Last night was the season finale of The Mindy Project, and if we’re being honest, this episode had a lot of weirdness. Let’s just jump right in with a brief spattering of some of the strange, okay? Because bullet points are really the only way I can process the mess of this episode.
—Let’s get Ukranian (?) Laura Dern out of the way right off the bat. For a role that was nothing more than an “accents are funny” joke, she f*cking nailed it. She nailed it so hard it made me very uncomfortable for enjoying it.
—Oh good! The old boyfriend round-up. Because if you can’t pull out all the sitcom standby tropes for a season finale, when can you? This made zero sense, but at least it gave us a couple minutes of B.J. Novak, Max Greenfield, and Anders Holm. (Plus that other guy.)
—Yay! Peter’s back! For some almost plausible reason that kind of makes sense. Though, just as Mindy apparently couldn’t find one single person in her office or all of New York to check her blood pressure, Peter, I suppose, doesn’t trust anyone in Texas to give him a haircut.
But the real issue that needs addressing— not just in this episode, but in most of this season— is the show’s central couple. I’ve had a lot of problems with Danny and Mindy’s relationship this season. There’s a recurring pattern of Danny seeing some fault in Mindy >> making her feel disappointing or generally Less Than >> Mindy expressing her hurt and/or resolving to make some change to her fundamental personhood >> Danny making some grand gesture/sexy dance to prove they’re meant to be. The thing is, I’m not sure I DO think they’re meant to be. This pattern skeeves me out and don’t you give me that “It’s fictional” bullcrap. Of course they’re not real people, but an unhealthy relationship is an unhealthy relationship, fiction or no.
The frustrating part of my issues with Mindy is that I can’t get myself to write the show off entirely. Because there is some really interesting stuff going on; I’m just not convinced it’s all deliberate. The flounderings of Mindy and Danny make for one of the most realistic couples on television. When he’s not micromanaging her life or making weird comments about how her parents are probably naming a goat after their son in India, Danny’s concerns over his relationship with Mindy are realistic and relatable, and that relatability can lead to some truly heartfelt moments. Danny’s not a bad guy for not being sure he wants to marry Mindy, and last night’s revelation of his uncertainty wasn’t out of the blue. (This season started, remember, with him being ashamed of their relationship, and later on, when he read in Mindy’s diary about her desire to get married, he almost left her.) I just can’t help feeling that I would be more invested in his mind being changed if their relationship weren’t built on a foundation of such an unequal power dynamic. Still, there is a tenderness there. In the finale, when Annette tells Danny “Maybe the problem isn’t marriage. Maybe the problem is we picked people who didn’t deserve it,” you can’t possibly not feel for Danny.
And that’s the thing: I do feel for Danny. I love Danny. I just don’t love him and Mindy together. Most of this season seems to have been spent trying to figure out what to do with these two. The show has had them together, has had them apart (with her in San Francisco), and finally threw a baby into the mix to shake things up. And if there’s anything that definitely won’t stabilize this relationship (or any relationship!), it’s a baby. This season finale couldn’t have come at a better time, because these two needed to hit the pause button. The Mindy Project hasn’t gotten an official fourth season order, but it would be surprising if the show didn’t return. And I hope it does. I just hope it comes back with a bit more focus. Whether Danny’s grand gesture at the end of this season pays off, or if they decide their differences are irreconcilable, I’m rooting for this show. I’ve loved it before and I trust I can love it again. I hope that, like Mindy and Danny, the show and I are only going through a rough patch.
Vivian Kane hopes you noticed there were ZERO GIFs in this ‘Mindy Project’ write-up. It’s like she’s growing as a person.