In a few weeks, The Mindy Project will go on hiatus, where the show will reconfigure some things to make it a more successful show. What I’m starting to think makes The Mindy Project a show that needs to take the time to regroup and figure stuff out is the genre it relies on. The Mindy Project is very much a romantic comedy stretched into a sitcom. Now having a movie where a woman dates many wrong guys before finding “The One” can be delightful for half an hour, it seems like dragging it out for two seasons of more might be a problem here. However this formula can work just fine in episodes like “Christmas Party Sex Trap.”
Whenever Mindy Lahiri shows any interest in anyone other than Danny Castellano, the fact is the audience knows it won’t last. You can get all the great guest actors that you want, but we all know where the show is heading in terms of Mindy’s relationships, even before she does. “Christmas Party Sex Trap” is hopefully the direction the show will stay in once it comes back into the Fox rotation, as more than any episode, it hints strongly at the inevitable romance between Mindy and Danny.
Mindy’s latest crush is Cliff—played by Glenn Howerton—who is dating her neighbor and former enemy, Heather. However Cliff and Heather are fighting, so Mindy decides that Schulman & Associates will be throwing a building-wide Christmas party so she can sneak in and win over Cliff. She has a four-point plan, which Danny calls the titular Christmas Party Sex Trap, that involves ignoring Cliff, singing a sexy version of “Santa Baby” and sharing a perfect first kiss outside. Of course, none of this goes as planned, but the same end result is achieved—by evening’s end, she is locking lips with Cliff.
The Christmas party has also been made gluten- and alcohol-free, since Jeremy Reed is now slim again after going to fat camp and Peter Prentice is afraid to get drunk since last year he “made sex” to a Christmas tree. So the two decide to keep each other in check, but the plan goes haywire when Brendan brings his new girlfriend, Maria Menounos. Peter’s dream girl is Menounos, yet he can’t hit on her if he’s sober, and during her version of “Santa Baby,” Menounos puts some icing on Jeremy’s nose, which drives him to eat Danny’s Monticello gingerbread house. In the end though, Peter is able to drive Menounos after the party when her and Brendan break up since he is now sober and well, at least Jeremy got to eat half of a house before stopping.
But what makes “Christmas Party Sex Trap” one of the best episodes this season isn’t Mindy’s bra full of two bottles of wine or the taxidermists at the party, it’s the scenes between Mindy and Danny. This is really where the show always succeeds as the two are clearly getting closer to realizing they both want each other. Danny gets Mindy in the office Secret Santa, so since he doesn’t buy stupid things, he instead learns the dance to Aaliyah’s ‘Try Again”—since Mindy irritated Danny at the office with the song when she first started working there—and performs it for her. It’s a sweet moment, and it instantly becomes understood that Mindy likes him more than just as a friend, especially since she tries to get him to go outside with her in the location her four-step plan ends with Cliff. But in the end, Cliff arrives at the right time to steal Mindy away, delaying the inevitable until later.
The Mindy Project is certainly getting plenty of mileage out of the will-they-won’t-they of Mindy and Danny, but maybe the show should just put them together. When Jess and Nick finally hooked up on New Girl, the show was revitalized by new ideas and new character dynamics. This strong supporting cast dealing with such information, not to mention Danny and Mindy getting into the groove of a relationship together, could really boost this show into something great.
There’s only a few more episodes before The Mindy Project goes on hiatus, but if this is the direction the show is heading in, if it does move Danny and Mindy closer together, then maybe it doesn’t need to take a break after all.