Tuesday, April 19, 2016

REVIEW: 'The Mindy Project' - Mindy's Attempt to Date Again is Very Awkward and Forced in '2 Fast 2 Serious'

Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 4.15 "2 Fast 2 Serious"

Mindy gets back into the dating scene and meets a good prospect (Ross Marquand). When he fast tracks their relationship, Tamra suggests something is up, and she and Mindy set off to figure out his deal.

Over the first two seasons of The Mindy Project, the main thrust of the series was Mindy going on a bunch of dates with attractive white guys hoping to find a rom-com romance. Throughout all of it though, it seemed pretty obvious that she wouldn't find that until she started dating Danny. So that ultimately meant the episodic date structure became very formulaic. Mindy would meet a cute new guy only for something bad to be revealed about him a few minutes later that destroys any chance of a relationship with Mindy. This formula changed immensely and with purpose when Mindy and Danny started dating. They changed each other. Mindy was finally living in a rom-com but Danny helped her realize she has more love and passion in this world than that previous goal for happiness. Meanwhile, Mindy opened Danny up to all the possibilities with family and love that he was resigned wouldn't happen for him after the destruction of his first marriage. They brought these qualities out of each other. And yet, that change forced them apart this season. So now, both of them are back to where they started the series. Danny is a jerk who's barely a part of the main story and Mindy's life while Mindy is going on dates looking for love.

The show makes that transition rather abruptly in "2 Fast 2 Serious." Mindy decided that things were over with Danny during the Christmas episode. But it still took her months to actually put that into action where the two only see each other in order to pass Leo off. They fell back into the familial pattern of sleeping with each other just last week. Mindy made the heartbreaking decision that they can't do that. They need to allow each other to explore the rest of the world of possibilities. So now, both of them are hitting the world as single parents. That's a massive change since the last time they were looking for love in this universe. And yet, that's such a very minor part of the story in this episode. Mindy finds herself on a new date immediately. She shows no hesitation to having to start over with dating as a single parent in her mid-thirties. That's such a strong disservice to the character. It seems like the show just wants to get back to the hijinks of Mindy going on dates while completely forgetting about how she has changed and matured as a character since dating Danny.

Even Mindy seems to forget about how much she has changed. She goes out on a date with Bryant - played by The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand. After a rocky start, she really begins to have a good time. As soon as she returns home, she suddenly remembers that she has a kid. It's a pretty blunt way to show that dating is more complicated for Mindy right now. But the discussion of how it's different because of Leo is such a minor part of the episode. Mindy asks her co-workers how she should bring up the fact that she has a son. Jody believes she can now only date other single parents while Jeremy suggests it may be difficult to find a guy who would want to raise a son. This discussion is important. Mindy needs to think about Leo. She can't just think about herself and what will give her momentary happiness. That's what she was able to do for the first two seasons. But it's not what she can do now. She needs to be concerned about Leo at all times. But this episode really isn't interested in that concern at all. It instead is more amused by the odd thing that is wrong with Bryant.

The show gets lost in the plotting of this episode. It's amused by itself and the situation it puts Mindy in. But it doesn't do anything to show the headspace Mindy is in right now in a fresh or original way. It's significant that Mindy is going on dates again. But instead, the show gets lost in the oddity of Bryant wanting to move very quickly with the relationship. He doesn't want to let her go even though he's being very inconsiderate during their first date. He's cool with her having a kid when she tells him on their second date. And then, he introduces her to his entire family at his brother's wedding for the third date. It's a simplification of the situation Mindy finds herself in. The episode tries to draw a parallel in Bryant not being over his last relationship with his ex-fiancé and the struggle Mindy is dealing with right now. And yet, it's a spectacular failure. The episode just wants to be funny but even the one-liners aren't as great as they usually are. It's important that Mindy is dating so soon after leaving Danny. But that doesn't shape this new relationship at all. Plus, it's all building to Mindy believing that her only romantic prospects now are weirdos because she's a single parent in her thirties. The episode doesn't so anything to justify why she believes that. It happens solely so that Mindy can break down a little bit in a room filled with dogs. That's it.

Plus, there is the very troubling development at the end of the episode that may be setting up a potential romance between Mindy and Jody. That is so completely unnecessary and forced. Why does Mindy have to have a romantic moment with all of her male co-workers? It makes no sense at all. Why can't she simply rely on Jody as the trusted partner he has been for his entire arc on the show? Her fertility practice has worked because of the support he has given her. That support could easily suggest feelings between the two. But the way that prospect is introduced here is very sloppy. That largely comes from the show not having a clue what to do with its B-story. Morgan and Colette are moving in together. She has to break the news to her brother. And then, they throw a house-warming party. But it's a story without a whole lot of substance to it. It just exists so that Jody can feel just as lonely about his life right now as Mindy is. It completely skips past the part where it's not healthy that the siblings are still living together at this stage of their lives. It again just wants to get to the comedic hijinks of the episode. Plus, it sets up a reality where Mindy and Jody might like each other in a romantic way. That's a forced way to end this episode and does nothing to establish the importance of that friendship or the romantic future of either characters. It's just too annoying and manipulative.

Some more thoughts:
  • "2 Fast 2 Serious" was written by Ike Barinholtz & David Stassen and directed by Ike Barinholtz.
  • It's also not apparent at all if this horrible time dating Bryant will force Mindy to refocus her energy onto her work again. This doesn't have to be a show about her constantly going on dates. The work stuff can be really interesting and exciting too.
  • Jody expressed concerns about Mindy going to a wedding with Bryant. But she should have noticed that something was seriously off when it turned out it was his brother's wedding, she showed up in the slideshow, his entire family knew about her, and she had to give a toast. And yet, she doesn't realize that until Tamra tells her so.
  • Tamra and Mindy also investigate Bryant's ex-fiancé and realize that he's only using Mindy to make Teresa jealous. That's apparent right away. And yet, it's fun seeing the two of them go undercover to get this information. Tamra is actually really good at it.
  • This half-season will probably need to prop up more of the characters from the office. That's essentially what happens with Morgan and Colette here. But it could be interesting to see Tamra or Jeremy get their own story.
  • Jeremy: "Hold on to him Mindy. Like a flagpole in a tornado."
  • Mindy: "How dare you. I have fallen off of several ships."
  • Mindy: "I'm not gonna be tased again. That can't be good for me long term."
  • Mindy: "How dare you be in your late 20s!"