Wednesday, November 25, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Mindy Project' - Visiting Parents Force a Discussion Between Mindy & Danny in 'The Lahiris and the Castellanos'

Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 4.11 "The Lahiris and the Castellanos"

Mindy and Danny's parents meet for the first time and their clashing personalities make for an awkward engagement party. Meanwhile, Mindy must confront Danny with a secret.

The Mindy Project is tackling a very messy and complicated storyline this season. It is analyzing just how much a relationship can change once marriage and a baby are thrown into the mix. Those are two things that Mindy has always dreamed of having. She has a great relationship with Danny and has so much love for her son, Leo. But now, she is realizing just how difficult it is to manage all of those things with her professional dreams. It's an awkward and very sensitive subject that the two have to figure out as a couple. The lines of communication have weakened ever since Danny went across the country to care for his sick father. But now, Danny is back and the two need to have a serious conversation about their future as a family. It's an awkward and difficult conversation. One that most shows wouldn't attempt to do. The Mindy Project hasn't always been great in this story arc. But it also makes sure to keep the story as complicated as it deserves to be.

It's easy to be enthusiastic about the return of Danny in "The Lahiris and the Castellanos." His presence has been very missed over the last few episodes. But those episodes also gave Mindy the chance to find balance in her life where she could pursue all of her professional goals while still being a good mom to Leo. It took some time but she found that balance - with some help from Annette. But now, she has to readjust because Danny is home again. She is more than happy to delay all of those serious conversations because she is so happy that he is back. But she can only delay for so long. Her life has changed since he left. The plan that they agreed on before he went to California is no longer something she wants to do. That's a realization that Danny has to learn and come to accept. Mindy doesn't want to be a stay-at-home mom taking care of Leo. She has three jobs right now and she loves all of them. She's a fine OB/GYN and really has come into her own with her Later, Baby business. She doesn't want to give up any of that just because Danny is back and their lives can go back to being "normal."

Danny's point-of-view is much harsher and a little bit unflattering. But the show doesn't shy away from the complexities of those issues as well. He wants his son to have a family influence in his life. He doesn't want Leo to have the same childhood that he had. He won't because Danny and Mindy are very different parents than Annette was when Danny was growing up. And yet, it's still an important issue for Danny. He and Mindy had a plan. He would go away and she would work to support the family. But now, he's back and she no longer needs to do that. She can go back to caring for Leo full-time because that's what she loved doing. He doesn't know just how much Mindy loves working. He has always been supportive of her career in the past. But now with a baby in the picture, he wants to prioritize Leo's needs above Mindy's. That's understandable even though it creates tension in their relationship.

That tension simmers and simmers until it erupts at Mindy and Danny's engagement party. Now that Danny is back, they can finally start wedding planning. This party allows Mindy and Danny's parents to meet for the first time. That is a very hilarious prospect for an episode. The parents come from such different backgrounds. Mindy's parents come from money and have successful careers chasing their dreams. Annette is a working class mother who has struggled her entire life. She has the support of Dot and her two sons. But she is very different than Tarun and Sonu. Annette wants to have a say in Danny's wedding. She doesn't want Mindy's family to come in and make all of the decisions. She wants to be a part of this big moment in her son's life. That's where so much of the conflict in this story comes from.

In fact, the best part of this episode comes when Mindy and Danny sit down with their in-laws to talk about their issues. Mindy wants to assure Annette that she values her opinion. Mindy won't just listen to all the plans that her parents have for this wedding. She wants it to be her own thing. She won't have it Boston just because her parents like that city more. She also wants Annette to know that she is just as much her mother as Sonu is. She even feels comfortable calling her Ma now. For her part, Annette accepts and is proud of Mindy wanting to chase after her dreams even though it makes her family situation more complicated. It's something that she can realistically do. She's proud of her for that. Conversely, Danny's talk with Tarun points out just how resentful Sonu is because Tarun made her stop her career for a little bit to look after the children. Sonu is a lot of fun and has creative stories about her performance work. But she still holds onto the pain of this past decision - just like Mindy will if Danny forces her to put her life on hold for Leo.

It's that conversation that leads to Danny flying to Jody's alma mater to listen to Mindy's big Later, Baby presentation. He sees just how fantastic she has gotten at this. He is proud of her for what she is doing. And yet, he still just refers to this job as a "hobby." It's something that she can just keep doing on the weekends while taking care of Leo full time. It's in that moment where it's made apparent that Mindy and Danny still have a long way to go to understanding each other again. Danny has these big dreams of having more children and Mindy being able to raise them. Mindy is no longer sure if that's something that she wants. She was right to point out that Danny could just as easily quit his career in order to be with Leo as a full-time parent. But he brushes that suggestion off like it means nothing. He wants Mindy to make this incredible sacrifice. They aren't on the same page anymore. And yet, all Mindy does is smile and take it all in. She doesn't know how to bring up this delicate subject after they just reached an understanding. But she will need to if she wants to keep all of these things a part of her life.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Lahiris and the Castellanos" was written by Charlie Grandy and directed by Kate Dennis.
  • There wasn't enough Richie and Rishi in this big family reunion episode. They were given their jobs for the wedding. Plus, it was amusing when it was pointed out that Mindy really doesn't have any female friends.
  • Mindy hopes to be Tamra's weight and height by her wedding. That's a goal she might not be able to achieve. Though it's totally understandable that she would want to wear a crop top as her wedding dress.
  • Mindy and Jody's relationship this season has been somewhat erratic. But that final moment between the two on the airplane was pretty great.
  • Also, Jody running towards the door to get out of the awkward conversation with Mindy and Danny was hilarious.
  • It's great that Annette mentions Danny's previous marriage and how that informs her current actions. The majority of the time the show forgets that he was once married to Chloë Sevigny. It probably won't be mentioned again for awhile. But it was nice to see the show remember its own history.
  • Not a whole lot from the office crew this week - though it was funny when Jeremy mentions that no one comes to his events when he tells them too and Colette having nothing appropriate to wear to the party which everyone knows.
  • Mindy: "Does your mother have a problem with beautiful people?"