Since The Mindy Project began, it’s been hard to believe the central character, Mindy Lahiri, is a functioning adult in society. Mindy is self-centered and immature, often acting like a petulant teenager instead of a doctor. By surrounding Mindy with high school students in “Teen Patient,” Mindy suddenly seemed like the mature one.
Mindy still thinks her teen neighbor Sophia (guest star Kara Crane) is playing with American Girl dolls, but the 15-year-old comes to Mindy wanting birth control. This horrifies Mindy. “You’re way too young for birth control. You should be like drawing on the sidewalk with chalk,” she tells her. The plot line gave the comedy the strongest episode of its freshman season.
Mindy decides she must go to Sophia’s high school and meet her boyfriend Henry (Alec George). In the high school scenes, the show thrived. Mindy meets Sophia’s fabulously gay friend Ben. “Your shoes are insane and your top is out of control. Can you be my doctor?” Ben says. Mindy interviews Henry and is not pleased with his answers. Henry’s plan is to skip college and create an app that will get him all the money he will ever need. He laughs when Mind says the word “gynecologist” “If I wanted to be questioned by some weird old lady, I’d go home and talk to my stepmom,” he says.
The show’s physical comedy hasn’t always worked, but the sight gag of Mindy trying to sit in a bean bag chair was hilarious. And the recurring joke that all the students were obsessed with slime—a sticky, neon green substance—was an authentic peek into the adolescent mindset. It’s moments like this that really demonstrate the show’s potential.
The episode also explored the larger theme of commitment. Mindy’s boyfriend Josh balks when Sophia asks if he and Mindy will be together forever. “It’s a nice idea but I don’t know if I can stay with one person for the rest of my life,” Josh says.
While the Mindy story arc was stronger than usual, many aspects of the show continued not to work. Once again, Mindy talked to Gwen on the phone in Anna Camp’s one scene. The show awkwardly trying to fit Gwen into each episode has been its weakest aspect. At least now viewers can take comfort in the fact that Anna Camp has been bumped down to a recurring character. Hopefully, going forward, Gwen will only appear in an episode when it truly makes sense.
While Mindy spent another day doing absolutely no work, Danny investigated an anonymous complaint that Morgan was ogling Shauna’s breasts. But it wasn’t Shauna who made the complaint; it was Betsy. She wants men to desire her like they desire Shauna. Danny uncomfortably tries to assure Betsy that she is sexy. The whole B storyline didn’t work. The show would be wise to make Betsy less whiny—last week she whined to Jeremy (who was absent from this episode) and now she seems to be working her way through the rest of the office. The series chose to let go of Amanda Setton’s Shauna and keep Zoe Jarman’s Betsy, so they need to figure out a way to make Betsy funny.
By the end of the episode Mindy is lecturing Sophia and her friends in a funny speech about how teens are obsessed with forever. “I’ll tell you one thing that always lasts forever—herpes,” she says before giving each one of them a condom (two to the girl who looks like trouble). As she’s leaving the high school, Mindy tells Ben “You are such a special kid and I want to let you know it gets better.” “How could it?” he responds while winking at the school’s football player. Ben is a character I would love to see again.
Josh and Mindy both admit that it is scary to enter the next phase of their relationship. And much to my surprise, I really like the Josh character, and that’s mostly due to Tommy Dewey’s charming and droll performance. The man can make a line about a shower caddy funny.
The Mindy Project is still trying to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up—a workplace comedy, a romantic comedy, a friendship comedy, maybe all of the above? Until it solidly decides what direction it wants to go in, the show will continue to struggle.