A TV show lives or dies by its characters. Either viewers buy into the characters’ lives and predicaments or they don’t. The most dramatic plot or the funniest dialogue won’t work if we don’t believe in the characters.
And this is a problem that has plagued The Mindy Project since its inception—the characters change week to week to suit whatever storyline the show is trying to tell. Up until now, Danny has been, as he so aptly put it, “the only normal thing happening” on the show. Suddenly, in “Danny’s Friend,” he’s giving away Vicodin to his childhood pal? And it’s not until Jeremy and Mindy confront him that he realizes that maybe what he’s doing is illegal and is prescription fraud? It simply doesn’t track. As spotty as Danny’s character development has been, I at least believed he was a stand-up doctor who fell on the right side of the law.
But it suited the plot to have Danny suddenly have a childhood friend he would do anything for. The bigger problem was, of course, that the storyline wasn’t particularly funny. Except for the blond hair, Steve (guest star Bill Tangradi) embodied every stereotype about Italian-Americans and Staten Island to few laughs. It wasn’t Tangradi’s fault, of course. Blame the script.
And is there anything to say about Ellie Kemper’s return as Josh’s ex-girlfriend Heather? In real life Kemper and Kaling are friends, and clearly Kaling loves working with Kemper. But it really seemed that Heather was brought back so she and Mindy could get into another, once again not funny, food-laden cat fight. Or perhaps it’s to remind viewers about Josh since Tommy Dewey will return to the show on April 9.
The really tough thing about this episode is there were moments of true comic inspiration. That’s the thing about The Mindy Project—I keep watching hoping to see the show it has the potential to be. Mindy thinking the pie Heather baked for her was a “poop pie” made me laugh out loud. As did Mindy blaming drugs for Danny not being able to keep up with normal TV shows. But we are almost to the end of the show’s first season and it still hasn’t found its comic footing. At what point does the goodwill most people have towards Kaling run out?
Other thoughts on “Danny’s Friend”:
• Seriously how long is Maggie going to be in a wheelchair?
• Danny saying the Statue of Liberty looks like Tilda Swinton was quite prescient considering Swinton is now appearing in an exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art where she sleeps in a glass box.
• Morgan is already annoying. I don’t even have a word to describe how I felt about Morgan throwing up throughout the entire episode. Why does The Mindy Project think Morgan is such a great character?
• I hope the show doesn’t completely abandon the burgeoning romance between Alex and Danny that started in the last episode.
• The percentage of male TV characters who were fat as children is unreasonably high.