Tuesday, April 12, 2016

REVIEW: 'The Mindy Project' - Time Moves Forward as Mindy and Danny Drift Further Apart in 'Will They or Won't They'

Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 4.14 "Will They or Won't They"

Mindy and Jody host a group of wild college girls in town for spring break to get their eggs frozen. When Mindy gets distracted by a romantic night with Danny, the girls wreak havoc on New York City. Meanwhile, one of the girls has a crush on Jody and isn't afraid to act on it.

A lot of big moments have happened on this season of The Mindy Project. The show has been pretty unflinching with its approach to relationships changing over time due to pressures from work and at home. The opening montage of "Will They or Won't They" does a phenomenal job recapping everything that has happened over the last year with Mindy and Danny. There has been so much happiness and joy in their lives as of late. Danny proposed to Mindy and she gave birth to their son, Leo. Those were life-changing moments that made their lives better. And yet, their lives have been pretty difficult as well because they haven't been communicating as well as they have in the past. Mindy and Danny have grown apart from one another. And now, that has built to the two of them deciding to separate.

The midseason return shows that Mindy and Danny choose to stick with their relationship for a little while after the events of the Christmas episode. They want this family to work so much. They have found so much happiness with each other. Their lives would be lost without each other in them. And yet, they have grown distant. The only thing they can seem to agree on is Leo. They both love him with every fiber of their being. But that's not enough to make a lasting and happy relationship. They've changed as people. Danny has been pushing for more kids while Mindy has wanted to focus on her growing fertility practice. She has so many more exciting things in her life than just being a girlfriend and a mother. She's great at both but she wants to work as well. It's a fight that has put so much tension in their relationship. And now, they're trying their best with a separation.

Of course, the separation is also a really complicated dynamic. They still see each other frequently because of Leo. They are completely on the same page with him. They want to do whatever is best for him. They have no arguments about his well-being. They are more than capable of sharing custody and being really great parental influences - though Mindy is convinced Leo is starting to take more after Danny. And yet, this episode also very deliberately pushes Mindy and Danny apart in more ways than one. It has also been a complicated relationship because they worked and lived together. But now, Danny has decided to leave the practice. It's never really mentioned what he's doing with his life outside of the office now. It shows that he really was capable of staying at home and caring for Leo while Mindy worked. But this move came out of limiting contact between Mindy and Danny and not doing what was best for their family.

The love is still there between Mindy and Danny. It's easy for them to fall back into old and familiar routines when they interact with each other. All Danny has to do is be cooking a lasagna when Mindy is dropping off Leo to get her into his apartment again. One thing leads to another and the two of them are quickly having sex again. That was never the issue in their relationship. Both of them enjoy sex a lot and enjoy spending time with each other. Mindy believes that this arrangement is healthy. It's not. It only forces her to realize that she's falling back in love with him even though the situation hasn't changed at all. They are just in completely different places in their lives right now. Danny is able to distract her from her work responsibilities the first time they have sex. But work is still important to her and needs her focus right now as "Later Baby" is really taking off. So that ultimately means that Mindy pushes Danny further away in saying that they should only see each other when it's absolutely necessary and that's it. It's emotionally devastating all over again. It may be the best for the relationship in the future. But it's still so painful now because of how much they still mean to each other.

All of this likely means that the show will be spending even more time at the office. That's fine. The hijinks have always been amusing even though the character development still needs a lot of work. Here, that presents itself as a story of college girls spending their spring break in New York City to get their eggs frozen by Mindy and Jody. It's the next step in their outreach program to colleges across the country. They made a successful team in getting their message out there. But now, they actually have to use their medical skills in action with these girls. Frankly, the college girls are stereotypical tropes without a whole lot of fresh perspective or funny material. They still thought this experience would be like ever either spring break adventure. It's not. It's one that features a trip to see Broadway's Hamilton. But that's about as fun as it gets. It's amusing when the story goes off into tangents - like Jody resisting the urge to sleep with the college girls, Tamra realizing she's not as young and hip as she used to be, and Morgan trying to find Seth Meyers' beloved dog after the girls "leased" him. But it's still fundamentally a story about Mindy being very good at her job and being able to connect with these young women in a very personal way. She's the only one who can help Chloe move on from her crush on Jody. It's largely a scene about Mindy needing to move on from Danny as well. But it's still thematically rich material that suggests some interesting things for the future.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Will They or Won't They" was written by Mindy Kaling & Matt Warburton and directed by Michael Spiller.
  • Seth Meyers previously appeared on this show back in the early days of Season 1 as a brief love interest for Mindy. But here, he's playing himself as the host of Late Night and a way to show the importance of the chaos Mindy's patients have brought to New York. Plus, he gets a couple of funny lines too.
  • Morgan even gets to appear on Late Night after he successfully finds Seth's dog. He has a lot of fun while walking out to do the interview but ultimately doesn't have anything to say. Plus, he quickly embarrasses himself as well.
  • Are we really suppose to believe that Mindy - who is obsessed about many things in pop culture - would not know any songs from Hamilton if she didn't see the play? That just seems too weird.
  • Because Mindy, Jody and Morgan are distracted by other things, it's up to Jeremy to keep the rest of the college girls entertained for the week. I wouldn't have minded seeing more of his interactions with them. He was able to connect with them over the week and it was largely played as a joke in the end.
  • There are also some great cameo appearances in that opening montage as everyone adjusts to Mindy and Danny's separation - Peter returns to help Mindy decorate her nursery, Annette and Dot cut Mindy out of pictures, the Deslaurier brothers console Mindy in the elevator, etc.
  • Mindy: "Don't scare me like that. You know my doctor says I have the heart of an 80-year-old coal miner."