The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project pulled it off in the end: a happy, satisfying, romantic, and somehow believable ending for our heroine. Of course, Mindy Kaling and her writers benefitted greatly by knowing this season would be their last, and the short, ten-episode run served their purposes perfectly. The show meandered for a few too many seasons without its male romantic lead, Danny, and never fully recovered until he returned, as the finale demonstrates. But even without him, the series delivered more good jokes per minute than most.
And now we got what we wanted — Danny + Mindy 4-eva! — in an entertaining, sweet series finale. It’s a rare bright spot in pretty dismal times, so I’m not about to overanalyze it. This finale might not be one for the ages, but it leaves us with a pleasant afterglow for a show with a strong legacy, most notably being the first created by and starring an Indian-American woman, a pioneer in the broadcast-to-streaming transition, and the best demonstration of Mindy Kaling’s full range of talents. The finale played on the show’s romantic-comedy strengths and nicely echoed the pilot episode, showing that Mindy had actually changed — and, crucially, so had Danny.
We begin with Mindy worrying that her business will fold now that Jody has pulled his equity out upon leaving for Africa. Meanwhile, Morgan and Tamra are preparing for their wedding and Jeremy is celebrating his freedom after his overbearing father’s death.
Mindy interviews a montage’s worth of candidates to replace Jody at Later, Baby, but she comes up empty-handed, while Jeremy and Anna head to England for his father’s funeral. When they return, Jeremy is … different. Specifically, he’s wearing a puffer vest, a yellow sweatshirt, earrings, and frosted tips. And he’s speaking with a decidedly un-posh British accent. Anna is not happy with these changes. She’s even more displeased with his suggestion that they skip work and take “the first flight out.” That would be to Cincinnati, she tells him. Okay, how about the first international flight? That would be to Saskatoon. “It’s like Pink Floyd said, let’s not be another brick in the wall,” he says in his new accent. Anna replies, “Okay, you’re sounding a lot like a college freshman right now.”
Mindy switches her attention from her business to Annette’s upcoming mastectomy. She accompanies Annette and Danny to an appointment with Dr. Choi, a prominent anesthesiologist Mindy knows from med school. He claims to be too busy to do Annette’s surgery, having been inundated with requests after a recent feature in Snooze magazine. Mindy demands he make time, or else, she says, “I’m going to post the video of you doing your swing dance routine from the med school talent show.” Annette is, after all, Mindy’s “son’s only white grandma.” Dr. Choi agrees to do it after all, and Danny is impressed with Mindy’s take-charge-ness. This continues when Mindy explains that she can’t be at the hospital the day of the surgery because it’s the same day as Morgan’s wedding, but she’s already lined up Annette’s friend Dot to babysit Leo and made sure the doctors will play Perry Como while putting Annette to sleep for the surgery.
On the big day, of course, everything comes to a head. Beverley bemoans the fact that her newly found son is a no-show for the wedding: “I took the kids to steal some copper wiring at a new build. He wasn’t crazy about that.” Let us all take one final moment to recognize the brilliance of Beth Grant in this role. She makes me truly believe that Beverley really would take the kids to steal some copper wiring at a new build. Jeremy shows up to the church returned to normal, much to Anna’s delight. “I went through a goth phase in high school,” she says sympathetically. “It didn’t work because I was too pretty, but I understand the urge.” Mindy counters that she liked the New Jeremy. “I liked when he was fat!” Beverley chimes. See? Gold.
During the wedding, Mindy gets a call from her accountant, Melville, telling her that Danny has offered to take up Jody’s equity stake. She immediately calls Danny, who’s watching Access Hollywood in the waiting room at the hospital. “It’s a good one. The cast of Blue Bloods is dishing on the new season. They even got Selleck.” (Danny’s old-man TV taste never gets old to me.) Mindy berates him, accusing him of trying to control her again by buying a piece of her business. He tells her that’s not it at all, and this conversation is the key to turning their relationship around from that nightmare breakup of theirs. “You helped so many people, Min, and it hasn’t affected you as a mom. I couldn’t see it back then, but I was wrong. … I don’t want to tell you how to run your business. I believe in you.” Chris Messina and his sexy salt-and-pepper beard sell every word.
By reception time, Beverley’s son has shown up with her granddaughters, yay! Even better, Morgan performs a delightful dance routine for Tamra to Jason Derulo’s “Want to Want Me” because, he says, “I wanted to use words to tell you how I feel about you, but it was just too dirty.” Ike Barinholtz looking a little sexy — closer to how he was in Sisters — and his dancing is surprisingly decent. He’s no Chris Messina, but it works. Jeremy and Anna soon join him as backup dancers, and then Colette and Bev. I teared up a little at how sweet it is. They must have had a blast filming it.
Mindy delivers the final toast, and, of course, has a revelation of her own: “What I didn’t realize was how much people can change.” She calls out to the audience, asking for a translation of what’s written in Italian on the bracelet she’s wearing that once belonged to Danny’s grandma: correre means run, Jeremy tells her. So she does, presumably to find Danny at the hospital, but she soon realizes that’s kind of far. And she can’t get an Uber because she’s banned for talking to the drivers too much. So Morgan offers to let her use his bicycle, which is really just a way to get Mindy to ride a bike from a wedding reception like she did in the pilot, and I am fine with that. This time, she steers skillfully to avoid plunging into a pool like she did last time. Growth!
When she finally gets to Danny, sweaty and out of breath, he instantly deflates the Italian bracelet symbolism in his Danny way: “My grandfather gave it to my grandmother to get her to run more. She was 400 pounds. Disgusting.” Disheartened by the reality of the situation once she gets there — Danny is just drinking coffee, Ma is fine, Richie is there — Mindy loses her grand-gesture mojo and leaves.
But what just happened is totally obvious to Ma and Richie, who break it down for Danny. He runs after Mindy and finds her in the doctors’ lounge, stuck in the vending machine. After he helps her out of that predicament, we finally, finally get what we came for: “I wasn’t going to say that I loved you again,” she explains. “I was going to say that I never stopped loving you and I don’t think I ever will.” They kiss! Thank goodness! All is right with the world. Danny doesn’t want to move to the West Village to live with her because there are too many cupcake shops, but they have all the time in the world to work that out. For now, they’re just going to cuddle on the sofa in the lounge and watch TV while a cool cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” plays us out. These two have so much chemistry — and Mindy’s plunging black dress is so hot — that this feels perfect to me.
Well done, Mindy. Thanks for six seasons of too many good lines to possibly write down, great commentary on rom-coms and professional women and religion, a truly unique heroine, and one great love story.