Well, The Mindy Project probably didn’t make any friends within the midwife community last night.
In “Two to One,” Stephen Tobolowsky’s Dr. Schulman retires, marking probably the last time we’ll see the underutilized Tobolowsky as the show continues to retool. Mindy, Danny and Jeremy learn that the Downtown Women’s Holistic Birth Center, which has rented the space above their offices, is stealing all their patients. Real-life brothers and producing partners Mark and Jay Duplass began their extended guest-star stint as Brendan and Duncan, brothers who are also midwives. Mark Duplass is known to viewers for his role on The League, but the episode was Jay Duplass’ acting debut.
According to The Mindy Project midwives are “quacks” and “weird half-doctors,” and patients are “extremely stupid” to go to one. In theory, I like the idea of showing Mindy at work with actual patients and uniting Mindy, Danny and Jeremy against a common enemy. But it seemed odd to me that the show would so blatantly attack an entire profession and, by extension, the women who chose to see a midwife. Does the medical community really have such disdain for midwives? I don’t think so.
The episode also highlighted a continuing problem—the freshman comedy is all over the place. With Dr. Schulman gone, Jeremy and Danny begin to out-vote Mindy on every decision. She wants to turn Schulman’s office into a prenatal patient resource center; they want to make it storage. She thinks they should call all the patients who are leaving; they want to email them an offer of discounted co-pay. So Mindy decides to take her day off from work and spend time with her girlfriends. That’s when the show switches into Sex and the City mode as Mindy, Gwen and Alex (guest star Kelen Coleman of The Newsroom) have lunch and gossip over several glasses of wine and attend a sample sale where there’s a predictable throw-down over a skirt. It must be some sort of rule that if a TV show features female characters attending a sample sale, there will be a fight.
Once Mindy gets word that her own patients are switching practices, she tears back into the office and confronts the midwives. She reminds her patients that if something goes wrong during their delivery “no amount of breathing techniques and scented oils are going to help you.” While this is true, again, there’s not a lot of humor to be mined by disregarding an entire, well-respected vocation. The storyline may have worked better if it had been another medical practice pilfering patients.
The Duplass brothers will be on for at least seven episodes, and Brendan and Mindy shared a flirtatious moment, which makes me think the show is setting up a potential romance between the pair. As long as we don’t lose Josh, the one character who—much to my surprise—is truly working, I’m OK with that.
The two scenes that worked the best were the cold opening at the top of the episode (which has consistently been the home of the series’ strongest moments) and the tag at the end (which featured my new best friend Josh). Everything in between was kind of a mess. It’s getting increasingly difficult to figure out how The Mindy Project can sort itself out and become a successful series. Each week it feels as if the writers are throwing everything into a script to see what might stick. The result is a disjointed half-hour with not nearly enough laughs.