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The Mindy Project and the Rom-Com Narrative Part 3

2 Apr

As I mentioned yesterday, TV Ate My Wardrobe turns 1 this month (I still can’t quite get my head around the idea that it’s been a year) and to celebrate this anniversary there will be special attention paid to the shows and discussions that have featured heavily over the past year. One such show is The Mindy Project and TAMW has a penchant for the “will they/won’t they” phenomenon and so The Mindy Project’s return after a two month hiatus to deal with this HUGE step forward means it’s time to check in and see how they deal with the “What next?”

The Mindy Project 2.15My position on Mindy and Danny has shifted from liking them as just friends, to conflicted pro and con feelings about a potential hookup to being all in with them getting together. My original reticence stemmed from the usual “will they/won’t they” worries as this friendship was one of the only consistently good things about the uneven first season of The Mindy Project. As the quality and focus has improved, my desire to see Mindy and Danny together has also changed. From the super swoony Aaliyah dance, followed by the even swoonier airplane kiss the progression has never felt false. The chemistry between Chris Messina and Mindy Kaling is part of what makes this potential coupling so compelling and it’s one reason I’m happy they are pushing forward with this pairing.

So how well did they handle the post kiss double bill? With aplomb, starting with this brilliant line from Danny post first kiss; “I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t kiss, me, I’ll realize this was a big mistake and I’ll return to my seat in humiliation. One, two, three . . . four.” That extra number is all Mindy needs to commit to this and after this super romantic moment we get a scene that shows how Mindy straddles the rom-com line and then injects a bit of reality into it all. As with the sex in the shower scene with Casey, this was nowhere near as romantic as movies tend to make it out to be, getting frisky in an airplane bathroom will likely end up with one person getting their arm stuck in a bin and the other with their head down a toilet. Despite this early clumsy making out session, Mindy and Danny return to her apartment holding hands and ready to see where this is heading.

Romantic obstacles stand in the way and this was never going to be easy; first up is Cliff who thinks they are back together after Danny wrote the amazing email posing as Mindy. Mindy does her best to get dumped including going to the bathroom with the door open and mentioning the eight kids her psychic says they’re going to have together.

What follows is a series of setbacks including Cliff’s grandmother dying, followed by a sex tape Mindy made with Tom ending up on the internet in the second episode. The path of true love is not meant to run smooth and a spot of viral meningitis lands Danny (and later Mindy) in the hospital. Mindy wants to take things slow with Danny and she doesn’t want to jump into bed straight away with him. Danny’s not entirely happy with this decision and the timing of the sex tape ending up on Sploderzz (A+ on that name) has Mindy worried that it’s going to be over before anything has really happened.

The Mindy Project

The thing with a “will they/won’t they” couple on TV is they generally know a lot about the other person’s dating history as they’re usually friends first. So Danny knows that Mindy has dated quite a few guys, no he doesn’t know the intimate details (well, until now) and so initially he doesn’t understand why she is treating him differently. Mindy has all of these romantic notions that never pan out the way they do in the movies she constantly refers to, but Danny isn’t just some guy who can play a part in an Empire State Building fantasy; he’s a co-worker and a friend who she has known for a very long time and so to screw this up, means screwing up those other parts of her relationship with him.

Now one thing a rom-com generally has is the best friend character who acts as a truthsayer, while Peter doesn’t have BFF status just yet and he’s a self confessed “party hungry bro-dawg” he is the one who brings them back together. Rom-coms are all about misunderstandings and resolutions and Peter plays his part perfectly – Peter is finally becoming a more fleshed out character and Adam Pally is excellent in both of these episodes. Peter also figures out why Danny is so pissed about the video and the repeated use of “wait” plus his eye bulge when he puts two and two together is pretty magical.

So we have the friend who knows what is going on, but is half-pretending he doesn’t – “maybe she even wants to get boned by the practice” – several obstacles and a super cute resolution that suggests these two have a chance. Plotting this kind of relationship change and satisfying an audience can be tricky to navigate. Off the basis of these first two episodes back, Mindy Kaling has a handle on how to make this a successful transition and it is a welcome relief to see romantic joy on TV after shows like The Good WifeNew Girl and HIMYM have been putting us all through the emotional wringer recently. It’s been a tough two weeks for viewers so Danny coming to Mindy and getting into her hospital bed to read Bridget Jones’s Diary to her (with different voices) is enough to warm this TV watching broken heart. Those red reading glasses are pretty much everything.

For parts 1 and 2 of this evolving discussion on The Mindy Project and the Rom-Com Narrative head here and here.

 

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4 Responses to “The Mindy Project and the Rom-Com Narrative Part 3”

  1. headoverfeels April 2, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    I wrote earlier this seasons that Pally was playing “straight Max” still, so I’m so pleased that Peter is being fleshed out. Having him become invested in Mindy and Danny’s happiness was unexpected, but totally endearing. And, as you said, Pally killed that scene. –S

    • Emma Fraser April 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      I still need to watch Happy Endings (I’m hanging my head in shame as S1 is sitting on my shelf waiting). Yeah, I was really happy with his involvement in the second episode and I hope there’s more of these moments ahead.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Deal with the “What Next?” on The Mindy Project and New Girl | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 9, 2014

    […] our hearts at the exact same time? It feels like just a week ago (ok it was just a week ago) that I was praising The Mindy Project for producing a bright spark of happiness on a TV horizon littered with […]

  2. The Mindy Project and the Rom-Com Narrative Part 5 | TV Ate My Wardrobe - September 18, 2014

    […] are a couple now, haters (bitches) and as I have mentioned throughout this rom-com series the “will they/won’t they” then turns into a “What […]

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