This week’s Mindy Project is not among the show’s strongest episodes. It is, like most weak links in a sitcom’s lifespan, a hollow imitation of Mindy at times. The lines are there, but the plot feels like it’s just going through the motions. That said, this happens to the best of them — and this week’s Mindy finds a savior in the presence of Rhea Pearlman as Ma.
We begin with Ma stepping in as temporary full-time nanny while Danny is away and Mindy is working. She’s as intrusive as you would imagine: Bugging Mindy in the shower. (“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before … actually, I’ve never seen it like that.”) Shrinking Mindy’s clothes in the dryer. (“Are you sure you didn’t get bigger?”) Laying guilt traps everywhere. (“Hey, you want an omelette?” When Mindy says yes: “Well, I wish I’d known that before I started making pancakes.”) Mindy is desperate to hire a nanny, and plans to smooth this blow by buying Annette and her friend Dot a ten-day cruise to Bermuda.
At work, Jeremy has called a big Gauze Meeting, at which he is explaining the benefits of thicker gauze when he is interrupted by his lady love, Whitney. She wants to grab lunch because her workday went to hell after “Greece decided not to be a country. They’re just going to sell yogurt.” Jeremy is so in love that he goes against all he holds dear — order and gauze — to take off in the middle of the day with her. When Tamra reminds us that she sort of witnessed Whitney doing coke in a bathroom stall a few weeks ago, it’s clear that yet another love interest guest star’s number is up: It’s been fun, Cristin Milioti. Nobody seems to be able to give this woman the TV role she deserves. The bad karma of being the dead mother on How I Met Your Mother lingers.
The surprise, however, is that we’re really running with this idea that Whitney was doing coke — the typical sitcom thing would be that she was just blowing her nose while dusting something with flour or whatever. Tamra tells Jody, who tells Jeremy while Jeremy plays a banjo song he wrote for Whitney, because why not.
Mindy’s interviewing potential nannies at the office, and we see the requisite parade of not-quite-rights, including an overpriced nanny with a British accent and a super-creepy dude. Morgan briefly tries to, as Mindy says, “come in here in a dress and Mrs. Doubtfire me.” Instead, Mindy chooses a seemingly perfect girl named Clara: “She’s responsible, she’s pretty, she’s too flat for Danny to like.” Just after hiring Clara, she’s served with court papers: Ma is suing her for “slave labor.”
Mindy appears at the office of Ma’s lawyer, who’s some random Castellano. Ma and Dot are there, but Mindy is “representing” herself: “Lawyers are for guilty people, like thieves and Edward Snowden.” (Someday, I’d like to map out all of Mindy’s political beliefs to see if there’s any cohesive philosophy or consistency.) Mindy complains that Ma allowed her no personal space, a concept none of the Castellanos in the room even recognize: “I gave Danny his bath until he was 18,” Ma says. “We all did,” Lawyer Castellano adds.
This all leads to Mindy’s excellent declaration when she returns to the doctor’s office: “People are always bagging on millennials and saying how great the elderly are, but they’re not. They can’t drive, they give terrible awards-show speeches, and they ruin Facebook.” That said, her presumably millennial nanny is at that moment using social media to nefarious ends, posting a photo of baby Leo in a “No Vaccine Zone” T-shirt. A-ha, the major flaw we knew had to surface with Clara. Mindy has it out with Clara, explaining that Big Pharma’s vaccines have eradicated Big Mumps and Big Polio. Clara leaves with the hurl of one final insult: “You’re an old lady like Britney Spears!”
Meanwhile, Jody has gone to confront Whitney about her cocaine use and demand she stop seeing Jeremy. This leads to the two sniping viciously at each other, then hooking up. (You have to give Mindy credit: A lot of crazy shit happens in almost any given episode.) Lucky for Jody, he finds upon returning to the office that Mindy is now taking care of Leo in a supply closet since her nanny stalked off. This is lucky because he can volunteer to look after Leo, thus allowing him to hold the baby while confessing his Whitney hookup to Jeremy. Jeremy punches him anyway — as soon as he puts the baby down — but agrees to stop seeing Whitney. Another hot, reasonably high-profile guest-star girlfriend bites the dust.
And, yes, Clara’s departure has paved the way for Ma to keep looking after Leo. She and Mindy make up, Ma presumably drops her lawsuit, and we have a real Sitcom-Style Setup going forward. Here’s to more Rhea Pearlman.