The Mindy Project: “Danny and Mindy” Season 2 Finale Review

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The Mindy Project breaks a whole lot of narrative structure to get to the episode’s endgame, but I’m willing to let it all slide for being the perfect season 2 sendoff.

The season finale of The Mindy Project got me thinking a lot about romantic comedies. Well, okay, the show always has me thinking about romantic comedies, but this week I thought about them more than usual. It’s such a shame that so few of them are original and awe-inspiring, and so many of them are formulaic and underdeveloped. Plucky classics like When Harry Met Sally and The Wedding Singer only really come along once in a blue moon. We’re much more used to seeing films that are riddled with clichés, unintentionally laughable dialogue, and one-note characters that do little to advance the the stereotypes of today’s gender norms (looking at you The Other Woman). And yet…

And yet, there’s a reason we keep flocking back to the theater, even though we know what to expect. There’s a reason that studios keep churning out these films like mushy, overly sentimental butter. There’s a reason why, during the climax of the disappointingly bland He’s Just Not That Into You, I still wanted to see Ginnifer Goodwin’s Gigi get together with Justin Long’s Alex. True love often lets us look past one’s flaws, and I think deep down, under our hardened, cynical shells, most of us are still suckers for romance.

The same can be said about “Danny and Mindy,” an episode that, by most critical standards, shouldn’t have worked. The main plot revolves around Mindy eyeing a handsome stranger on the subway, then finding out he placed a missed connections-type ad in the paper for her. The two start up an email correspondence and decide to meet atop the Empire State Building–how very Meg Ryan of them.

Of course, there’s still the issue of Mindy’s relationship with Charlie, which is neatly dealt with in a brief scene where the two have a perfectly amicable split. How convenient! Then, there’s the other issue that–twist!–this mysterious stranger who’s been emailing Mindy is actually Danny trying to woo her back. Mindy doesn’t find out at first, leading to an incredibly cheesy montage with a voiceover by Danny that doesn’t really fit the tone of the show. The whole arc of their on-again-off-again relationship this season was hastily assembled, but I guess now he has to win her back before the show goes on hiatus for the summer. And yet…

And yet, the glimmers of hope we see in Danny’s eyes made me really believe in his love for Mindy. Credit goes to both Kaling and Chris Messina, who turned in excellent performances this week. One of my favorite moments arrived when Mindy finally finds out the truth, and engages in a heated argument with Danny. “I love you!” he shouts. “You love me, until you don’t!” she shouts back. It’s pretty simple dialogue, but it totally works. In that moment, I forgot about how quickly their relationship was dealt with. These were people who had been through heartbreak.

There’s also the matter of the episode’s humor, which is much more fine-tuned than many of the rom-coms Mindy loves to watch. Morgan, Tamra, and Peter provide some excellently timed one-liners. Even Beverly surprisingly joins in on the fun when she announces that she was the inspiration for the prostitute in The Catcher in the Rye. I like that it took Mindy’s co-workers to convince her that Danny was right for her. It really speaks to what this show can do when it fully utilizes its ensemble cast.

Of course, the real treat was getting to watch The Mindy Project take it’s biggest rom-com cliché yet–the romantic rush to meet up–and turn it on its head. Mindy is forced to take the stairs up the Empire State Building, causing her to collapse at the top. Danny, for his part, rushes through the streets…and ends up getting hit by a car. The two finally meet, bruised and out of breath, and it’s anything but glamorous.

Still, it was hard not to feel the love when Danny laid down beside Mindy and told her he wanted to go “all in.” Then, just in case you thought the episode was getting a little too mushy, Mindy appeared to think he was propositioning her, and responded with, “Really? Out here, in front of all these people? Well…okay….” This may have been one of the season’s more emotional episodes, but it was still very Mindy.

So, while I think this show can be much smarter when it wants to be, it’s easy to forgive the unrealistic leaps and hurdles made to bring Mindy and Danny back together. In the end, all anyone really wants to see is two people–one lying down on the floor from exhaustion–admitting that they love each other. We love you guys too. Grade: B+

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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