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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Mindy Project explores Mindy’s new dating world

Illustration for article titled The Mindy Project explores Mindy’s new dating world
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Last fall, Vanity Fair ran an article about Tinder and “The Dating Apocalypse,” pointing out how the new “swipe right” twentysomething world worked out much better for men than the women involved. Immediate hookups available with little to no emotional weight behind them have been a boon to people who just want to have sex, less so for those looking for an actual relationship:

“The double standard is real,” Nick says. “If I’m a guy and I’m going out and fucking a different girl every night, my friends are gonna give me high-fives and we’re gonna crack a beer and talk about it. Girls do the same, but they get judged. I don’t want it to be like that, but sometimes the world is the way it is and I can’t change it, so I just embrace it.”

But what about the women who just want to hook up as well? It’s an interesting arena for The Mindy Project to tackle, as Mindy Lahiri is a busy single mom not overwhelmed with options for complication-free sex. Mindy being Mindy, her take on it is hilarious (Tinder turns into Pork-it, or Cuddlespot for the older folks) thankfully including the return of her uninhibited friend Chelsea (Eliza Coupe). Mindy wants to have sex, and is up for it with little emotional attachment. Unfortunately the first guy she meets is an over-the-top gross sexual stereotype, complete with porn mustache and gold chains, who wants to anonymously get it on in a public bathroom. Mindy fortunately finds a much better spark with the bartender, J.J., played by Kyle Bornheimer.

I really enjoyed Bornheimer in Angel From Hell, a quickly cancelled show I’m pretty sure only I liked, and he doesn’t disappoint here either. His J.J. perfectly shows how you can have instant chemistry with an almost-stranger, due to not just immediate physical attraction, but a complementary sparring personality. In short, he becomes the ideal hookup partner. In the end, Mindy, somehow inspired by Jody, just walks up to J.J. and asks for what she wants, and gets it. As I’ve said about Mindy before, it shouldn’t be revolutionary, but it is, and ends the episode on a practically cheerworthy note. A sweet kiss goodbye, and Mindy’s self-satisfied smile in the bed she started the episode alone in: perfect.

Also cheerworthy: After some Danny-less episodes, it was an absolute shock to see him bust into Jody’s office and accost him about the letter, right? Following these few weeks of separation, we can see how much our depiction of Danny has changed: The Danny we loved would never say something like, “I don’t care what Mindy wants anymore. This is about what I want.” So he’s a bit rage-fueled, but clearly still has a lot of feelings for Mindy: Nobody does those soulful pining-for-Mindy glances like Chris Messina. His arm through the elevator, grab, kiss on the cheek, and “make good decisions” line almost-but-not-quite makes up for his caveman behavior earlier, as he realizes that he has to let Mindy go, and can only hope that she’ll be better on her own. The best part is that, following that, she does make an absolutely wonderful decision, saying “screw this” to Jody awkwardly backing out of their coffee date, and going after J.J.

The Jody pining is something I hope the show will wrap up by the end of the season, although I fear it will end with Mindy at a Jody/Danny cliffhanger. His leather-bound and antique-filled apartment is hilarious, and his efforts to fit into the modern era by reading TV Guide and actually getting a TV are awkwardly admirable, like a little green alien from outer space trying to learn about Earthling behavior. The viewing party also offered some valuable group staff time, with Jeremy encased in tweed and Beverly resembling Mammy Yokum with a corncob pipe (and I would have loved to have seen that intervention). But even that brief elevator scene with Danny shines a spotlight on what’s lacking. I don’t care how much the two Elementary leads sizzle around each other: Mindy and Jody just don’t have it. Mindy and Danny do. And surprisingly, so do Mindy and J.J., so with any luck, we’ll see him again.


Stray observations

  • This being a Charlie Grandy episode, there were many choice one-liners sprinkled throughout, from Jody’s coma after a sailboat accident, to Jeremy’s intense love for Sherlock Holmes, to Tamra’s party contributions: “I already bought all the ingredients for my one-layer dip: Ranch!”
  • “The days for me to feel sexy and single were in my 20s, and now that I’m in my 20s, those days are over.”
  • Office reunion! Second appearance this TV season of Paul Lieberstein as a sad dating man (the other one being on Togetherness). “Oh, I never finished telling you about my cousin’s trip to Hartford” may be the most boring sentence ever uttered. But just the thought of Kelly Kapoor and Toby on a date is delightful; also noted how Mindy’s wine glass was completely empty as she slipped out of the apartment, while his hadn’t been touched yet.
  • Of course Cousin Lou was a mailman in a porn.
  • Mindy’s best outfit: metallic stretchy striped shift that she wore to the bar the first time.