The Mindy Project
We’ve reached cruising altitude with Danny and Mindy’s relationship now, and we’re settling in for the long haul. Like any relationship, things could get dicey now: The excitement of them getting together is over, and the chemistry, while still alive and well, just isn’t as urgent. The three-to-six-month window is what can make or break long-term prospects, and alas, what makes a good onscreen relationship doesn’t necessarily equate to what makes a good real-life commitment.
This week’s episode, to me, marks that first foray into regular, everyday couple problems. No more coming out as a couple, no more setting basic rules to negotiate work and home life, no more moms played by former sitcom stars to meet. (Well, we still have to meet Mindy’s parents, but for now, we’re holding steady.) I’ll go ahead and read too much into one of my favorite lines of the night, Morgan responding, Zen-koan-style, to Peter scraping the seeds off the office bagels: “It was an everything bagel; now it’s nothing.” I don’t want Danny and Mindy to go from everything to nothing. Let’s not scrape the seeds off too quickly … or something. In any case, so far, so good, but I’m watching nervously.
The everyday dilemma of this week: Mindy hasn’t been paying her taxes for the last six years, and the infraction could put the whole practice in trouble. (I guess they pay as freelancers, or individual proprietors, or some other technical term? I’m with Mindy; I would have thought it was being taken out of my weekly paycheck, too.) “You’re telling me you all pay your taxes?” she cries to her co-workers.
Turns out she’d asked a lawyer to handle this for her last year, and that lawyer is none other than ex-boyfriend Cliff. But he’s still hurting from their breakup, which happened because she cheated on him with Danny, which makes this whole thing kind of tricky now. So she does the Mindy thing and tells him she and Danny broke up because Danny cheated on her. Cliff is happy she feels comfortable telling him this. “So comfortable,” she says. “I actually just farted.” Also very Mindy.
One thing I can say: I appreciate that Mindy rarely goes to standard wells of relationship conflict. Last week, Mindy mentioned their theoretical future wedding, and that didn’t bug Danny in the slightest; no boring commitment-phobic guys here. This week, she came clean pretty quickly about telling Cliff they’d broken up instead of dragging the charade out, and Danny rolled with it instead of getting mad. He’s learning to love Mindy just the crazy way she is. Granted, she’s also willing to spend an evening watching him fold socks and watch JAG. (FYI, JAG is still available in syndication on such channels as INSP TV. Please check your local listings.) And she’s willing to dress up like Frenchie from Grease for him, though not Rizzo, which she finds “demeaning.” So it’s not like he’s without his quirks. As Danny says, “Go get ’em, JAG.”
Meanwhile, we’re still working out the love triangle among Peter, Lauren, and Jeremy, which I was sort of okay with the last few weeks but is wearing a touch thin. (Hopefully we’re done now?) That said, like so many Mindy story lines, it gives us great lines even when it doesn’t pay off. Peter: “I will have you know that Lauren and I have never been better. What happened with her and Jeremy, that was a crazy time. The leaves were changing, everyone was psyched about the new fall shows.” (This show loves a fall TV joke, huh? Last week’s wins, though: “Are you the King of Siam? You’re too good for an inside look at the fall lineup?”) Beverly: “It’s not even a real kiss if it’s above the belt.” And the underused-so-far Lauren: “Ethiopian is actually just baby food, anyway.” Truth. Delicious, delicious baby food you can eat with your hands.
I never stop dreaming of getting Jeremy out of the black hole that is his character just for reasons that seem beyond anyone’s control, so I hoped, a few times during this episode, that I saw an out for him at last. I like the actor, but the exercise just seems futile. First, when it seemed that Lauren was definitely dumping Peter for him, I thought that might prompt him to finally leave the practice to avoid romantic conflict at work. (Not that that’s worried anyone here before.) Then I thought he might get deported back to England due to Peter’s jealous tattling. But it does not appear he’s going anywhere, alas. Once again, an imperfect plotline yields great lines, though. Jeremy, on first hearing he may be deported: “I can’t go back to England. I don’t remember all the words.” Jeremy, explaining why he won’t be deported: “The INS lost interest when they found out I was rich and white.”
Still, there is no resisting the gravitational pull of Danny and Mindy’s relationship, so that’s where most of the action was. Both of them end up tying up pre-relationship loose ends with Cliff: Mindy goes on a “date” with him to go over her tax bill (“What, so PBS can just line Laura Linney’s pockets?”) and Danny finalizes his divorce. (Seriously, they don’t know any other lawyers?) Even the not-yet-divorced thing doesn’t faze Mindy the way it would a typical sitcom/rom-com heroine. Her main reaction: “All this time I thought I was your hot girlfriend, when I was really your sexy mistress?”
The Mindy writers did very little to make me miss Cliff, to the point where I could barely remember wanting Mindy to be with him. (They were romantic once, right?) I guess it’s sort of like when you run into an ex and wonder what you ever saw in him/her. In this case, he now says such charming things as, “You get waxed more than the Batmobile.” And when he later barters with Danny, agreeing to exchange legal services for Danny’s prized Yankee stadium seat, Cliff says he doesn’t want Mindy, he wants “something that’s had even more men on top of her.” Mindy can do humor about her own active sex life, but I’m not comfortable with her exes doing it. And at the end, Cliff actually tells Danny he’s going to torch the seat because he’s a Red Sox fan! Sure, he’s hurting from the breakup and double-cross, but that’s rough.
No matter: It all ends well for Danny and Mindy, of course. She can stop carting her stuff between home, work, and Danny’s place in the wheelie suitcase — anyone who has done the overnight-bag shuffle for an extended period of time knows how exhausting this can get — because he bought her the most beautiful little pink dresser in the world to hold her stuff in his apartment. It is exactly what Mindy would look like if she were a tiny dresser, and it is perfect. Here’s to hoping it holds her stuff ably, and they continue to stay together while holding our attention.