The Mindy Project Recap: Groundhog Day

Mindy Kaling as Mindy. Photo: Vivian Zink/Hulu
The Mindy Project

The Mindy Project

Hot Mess Time Machine Season 5 Episode 8
Editor's Rating 4 stars

The Mindy Project is finally back, appropriately in time for Valentine’s Day — though in this episode, Mindy is more concerned with groundhogs than chocolate hearts.

To explain: Mindy awakens in the first scene suffering from period cramps and the discovery that she’s out of tampons. It’s already the worst day. (I curse my womanhood every time I have to slog to CVS to get more damn tampons.) She’s late for the Forceps Hygiene meeting, she has to deliver a baby for her least-favorite patients, and then she runs into Ben at the hospital. It’s officially the worst day.

But something feels a little strange about all this, and soon, as her alarm goes off to “Call Me Maybe” again, the conceit emerges: It’s a Groundhog Day! Mindy is stuck doing the same day over and over, à la Bill Murray in that classic Harold Ramis film. Every day, it’s “Call Me Maybe,” no tampons, and a morning news guy yapping about how “being single and over 30 can lead to adult acne.”

When Mindy explains this to Morgan, he’s unimpressed. He’d be far more skeptical he says, “If you were in a Freaky Friday or Shaggy Dog situation.” The first repeat through the day is awkward, with Mindy revealing she knows the baby’s name (Charlotte) before she’s told and telling Ben that seeing him is giving her déjà vu. “You’re having déjà vu?” he quips. “Are you about to kiss another dude?” Mindy must admit, “Solid burn.” The next run through the day, she does nothing but scream, and the following run, she does nothing but swear. Soon, she realizes she should be having more fun, which involves wearing a fur coat to the morning meeting, flashing everyone in the office, playing a lot of basketball, and bidding $1 million for lunch with Oscar Isaac. She reveals she’s been to every McDonald’s in Manhattan, beaten Candy Crush, and even gone to Brooklyn.

As if Mindy’s never seen Groundhog Day, it takes her a while to figure out that this is about patching up her relationship with Ben. Even after this revelation, it takes her several tries before she learns to approach him with honesty: She’s unsuccessful with attempts to lure him into hanging out by threatening suicide by pill (he can see the pills are candy), handcuffing herself to him (his magic skills get him out), and claiming to be dying (he walks out when he discovers she isn’t). The lesson, as Ben reveals during that walkout, is that she is tremendously self-centered. (What? Our little Mindy?) He’s off to visit his ex with their daughter and possibly try to rekindle their relationship.

The day repeats so much that even Morgan catches on before she can tell him during another iteration: “Are you doing a Groundhog Day?” he asks. “Because you finished a crossword puzzle, and I saw you dunk.” He helps her learn how to approach Ben more thoughtfully. She determines to become a better listener, and soon she’s hip to every detail of his life: He loves Star Trek: The Next Generation, his mother converted to Judaism. She learns to use a light saber and reads Batman comics. She shows up at the hospital dressed like Storm from X-Men. When Ben questions her newly discovered passion, she coolly explains, “I’m kinda low-key about my love of the Marvel universe.” She learns to make his mother’s chocolate-chip banana bread. (Ben marvels that his mother wouldn’t give that recipe away for a million bucks. “$35,000,” Mindy replies.) She reaches a point at which she can ably argue that Captain Kirk is better than Captain Picard, at which point Ben says he wishes he could stay with her instead of leaving to visit his ex.

Finally, Mindy believes, she is so close! “I let him eat his own yogurt, and I didn’t say anything anti-Semitic,” she brags to Morgan. She’s sure she’ll seal the deal the next repeated day … except it doesn’t come. She wakes to a full box of tampons and the same morning-show guy announcing “a major victory for civil rights at the Supreme Court.” Mindy’s response? “This is horrible. It’s Thursday?” When she calls on Morgan for support, he’s no happier — he called his grandma a slut, presuming the day would repeat and she wouldn’t remember it. Perhaps, they consider, the whole time it had been Ben repeating the day, not Mindy. “The universe sure does love white men,” Mindy says of this theory. “Oh, who am I kidding? So do I!”

But, of course, Ben shows up at her apartment wanting to try again. She did it after all, with the non-yogurt-eating and the non-anti-Semitism! Another victory for magical intervention into romance! And another clue that Ben may really be Mindy’s happily-ever-after. Though one imagines Hulu will have some bearing on that, if and when the streaming service comes to an agreement with Kaling about the show’s future.

The Mindy Project Recap: Groundhog Day