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How to Deal with the “What Next?” on The Mindy Project and New Girl

9 Apr

Did TV decide to stomp all over 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 breakups, deaths, ill advised hook-ups and general misery. There was smooching and Danny showed his commitment through Bridget Jones’s Diary (with bonus voices) and it looked like the “What next?” was going to turn into coupledom. Alas those dreams have been squashed as Danny could commit to Mindy in private, but not in public and now they’re in that awkward ‘something happened and now we’re done phase.’ They got to that phase real quick.

While I’m not equating New Girl and The Mindy Project to being the same show, they are currently on a similar path with their central romance story. The big kiss moment also occurred in the same episode of the season – 2.15 – and while New Girl used the rest of the season to get to that place of being together, Mindy went all in straight away. It also went all out at a much quicker rate.

Mindy Project“Why did you kiss me, Danny? Why did you even start this?”

In a tearful scene that ended Mindy and Danny before they’d even really begun, Danny pulls the plug citing his fear that he will lose his best friend. Mindy doesn’t take this lightly, telling him the friendship card is “garbage.” Basically he thinks he is terrible at relationships (because he’s just been reminded how terrible he is) and he comes up with a scenario where it all ends horribly. Mindy has an alternative view and thinks they will argue, but they will always makeup. This isn’t enough to convince Danny who bails and it feels all too sudden for such a long build-up. Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina sell the devastation of this moment and now The Mindy Project joins the increasingly long list of comedy shows that have made me tear up this season. It’s a great scene, even if it made me want to throw things.

NewGirl-Ep319_TBD-Sc25_00927It’s the TV show problem of the “What next?” as the screen doesn’t fade to black at this point and the story continues. Breaking up creates conflict and we’re at that point where a lot of shows are rolling out their big dramaz to build towards the end of the season. This is the case of New Girl which saw Nick and Jess reluctantly call it quits after an episode of arguing and longing for what they had when they were friends. In a sense both “will they/won’t they” scenarios are hampered by proximity; in Mindy they work together, they’re roommates on New Girl and so a romance has instant ramifications as does a breakup. Getting together/breaking up that’s the cycle of a sitcom romance and it’s been a problem for multiple shows over the years to resolve this and keep the story going without pissing off and losing an audience. Ross and Rachel became a burden long after Ross first yelled “We were on a break” and the recent How I Met Your Mother finale underscores this point with who Ted ended up.

There is no easy out, no single story idea that will work for every show and the breaking up aspect is part of sitcoms. Without conflict and high stakes you end up with a Ben and Leslie (who I adore) and while that works for Parks and Recreation, it helps that there is enough other drama in this world that means they don’t have to focus on romantic tension. Maybe Nick and Jess were becoming too complacent this season and I am equal parts annoyed and intrigued with this development. With Mindy and Danny it feels too abrupt, there has been little time for them to grow romantically and I want to see where they will take this pairing next. If nothing else it’s helped a great deal with Peter and his friendship with Mindy is now just as important to me. Good solid work from Adam Pally.

Whatever both shows plan on doing with their final episodes this season, I can but at least hope for something a little less devastating than what the last few weeks of TV has delivered. This is some darkest timeline level of shenanigans that we’ve been experiencing of late.

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4 Responses to “How to Deal with the “What Next?” on The Mindy Project and New Girl”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New Girl 3.21 “Big News” Review – “Faaaaaaaantastic” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 16, 2014

    […] been a lot of talk on here of “What next?” and the “will they/won’t they” on New […]

  2. The Mindy Project and the Rom-Com Narrative Part 4 | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 7, 2014

    […] in the form of keeping the relationship secret and it’s all part of the TV dilemma of “What next?” that the movies Mindy adores don’t have to deal with. The suddenness of the breakup […]

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

    […] the Rom-Com Narrative column and what started as a standalone piece has produced multiple parts and spinoffs (incorporating New Girl and the “What Next?”). The Mindy Project plays with the […]

  4. The Mindy Project, Nora Ephron and the Many Roads Traveled   | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 24, 2015

    […] a rom-com movie, as the couple has beaten whatever obstacle split them up mid story and they ask “What next?” This entails crossing into potentially creative choppy waters by turning a “will […]

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