wants to keep Ma away from them. “Oh my God,” Mindy says, “does your mother have a problem with beautiful people?” No, though she doesn’t really seem that racist either — she has more of a problem with all those Mindy-generating traits than anything else. Actually, she has two common mother-in-law problems: She doesn’t want to cede any parental power, and she’s jealous of everything they have that she doesn’t.

Naturally, Danny and Mindy forget to tell Annette not to show up for babysitting this week, and the meeting of their parents is quickly upon us. Danny can no longer keep his mother from attending the engagement party the Lahiris have planned. In an in-law exchange that has happened for as long as in-laws have existed, the Lahiris tell Annette not to worry about bringing anything; they will take care of everything. “I’m bringing something,” Annette growls. (“And it will be from both of us,” Dot adds.)

Danny and Mindy’s place is soon festooned with colorful decorations and strings of flowers. “It looks like a place where Indiana Jones would pop out of a basket,” Danny cracks. Annette is chagrined to find that she has not quite mastered the Indian dress code: “We’re not all wearing curtains?” But the cultural clashes are the least of everyone’s problems at this party.

Mindy’s main problem is that both Jody and Danny have decided to be super extra-sexist. Jody is insisting she go on this trip with him, which seems aggressive. Like, can’t he just go without her? Thus Danny finds out that Mindy is in business with Jody, which apparently he didn’t know before, and he’s decided to regard this as a “third job,” along with Mindy’s fertility clinic and her regular doctor stuff. Isn’t Later Baby really just an offshoot of the fertility clinic? I mean, I don’t understand when she has time for all of this either, but the “third job” thing seems unfairly dramatic.

Speaking of unfairly dramatic, this all leads to the stay-at-home-mom conversation that Danny and Mindy have been avoiding for this entire season. Danny is still insisting that Mindy stay home with Leo: “Don’t you want him to have family around always?” Thank goodness, Mindy finally, finally mentions the option that he can stay home if it’s so important to him. And her distress is palpable when she says, “Danny, I’m doing a good job. He is loved.” I’m super uncomfortable with how much this plotline is making me dislike Danny. I’m not saying that it’s wrong for the show to do this, but it’s pushing my limits.

Meanwhile, in the living room with the rest of the party, Mindy’s mom is regaling everyone with fun tales of her regional-theater stardom, while Annette tries to compete with a lame Sea World anecdote. (See, she and Dot thought it would be crowded when they went … but it wasn’t.) Mindy’s parents also announce that they’ll be paying for the wedding, and that it’ll be in Boston. (Collette: “I love Boston. They make the racism of the South seem quaint.”) Obviously this upsets Annette, since she’ll lose all control of the festivities from here on out.

Post-party, Annette and Mindy have a nice moment in which Mindy assures her that they won’t get married in Boston, and that Annette will always be her Ma. (Annette threatens to call Mindy’s mom immediately to gloat: “Guess what, Princess Jasmine, your daughter just called me Ma.”) And Annette surprisingly encourages Mindy to go on her business trip, even though she’s threatened not to vote for Hillary Clinton because Hillary should spend more time being a grandma. “You and Hillary are living the life I never got,” Ma says, giving me hope that she’ll knock some sense into her son.

Mindy does go on her business trip, apparently without telling Danny, which sort of makes me fear for the future of their relationship. Do these two tell each other anything anymore? Danny has a somewhat parallel conversation with Mindy’s dad, who says Mindy’s mom, Sonu, put her acting career on hold to stay at home, and now she resents it: “Once a week she yells at me, ‘You ruined my dreams!’ and throws a scalding tea bag at my face.” But Mindy, he says, is a better doctor than Sonu was an actor. So it’s even more important for her to pursue her career.

When we see Mindy and Jody presenting together at Southern Legacy University, it’s clear they’re better together than apart: They have a kind of smooth comedy routine going that’s super appealing. And Danny shows up in the audience to ask her to dinner, and presumably to make a grand “sorry” gesture. (Jody looks confused. “It’s Danny,” Mindy explains. We work with him.”) But Danny only gets that Later Baby is a good plan: “You can stay at home with Leo and do this on the weekend, like a hobby.” Then he goes even further and mentions having another kid, something else they clearly haven’t discussed yet.

Anyone else, like, really, really worried about Danny and Mindy’s future? Like, maybe even about to stop rooting for them to be together?