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The Mindy Project and the Rom-Com Narrative Part 4

7 May

The first part of The Mindy Project and the rom-com narrative started back in September when the show returned for season 2 and it’s sprawled into a much bigger discussion as this year has progressed. At the time I tried to resist the Mindy/Danny “will they/won’t they” set up that was clearly taking place and while I couldn’t deny their super hot chemistry, a really great platonic male/female friendship on TV is the dream (it’s something I elaborate further on in the Felicity chat later this week). The Peter and Mindy dynamic has been pleasant surprise and this does hold the potential to be just this type of relationship.  After the season 2 premiere I was pretty conflicted about the Danny and Mindy coupling and as the season progressed it became impossible not to jump on board this ship.

The Mindy ProjectFor all of The Mindy Project’s creative stumbles and constant changes, the one aspect that has been stable throughout is the exploration of rom-coms that both Mindy Lahiri the protagonist and Mindy Kaling the creator know so well. The Danny/Mindy relationship is the other constant since the pilot episode and despite my reservations about the romance angle, the plotting this season has been magnificent. After the incredible first kiss, the first obstacle came 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 after a long build-up and tonally awkward episodes that followed suggested they might have wasted an opportunity by not sticking the landing. This hasn’t been the case and last week’s rejection by Mindy, followed by the ups and downs of this pairing in the finale show how Kaling has a firm grip on who this character is and what she wants this relationship to be.

Before we get to the “What next?” sequel let’s have a look at where we are right now. Grand romantic gestures are important to Mindy, but she’s not just a day dreamer with unrealistic expectations and it’s why it was important that Danny has to work to win her back after he broke up with her initially. It’s why I’m glad that Mindy rejected his kiss last week after he only showed interest in her when there was another guy on the scene. Danny felt like he was recreating the plane moment and instead he didn’t consider how Mindy would feel about his hot/cold behavior.

In the finale Danny decides to go for another tactic he thinks she will dig and that’s a catfish plan using the “Was it You?” column in the paper posing as Andy (or Dr Greg from Mad Men). It’s a set up straight out of a Nora Ephron movie which is why Danny thinks it’s a winning idea and the Bradley Cooper photo pinned to his mirror so he can recreate the three-piece suit look is maybe the most adorable thing he has done. To stop Mindy from coming up to his apartment and ruining the surprise, Danny lies and says he’s “being intimate with himself” and I would never have predicted that two different comedies would use The Good Wife as part of a masturbating gag this season (the other being Broad City). I guess it can be a pretty sexy show. When Mindy tells Danny that he was right about them not being a couple he gets cold feet and instead of telling Mindy the truth he lets her go to the Empire State Building where he knows she’s going to get stood up and that’s pretty shitty.

The montage and Danny narration as they take in the sites of everywhere Megan Ryan has laugh/cried is the most adorable and it’s something I was anticipating thanks to the preview Kaling gave on her Instagram last month when they were shooting these scenes. This show gets the rom-com moments spot on, including the misunderstandings that almost doom the relationship. When Mindy see fake Andy on the subway and starts yelling at him it is time for Danny to come clean. Danny’s initial email plan has all the marks of a grand romantic gesture, but it’s also based on deceit and while rom-coms have these kinds of moments, Danny has read this situation completely wrong.

Danny not wanting to come clean about their relationship in front of their colleagues was the ultimate slap in the face for Mindy and it’s why she has a hard time buying his “I love you declarations” as they are just words and she can’t trust anything he says “because you love me until you don’t.” This conversation in the bathroom is a heartbreaking repeat of when Mindy called Danny on his “I don’t want to lose my best friend” BS reason for breaking up. It’s teary once again and this is when The Mindy Project feels at its most real; the rom-com is just the palette they work from and they can do emotional honesty just as well. Mindy doesn’t want to fall for this as despite these romantic notions she still has self-worth and she doesn’t want to be made a fool of again.

It all comes back to the earrings that Mindy left behind at Danny’s apartment as the sign that Mindy needs; words can be manipulated but the inclusion of these earrings in Danny’s box of important stuff speaks so much louder. The build up to the Empire State Building climax uses Bruce Springsteen, Danny getting hit by a cab but running on regardless and Mindy having to take the stairs as the lift is briefly out. All the trappings for an excellent ending and as I’ve walked 20 flights of those stairs I know I would definitely be lying on the floor wheezing like Mindy is after climbing all of them. Danny’s “I wanna go all in” is wonderfully misinterpreted by Mindy and their final smooch is adorable even if they’re lying on a probably dirty floor. They just don’t care.

So, what next?

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

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Out of the Box: Look of the Week | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 9, 2014

    […] As there’s been a lot of red carpet goings on this week starting with the WHCD followed by the Met Gala (parts one and two) “Out of the Box” is going for a selection box approach of looks that have caught our eye this week. This includes magazine covers, premieres and one of the many romantic moments from The Mindy Project season finale. […]

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

    […] next?” as they have to deal with what normally comes after the credits of a movie. The story doesn’t just end with smooching at the top of the Empire State […]

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