Everything always comes together — the world, the universe — the stars always align, and fairy tales seem real when The Mindy Project returns to its homage-to-romantic-comedy roots. (Its title, “You’ve Got Sext,” is obviously a direct reference to one of Mindy Kaling’s favorite rom-coms, You’ve Got Mail.) This week represents another step toward Glenn Howerton’s heretofore confusingly idle lawyer character, Cliff, becoming a major love interest for Mindy, and it marks the always-welcome return of Ellie Kemper as Mindy’s ex’s ex Heather — and now, the third side of a love triangle with Mindy yet again. All great news.
This episode also gives us some of Mindy’s most feminist jibes. My second-favorite comes from Mindy to Morgan: “I need you to stop using your ability to have sex with me as a barometer for how I’m dressed.” (Oh, Mindy, can you please deliver that message to the rest of the world on behalf of all women? Thanks.) My favorite comes from Morgan to Mindy: “Feminism nowadays, it’s all about reminding women that they have to be hot, too. It’s like that book Lean In.” (Morgan, can you let the media know that they think the way you do, and that this is not a good sign? Thanks.)
Things really heat up, though, when Mindy and Morgan encounter Cliff in the elevator with his date who is, as she says, “How you say? An ass model?” Mindy soon thereafter realizes she’s lost her purse at the hospital, and that includes her phone and keys — so, naturally, she’ll have to stay at Danny’s place for the night, sans technology. Peter later discovers her purse in the break room as he hangs with Morgan, just as Cliff is texting her to ask how her delivery went that evening. The boys play Cyrano and try to woo Cliff on Mindy’s behalf, and we’re off to the races when Cliff texts “Mindy,” “Your competence is a double-edged sword,” and Peter cackles, “This dude is horned up.” If I were single, I’d be very tempted to enlist my male friends to text on my behalf with potential dates after watching this episode. Even better, the guys are so totally, adorably proud of themselves for, essentially, knowing how to seduce a guy just like them.
Meanwhile, Mindy is confessing to Danny that she likes someone at work, but it’s someone she fights with all the time, and somehow I actually think in the moment that he thinks she means she has a crush on Peter. (Except, obviously, duh, after I thought about it a second, who cares about Peter? Danny thinks her crush is on Danny!) When they arrive back at his place, they run into a neighbor with whom he used to hook up, and he begs Mindy to pretend to be his date. Classic, cliché move? Sure. But don’t you always love that move when it’s people you want to end up together? And don’t you always wish you could use this on a crush of your own?
Mindy, as she is wont to, goes a few steps too far and “reveals” to the neighbor that they’re also engaged and expecting a child, a boy, though “It’s too early to tell people.” The engagement ring, however, “was a blood diamond, and we had to give it back to Africa.” Mindy’s name? Oh, that’s an easy one: It’s Chloe Silverado, which is only slightly less suspect than her name being Beyoncé Pad Thai. Whatever her name, there’s no doubt she and Danny are adorable in a domestic setting together, reading in pajamas on the sofa. I haven’t tired one bit of their comfortable sexual tension. Nature Channel in bed together? Yes, that is oddly sexy! Theirs is such a relatable relationship: The friends-bordering-on-more situation may or may not ultimately deliver lifelong romance in real life, but damn if it isn’t all-consuming, and very hot, when it’s in the offing. I mean, she’s wearing his Columbia sweatshirt and plaid pajama pants? Does it get any more charged than that? And that “fake” kiss on her head? Swoon.
Okay, less sexy that she farted, spilled red wine on his sofa cushion, turned it over, got chocolate syrup on it, wrapped it up in blankets, and thought he’d blame it on his maid. But at least she confessed.
In other satisfying-use-of-cliché news, Cliff texts “What are you wearing?” It’s fun, incidentally, to see Mindy tackle sex head-on, at least for a sort of goofy-sweet network sitcom, but still so differently from her friend Lena Dunham’s take on sex in Girls. (Check out Dunham’s chatty recent interview with Kaling here.) Mindy’s approach may not look as “artsy,” and may not even be as groundbreaking, but Kaling (who wrote this particular episode) has her own wonderfully twisty approach. To wit …
Cliff’s answer to “What are you wearing?”: A sweater and sweatpants.
“Mindy’s” answer to his counter-query: A tasteful cardigan, corduroy slacks, and a breast-cancer-awareness pin. And no panties.
Cliff’s response: I’m coming over.
Translation: Men (who wrote in Mindy’s stead, may I remind you) are much simpler creatures than women often make them out to be when engaged with such magazine-encouraged activities as “sexting.” Other translation: Morgan and Peter use the word “slacks,” which is amazing.
In another slightly far-fetched but still satisfying sequence, Morgan and Peter throw a party at Mindy’s place — remember, they do have her keys and phone, the only real required ingredients for a party — to cover up for the fact that she’s not there when Cliff arrives. As they explain to Ellie Kemper as she passes by, “She wouldn’t miss her annual Veterans’ Day party!”
Back at Danny’s place, a surprise visit from his ex-lover and neighbor Amy threatens Mindy and Danny’s pretend relationship as she reveals how he strung her along and gave her a key to his place before ignoring her. “Thank you for your honesty,” Mindy concludes. “But I think I’m going to stick with Danny. Like Hillary, or Huma, or briefly Maria Shriver before she was like, ‘Wait, why am I doing this? I’m a rich woman.’” We get some insight on Danny here, and so does Mindy: “Hey, buddy, guess what? There is a sociopath here, and it’s not Amy. You do not make pancakes for someone who is just a hookup. I’ve been told this by like ten guys.” We also get some insight on Mindy and Danny as a “couple,” thanks to Amy: “Danny never looked at me like that, and clearly you are very pregnant.”
In the short-term bad-news department, Heather and Cliff hit it off at “Mindy’s” “Party” after Cliff discovers Mindy isn’t there. Naturally, they bond over their professions. She’s a tooth whitener, and, as she says, “We’re both just searching for what’s underneath the film of lies.” There may still be hope — after all, before leaving with Heather, he tells “Mindy” that “the most exciting text I got from you all night was the first one.”
More important, as Danny makes breakfast for Mindy the next morning, she reveals to him that the guy she has a crush on is Cliff, not — oh, right, this is what Danny thought, and hoped — him. There’s not enough “aww” to go around here.