For such a funny show, The Mindy Project still offers an awful lot to ponder. For example, there’s a catchphrase (supposedly) from Michelle Kwan’s biography that gets thrown around a lot in this episode, that “Life doesn’t move in small steps, it moves in huge leaps.” Yes, on the surface, a platitudinal punchline, but in actuality, an absolute truth. Life can and does change in a moment. The most amazing things that can happen (as well as the most devastating) sometimes are the ones you don’t expect.
As it is for our Mindy: Of course she was looking forward to going to Stanford, but who knew it was going to be such a life-changer? After only a few months, she gets the opportunity to set up shop there with Dr. Gurglar, in this exciting new environment, Unfortunately, it’s a setting her boyfriend doesn’t fit into very well.
The ultimate rub with relationships is one that the happy endings we see in screen rom-coms can never show us: People keep changing and transforming. As Sage Peter points out to Mindy, “You’re allowed to change what you want in life. People do it all the time.” But once two people are in a relationship, they need to change and transform in similar ways. Trouble arises as soon as Mindy wants to go to a party with her classmates, and Danny wants to make pasta fagiola with ingredients he smuggled through the airport.
So, sometimes these changes can be huge. Adam Pally’s Peter Prentice gets an affectionate sendoff from everyone (My favorite nod: beer pong at his going-away party! Second favorite: Danny’s acknowledgement that he and Mindy may not be together if it weren’t for Peter) as he takes the huge leap to follow Lauren to Austin. I appreciated how his leaving wasn’t neatly tied up in a bow, that the textbook-romantic airport departure was turned absurdist by boarding by the military and the New York Philharmonic. So now Peter’s moving to Texas on the sheer faith that Lauren wants him there. And with the final transition of Peter’s character from gross frat boy to clever advice giver, in his last regular episode he gets to give Danny a talking-to, smash through a wall, realize that he’s best friends with Mindy, and give her that all-important news.
I knew going in that this episode was a game-changer (as Mindy Kaling tweeted, “and not in some BS way where I get a cat”), but I wasn’t expecting Peter’s announcement. But as I considered ways that your life changes in a big leap, pregnancy was the one I thought of first. One moment you’re not going to have a baby; the next, you are, and nothing is ever the same again.
You can complain about an ob-gyn having faulty birth control (but we’ve seen how disorganized Mindy can be, maybe it’s not too much of a stretch), or what this will mean to the show. Honestly, I thought maybe TMP was about to move the entire practice to San Francisco. Mindy tells Peter that all she ever wanted was to live with Danny in Manhattan with their 12 daughters, but since San Francisco she finds that she wants a lot more.
Which is a really interesting plot twist coming to us from Mindy Kaling, queen of the rom-com. Because now that Mindy Lahiri’s commitment moment has arrived, she’s not sure that she wants it. Sure, it could be because she’d be living in a rat-infested brownstone, or because she’s pregnant before she’s absolutely ready, but I think Kaling is pointing out an important truth for women: The ideal romantic package isn’t going to be enough. Not if you’re not fulfilled and doing what you want in your career and/or the rest of your personal life. Even for Mindy, who is introduced to us in the very first episode as someone whose life revolves around romantic movies, there is more to life than the perfect romance.
As much as I like Mindy and Danny’s talk at the end of the episode, it’s paradoxical. Danny admits that he has changed, thanks to Mindy. But we know how much he hates transition, so he follows up with the statement that he can only change so much, that she wouldn’t like him if he changed. Their long-distance conundrum has put the two at a definite impasse.
It’s all heady stuff, and as I look over what I’m writing you’d think that this was a Very Special Episode or depressing or some serious dreck. In fact, it’s farthest from it, which, again, is The Mindy Project’s sweet spot: hilarity over heart. This episode is full of fantastic cast-off lines like how Mindy would be a better partner for Danny in The Amazing Race than his Ma because she could eat a bucket of worms (“Great, now I’m hungry”); a valuable comment from Danny about how he hasn’t gotten the headboard fixed yet from her last visit, pointing to the pair’s passion; and no shortage of cracks about both NYC and San Francisco (New York Mindy: “Shut the hell up, trash!”), as well as a multitude of dim-sum references and Morgan shenanigans. The Mindy Project deftly weaves these lines throughout this episode while remaining focused on the big picture, and the inevitable showdown between what Mindy and Danny each want.
The thing about making a choice is, by choosing something, we have to say no to something else. By saying yes to San Francisco, Mindy was saying no to Danny and New York. But sometimes, something happens that makes a different kind of decision for us. Our life changes in a moment, and where does that leave us?
- I am taking the fact that Mindy has a cast of Danny’s penis as a keychain as a shoutout to Cynthia Plastercaster.
- Even though that Mindy Kaling also tweeted that the rats on set were cute like cartoon rats, I still squeeed. I have a rat thing. I would never be able to live in that brownstone.
- Real-life incident referenced in this episode: Someone thinking Mindy is Malala.
- Beverly was on fire this episode, but I especially love this exchange: “I always speak my mind. You look bad today!” Mindy: “I look like frickin’ Spring Awakening right now!”
- Speaking of, Mindy’s best outfit: The black crackled jacquard party dress from BGBG in the above image.
- Your secrets are safe-ish with Mindy.
- Would like to throw out some final props to Adam Pally, who I credit with igniting this show with some much-needed momentum about mid-point of season two. Dr. Peter Prentice will be missed.