From its earliest days, The Mindy Project grappled with the problem of having an “unlikable” main character, exploring the possibilities of grafting a whole show around a less-than-exemplary lead. Mindy Kaling, of course, had already seen this happen as a twentysomething in the writers’ room at The Office. Like Steve Carell (or Ricky Gervais, for that matter), Kaling also managed to create a character that we root for even when they say or do things that we may not agree with.

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But Mindy Lahiri rarely gets called out for it, so it’s a positive turn when her actions actually have some repercussions this episode. It helps that her heart is in the right place, trying to save her favorite patient from being tied forever to a guy who clearly is not ready for settling down. Still, even by the mildest boundaries of professionalism, Mindy asking probing questions of her patient’s sperm donor is crossing a line.

The hipster/scenester thing has been played out on a variety of different shows, from My Boys to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Although it’s always fun to see what the writers will come up with: My favorite might have been the Transylvanian cuisine with the charred crow. And I believe the reenacting of Full House episodes was already mentioned on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, performed by malfunctioning Chuck E. Cheese characters. Still, the setup offered lots of funny lines (Mindy after getting a raw egg cracked on her head at an apparently Eyes Wide Shut-inspired performance: “I like that that happened to me. It’s smart.”) It also offered a plausible reason for Marcus to head for Mindy’s revolving relationship door, setting up what she may have with someone else. Her inscrutable expression at the end after Jody touches her forehead opens up a wide range of possibilities.

Until that tricky hurdle, however, we have Mindy coming to terms with stepping over the line for a patient, and revealing how much her breakup with Danny has affected her. She’s in a lot of pain raising her invisible child by herself, so when she sees the opportunity to prevent someone she likes from going through the same thing, she goes for it. It’s an important transition for her character, and with Danny gone, Jody has now stepped into her main confidant role. On one level, her delusion still stands (“I am great with boundaries!”), but on another, she’s blaming herself for the complications now present in her life (childcare logistics, fights over the theme for Leo’s birthday) that arose after she couldn’t make her relationship work. Yes, sometimes things are just unfixable (and the jury is still out on the ultimate resolution of Danny and Mindy), but that doesn’t keep people from wondering what they could have done to make things turn out a little differently.

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I run hot and cold with Tracey Wigfield, who plays Lauren, the paramour who once got between Peter and Jeremy (now married to Peter). She’s written a number of Mindy episodes, from the sublime “Christmas Party Sex Trap” to the slipshod “L.A.,” which has the worst grade I’ve ever given this show. This episode is one of her best, as it accomplishes what a great sitcom episode should: a ton of laughs, alongside some insightful realization about the characters. The B-plot was a pretty meh B-plot, although it’s nice to see the secondary cast get more screen time. But even that offered us another dinner scene with Jeremy and a hilarious poetry slam by Morgan: “Verizon, you don’t own me / Verizon, release me.” Well done.

And still the show appears to be inching us closer to a Mindy and Jody hookup, basically by removing all other obstacles. I once read a study that said that workplace romances have a pretty high success rate; it’s easier to see what a person is really like at work than by dating them, because you get to see how they deal with stress and conflict. Mindy’s dating persona versus her work one would certainly indicate how that comes into play, as she’s much lower maintenance on dates than she is in real life. Jody is at least stern enough, and thoughtful enough, to be straight with Mindy when she’s letting her personal life seep into her professional one. But I’m still not sure he’s a candidate for Mindy’s greatest date in the world, even if the episode sets it up to seem like he is.

Stray observations

  • Ike Barinholtz had some great moments this episode. He killed this delivery: “I’m Laura Linney.”
  • And this was my favorite delivery by Kaling: “Now we get our X-rays like that! Like that we get them!”
  • The Farting Vicar absolutely sounds like a popular British comedy.
  • Nice Amazon diss!
  • “That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard, and I played saxophone in high school to get guys.”
  • “My interior designer does all of Vincent Gallo’s homes.” “Oh, he seems like a good guy.”
  • I’m not down with Mindy on all chain restaurants, but I get where she’s coming from. My family took me to Red Lobster for Mothers’ Day (my request), and I got a mai tai and a pound of crab legs. And those little cheddar biscuits. Heaven.
  • “Do not throw the semen sample!” “He threw it at me!” “Yeah, but you’re a nurse!”
  • You can find Lonesome Dove in the Grandpa’s Casket Stuffers Section at Barnes & Noble.
  • There are a lot of unanswered questions in those Cars movies.
  • Mindy’s best outfit: That colorblock shift she wore in the office for her meeting with Eden and Lewis. Can someone track that down for me please? Also loved the metallic gold skirt with the blue and white jacket. Pretty sure Mindy has at least 43 wardrobe changes per episode, and I love most of them.

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