The Mindy Project brings me joy in ways few other shows ever have, and I love it deeply even when I don’t love everything about it. I thought for sure Mindy’s pregnancy was a fake-out, but now that it appears to be a real thing the show’s attempting, I’m filled with dread. As much as I adore Mindy Lahiri and Danny Castellano, I really do not want to watch these two raise a kid. They’re cartoonish maniacs. I’d be afraid to let them hold a baby.
I know, I know: They’re doctors! They know things! But they’re also two gynecologists with an unplanned pregnancy, so they’re clearly not using those doctoring skills 24/7. Comedies deploy the “good at work/terrible at life” model a lot, but given the overlap between work and life for all the characters on this show, it’s unclear which category Little Mindy would fall into. Would she be cared for by the Mindy who snags prestigious fellowships? Or by the one who was this close to working for a sexy drug dealer after a four-second conversation?
The struggle here is that I really do want to see Mindy Lahiri pregnant. Think about how much she loves celebrity culture and how many hideous pregnancy-related tabloid magazine covers there are; this is a match made in gossip-reference heaven. I’m told, however, that pregnancy generally leads to having a baby, and the hard truth is that babies aren’t funny. People find their own babies funny all the time, and I’ve seen enough America’s Funniest Home Video segments to know sometimes they generate humorous noises and whatnot. But they are not sitcom funny. Every single plot about Pam’s pregnancy and Jim and Pam’s child-rearing on The Office was terrible. Modern Family, a show about families, doesn’t know how to make baby-having funny, and it tried twice. Parks and Rec so wanted to avoid baby material they set the final season of the show in the future. It’s possible TMP has some magical formula for making a baby story line funny, and I sincerely hope that’s what happens, but it will be perhaps the first show ever to pull it off.
TMP already struggles with story lines for its non-Mindy and -Danny characters. Peter’s exit made little sense (I get why Adam Pally left, but that’s not how his character would go); Jeremy has still never had a good plot; and Tamra’s subplots all seem like they could belong to anyone. The only supporting character with any real juice is Morgan, who is dim, innocent, inappropriately nude, and aggressively loving — in other words, the show already has a baby, and everyone’s mean to him. What are they gonna do with another baby?
Mindy and Danny are callous. They can both be selfish and shortsighted; Mindy is ditzy, and Danny is short-tempered, and that’s what makes them funny and special. But those aren’t good traits for parents, even fictional ones on a comedy — especially on a show that relies on our affection for its characters. TMP works because we care about Mindy and Danny and Morgan (and Peter), and some people even care about Jeremy and Tamra, and some additional people maybe even care about Beverly. I don’t want to see these people neglect a baby, but their ability to actually care for an infant means they’d all have to do some growing up — and I don’t want that, either. Can’t everything just stay exactly how it is, forever? Life is very unfair here in TV-fan land.