I feel like we are watching the Mindy and Danny relationship dissolve. It’s odd after so many episodes, and seasons, of watching them inch closer and closer together, to now see them drift farther and farther apart. I sadly don’t have the time to go back and rewatch and trace Danny’s personality from day one: In this episode it almost seems as if he’s being demonized, but I know there have been traces of this side of his personality behavior before this. When he told Mindy she should lose weight in season one. When he made Mindy go to church with him, even though she’s far from his religion. But this week, with the birth-control standoff, Mindy and Danny are on such opposite sides, I don’t even know how they pull it all back together. More importantly, I don’t know if that’s what the show wants them to do.

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When The Mindy Project was a rom-sitcom, it was easy, because we’ve all been so conditioned through years of watching these types of events unfold that we knew exactly what to root for. Kiss her, Danny! Meet her on the top of the Empire State Building! Don’t worry about that other guy! Now, we’re not so sure. We have a lot invested in Danny, but now he also appears to be some sort of caveman who is actively sabotaging his fiancee’s fertility clinic. As much as we love him, as much as we even may feel for him when he says he wants to have kids only because that’s how much he feels about Mindy, we know that this setup isn’t right. As Mindy herself says, “This will not stand.”

For whatever reason, The Mindy Project taps into my personal psyche, so as I have done before this half-season, permit me an interjection. I grew up with a mother who went back to school when I was little, and carved her own career when she was almost 40. It never occurred to me that there was anything I couldn’t do because I was a woman. It still doesn’t. I once was engaged to a man who was opposed to me keeping my name after marriage, even though it’s my byline, my professional identity (although it’s impossible to spell). Unlike my husband now, who shrugged and said, ”Whatever.”

Women, especially mothers, carry a lot more of this weight and guilt about their careers. As I’ve said, I know there is nothing stronger than I can do for my kids than show them that they can grow up and do what they love. It reminds me of Mindy’s talk with Leo in the bedroom, when she realized she had to go back to work. Danny knows that he and Mindy wants different things, but what he still doesn’t get is that he is totally wrong here. It’s Mindy’s body. She has the right to take birth control no matter what, and he doesn’t have the right to try to get her pregnant against her will. What is he thinking? That she’ll be be so happy about the baby she forgets all the deception that led to the conception? Has he forgotten how hard it is to stay home, which both of them experienced in “Stay-At-Home MILF”? Has he totally disregarded his future father-in-law’s advice about what happens when you deny your partner their dream?

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So all of this unfolds in The Mindy Project, which ostensibly bills itself as a comedy. For Kaling and her writers to go so dark isn’t unprecedented exactly. This episode I was reminded of the time that Jamie and Paul Buchanan briefly split on Mad About You, where about half the episode involved a fight before their breakup. I remember there was a lot of press afterward, complaining, “I thought I was watching a comedy!” But who’s to say what’s a comedy or drama (or, God forbid, a dramedy) anymore? Kaling has stated how happy she is to have more freedom at Hulu, where she is clearly pushing this genre to its limits.

That’s not to say that the episode doesn’t contain its funny moments. Like Morgan, bless him, hurling donuts and antagonizing the Lahiri Fertility Clinic’s Patient Zero. Notably, he is also the only person who chastises Danny for not supporting Mindy. We know that Mindy has no female friends for whatever reason, but the other men in her life, particularly Jody, picking up the baton of Peter, appear to be nothing but proud of her. As they should be. Danny, by calling her selfish, is being the selfish one himself.

So I don’t know where we go from here. I don’t know anything about Chris Messina and whether or not he wants to stay on the show. For a while last season I was enjoying the fact that The Mindy Project appeared to be mining a lot of rich, valuable comedy just about being in a relationship, not unlike that Mad About You couple. But I guess even that has to come to an end. Maybe this show is about Mindy Lahiri, who we were introduced to as someone who revered and idealized rom-coms, realizing that romance is not where the ultimate fulfillment is. For her right now it’s being a mother, but also (and just as importantly, if not more so), it’s creating and running her own business and using her skills and talents to help people. If that’s The Mindy Project’s ultimate message, it’s a great one.

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Stray observations

  • Morgan, thank God, did have some awesome one-liners, which helped this episode from getting too bleak, like “#libraryuser14.” Jody also kicked in with his abandoned toasts about immigrants and Jefferson Davis.
  • Interesting that the part we saw in the movie theater of When Harry Met Sally featured Harry telling his friend the story of the breakup of his marriage.
  • I feel like also what Mindy Kaling must love about Hulu is the chance to be a little racier, with the the explicit pillow talk this episode.
  • Mindy’s best outfit: That pink suit with the chain pattern. She really looks striking in bright colors, and that was stunning on her.
  • Next week: The winter finale features a flashback to “When Mindy Met Danny.”

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