Between the recent romantic traumas of How I Met Your Mother and New Girl — not to mention The Good Wife — I feel so soothed seeing Mindy and Danny kissing in the opening scene of this week’s first two Mindy Project episodes. Of course, particularly given those other television events, I immediately start getting nervous about Mindy and Danny’s future. Will they get married and divorced in the same episode? Will one of them die? Will they just randomly and callously decide to break up in a few episodes with no regard for our feelings? Mindy has already been renewed for next season, which alternately calms me — great, we have time for their relationship to develop — and alarms me — oh, no, we have time for them to break up.
My only option is to live in the present and enjoy what we have here, which, thankfully, is two of Mindy’s best installments ever: a full hour of what has become this show’s unique, signature blend of romance and comedy. All the rom-com tropes are here, with just enough of a twist — along with Mindy and Danny’s off-the-charts sexual and comedic chemistry. They tease us just enough with the prospect of dissolving back into “just friends” with Danny saying, after kissing Mindy on the plane, that he’ll count to three and if she doesn’t kiss him back, he’ll return to his seat and pretend it never happened. He gets to three and nothing happens, but then he throws in a “four” and she attacks him.
This immediately sets up one of Mindy’s specialties, an awkward sex scene that skewers a scenario usually presented as hot — she’s taken down shower sex, sexting, and video chats, so naturally, the Mile High Club is next. There’s a wonderfully weird mid-makeout debate over who will be the dominant one in this relationship. (Mindy: “I’m the boss now.” Danny: “No, I don’t like it, I’m the boss.”) Mindy, apparently not convinced yet, pins him against the sink. (Danny: “How is this beneficial to anyone?”) They finish without having sex, but with Danny’s arm got stuck in the trash receptacle and Mindy’s hair flushed down the toilet.
“You Gotta Read the Room”
They discuss trying again as they arrive back home at Mindy’s apartment, but Cliff is there with a Mariachi band playing “In Your Eyes” as a grand gesture to get her back. It’s a funny gag and a rom-com reference twofer: a mariachi band like the scene in the restaurant in Jerry Maguire, and “In Your Eyes” from Say Anything. Morgan’s there for no reason, which sums up most of his appearances in the show (in a good way), directing action as needed. As Cliff and Mindy struggle to hear each other over the startlingly annoying cast the song takes when played by horns, he scolds the band, “Guys, you gotta read the room.”
Soon Mindy and Cliff are awkwardly whisked into her apartment while Morgan, Danny, and the mariachis leave. Cliff is thrilled that they’re back together, as he loved the letter Mindy sent him — which, of course, was actually written by Danny pre-kiss. “I wrote the crap out of that letter,” Mindy lies, “real romantic-like.” Incidentally, I love the detail that Mindy sucks at writing — we know she’s smart because she’s a doctor, but that doesn’t mean she has to be great at everything. In any case, she tries to break up with him, but he takes it as a joke and then leaves thinking they’re still together.
At the office, Mindy attacks Danny in his office, “horny for kisses.” But when Danny hears that she didn’t officially break up with Cliff yet, he says he can’t make out with her: “I’m so Catholic I don’t even trust this new pope.” Mindy counters, “I’m Hindu and we can do basically anything.” (Another of the show’s special touches: everyday, casual, sorta mixed-up acknowledgements of characters’ spiritual beliefs.) Mindy will not give up: “Why are your lips so scrumptious? And those eyelashes, they’re just so long, you look like a pony.” But Danny will not back down. It’s too hard for her to break up with guys, she says, so she’ll have to just get Cliff to dump her.
This sets off a How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days bit wherein Mindy lets Cliff walk in on her sitting on the toilet, tells him she’s on the phone with her psychic, and generally acts crazy. This goes on for just a minute or two — the perfect amount of time — before Cliff gets a call telling him that his grandma has died. He’s devastated, so now Mindy still can’t break up with him, and is talked into staying overnight with him for comfort. A great, slightly taboo joke lies underneath this plotline: that it’s ridiculous for an adult to be bereft over losing a grandparent. Danny is upset and suspicious when Mindy explains the next day why she still hasn’t gotten rid of Cliff. He even threatens to “pretend the plane thing didn’t happen,” which once again makes me think, Here we go, already going from will-they to won’t-they. But Mindy handles it: “We’re not going to pretend the plane thing didn’t happen. We’re just going to wait a little longer, until his grandmother is dead and buried in the dirt.”
Danny goes to Cliff to check up on Mindy’s story, offering him a six-pack of Dr. Dan’s Funky Ale, which he brews himself in his guest bathroom. This only makes things worse, though, when Cliff tells him they spent the night together. Danny’s uptightness rears its head for what will surely not be the last time as he marches back to the office and demands Mindy show him on the nearby skeleton “what you did to Cliff last night.” What follows is a funny sight gag and a revelation that she “massaged his jeans.” “Was he in the jeans?” Danny asks.
Both Mindy and Danny show up to the funeral, presumably because Danny wants to keep an eye on her. Morgan shows up, too, because he’s Morgan. Cliff has asked Mindy to write the eulogy he’ll give — and though it’s a little far-fetched that he would deliver it without ever having read it over to himself, it’s funny. He introduces the deceased as “the woman we all knew as Gram, which is short for Grandma, which in itself is short for Grandmother.” He continues, “When an old person dies, it isn’t as tragic as someone taken from us too soon, like Anna Nicole Smith. But irregardless …” Here he pauses with a scolding, “mmm” — how can you not appreciate a good English usage joke? And finally: “To quote Kendrick Lamar in his song, ‘Expletive Don’t Kill My Vibe’ …”
Soon, Mindy and Danny are holding hands in the pew, then sneaking off to a candle-strewn corner to make out. What could possibly go wrong, right? Yes, they set the church on fire, Mindy finally breaks up with Cliff, and Cliff punches Danny.
“Four Hours of Our Most Subtle Work”
Now that we have that settled, a brief pause in tribute to Gram’s memory and to the very funny, if insignificant, B plot in this first half hour: Jeremy proposes the practice make a pitch for a ballet company’s business. (Because the ballerinas all have to go to the same gynecologist? Is this a real thing?) Jeremy’s back in full Jeremy form, saying that he’ll make the pitch because “I’m obviously the cultured one, plus I own a cape.” He’ll need a second, but Mindy’s banned from Lincoln Center “because apparently there is a three-strikes policy when it comes to falling in the fountain.” It’s determined that Peter does not have a plotline yet, so he’ll do the honors. Of course, he hates ballet, but he’ll do his best to pretend. (Again: What could possibly go wrong?) He throws some ballet words into the pitch, prompting the head ballerina lady (or whatever) to say, “I didn’t expect such a love of ballet from a man who burped so much in the waiting room.” She invites him to watch rehearsal, in which they’ll be doing four hours of their most subtle work. He voices so many of our feelings when he says, “What a perfect amount of time for a wordless classical dance performance.” Naturally, he loses the account when he breaks down in the middle of rehearsal, waiting endlessly for the ballerina to cross the stage to get to her lover and end the piece.
“Just Graze It”
In the night’s second episode, we find our young lovers making out yet again. (Which is fine, because I could watch them make out all day.) But Mindy says she wants to take things slow. Danny shakes up the standard plotline — every decent guy knows you have to respect these kinds of requests — by arguing the point. He even goes so far as to claim that thousands of women across New York would love the opportunity to sleep with him. He could call any of the women on his phone to prove it! This leads to him actually doing this, which leads to a series of worse and worse responses, from a woman who doesn’t remember him, to a woman who’s breast-feeding her son, to “Connie’s dead? I’m so sorry. What are you up to right now?” And finally, we end with a prostitute whose rates have gone up.
Staying chaste gets a little easier when Danny comes down with meningitis and must be hospitalized. He’s still begging for sex-related activity even then: “Just graze it.” But wait! Mindy has “something better. Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s my favorite book. Whenever I’m sick, I read it, and it makes me feel better.” Strangely enough, this prospect does not appeal to Danny. No matter, Mindy has to run after getting an urgent text from Peter.
Turns out that as he was catching up on his internet porn at lunch, he ran across a video of our heroine on Sploderzz.com, featuring an amazing combination of her in a Girl Scout uniform, her dentist ex played by Bill Hader, and distinctive trumpet music from her neighbor that prompted “a very spirited debate in the comments section.” Peter, suddenly able to put his extensive porn knowledge to good use, agrees to help Mindy end her involuntary porn career.
First up, a visit to the ex, who admits he lent the video to his brother when he got divorced. Feeling protective of his own budding, parallel relationship with his amazingly dead-faced dental assistant, he agrees to hand over the original copy to Mindy. He will drop it off at her office while she and Peter head to the Sploderzz office to get them to take the video off the web.
So there they are, sitting with the creative minds responsible for, according to a poster on the wall, Downton Booty. Two of the most clean-cut, bland white guys you could imagine are explaining their family-owned business: “Integrity is the hallmark of Sploderzz and the Sploderzz family of websites.” “Grandpa believed you shouldn’t have to go to a museum to see a naked woman.” Alas, they just cannot take Mindy’s video down, as there is a growing market for Indian BBWs. “Brainy, birdlike, wife material?” Mindy asks. No, that’s Big, Beautiful Woman. (“Beautiful is in there,” Peter notes. “But also big,” one of the Sploderzz guys adds.) You see, as they further explain, “There aren’t that many Indian women in this country who have the kind of loose morals that would allow them to make this kind of video.” And, “If we took down a video every time someone didn’t like it, we wouldn’t be rich beyond our wildest dreams.”
Peter saves the day, however, by happening to mention that he went to Dartmouth. They did, too! Finally, they agree to take down Mindy’s video for their fellow alum. They also offer Mindy $300,000 to star in another video, which she considers before Peter drags her off.
“Can You Do the Voices?”
Naturally, however, Danny sees the original copy of the video in the stack of papers Morgan brought to the hospital from the office. And given what we’ve already learned about his judginess and jealousy, we knew this would not go over well. “It was the 2000s,” Mindy explains when he confronts her about it. “You were kind of a loser if you didn’t have a sex tape.” The argument is cut short by Mindy fainting — she, too, has gotten meningitis. This plus Danny’s excessive concern about Mindy’s sex video clues Peter into the fact that they’re dating. Danny denies it, saying he’s only concerned about the video because of “the practice.”
Peter tries to smooth things over by bringing Bill Hader in to explain his relationship with Mindy to Danny, but this only makes things worse: “I think we did all the freaky sex stuff because we didn’t like spending time together.” Finally, he gives Danny a little talking to, telling him what Mindy went through to make sure he didn’t see the tape. “I think it’s because Mindy really respects the practice … and is maybe even a little in love with the practice …”
Aww. And if you think that’s cute, the final scene is overload (the good kind): Danny visits Mindy in her hospital room and asks to borrow her Bridget Jones. Then he climbs into bed with her and starts reading. “Can you do the voices?” she asks. Without a word, he launches in with a perfect British accent, and we fade out on them cuddling in bed with the book.
Please never break up, Mindy and Danny.