It happened again.
I liked The Mindy Project. By returning to its romantic comedy roots, which was what the pilot of the show was all about, the freshman comedy is thriving.
In “Harry & Mindy,” Mindy (Mindy Kaling) continues to date Jaime (returning guest star B.J. Novak) despite lingering concerns that he’s actually in love with his best friend Lucy (returning guest star Eva Amurri Martino). Mindy is delighted that she and Jaime will spend Valentine’s Day together. And she takes it upon herself to set up Lucy with Danny, who had his heart broken in last week’s episode.
Danny and Lucy hit it off a little too well, and Jaime acts jealous. He swears to Mindy that he only loves Lucy like a sister. “I have a brother, and if Rishi looked at me like that I’d have to talk to our dad,” she tells him. Mindy recognizes what Jaime can’t—that he’s in love with Lucy. When Mindy asks Jaime who is the last person he would want to see if he were about to be put to death, he realizes it’s Lucy. A hilarious sequence follows with Jaime realizing he’s exuberantly in love (“I am a man in love,” he shouts and she jumps up and down the street) and he has Mindy to thank for this revelation. “I’m like the Joan Cusack character in the romantic comedy of your life,” she tells him.
The whole storyline worked. It made me laugh out loud, and it hit on a familiar situation of the dating world. It also tapped into the idea that Mindy is a hopeless romantic—she believes the Empire State Building is the most romantic building in the world because that’s what the movies have told her. Plus Mindy didn’t seem like an idiot. She realized what was going on. The only downside is that Novak really seemed to bring out the best in Kaling, and Lucy and Jaime were nice additions to the show. I don’t want this to be the last viewers see of them. I hope The Mindy Project can figure out a way to work them into future episodes.
The episode also strengthened the relationship between Danny (Chris Messina) and Mindy. I particularly liked at the end of the episode when he took her to the pizza place that was special to him and his ex-wife. Danny is turning out to be one of the show’s most interesting characters.
So that’s the good news about the episode. Let’s talk about the bad news. Zoe Jarman’s Betsy survived the cast purge that said goodbye to Shauna (Amanda Sutton) and Gwen (Anna Camp). But the show still doesn’t seem to know what to do with her. And Jeremy (Ed Weeks) and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) remain really one-dimensional characters. Jeremy’s a womanizer. Morgan is super strange. Putting them together for the night’s secondary plotline didn’t work.
My other concern is that the show has flourished in these last two episodes—both of which didn’t take place at work. Not sure how well that works with the fact that all the remaining characters are from Mindy’s work.
Other thoughts on “Harry & Mindy”:
• Didn’t miss Mark Duplass’ Brendan at all. At all.
• I loathed the cold open. Any time the show makes Mindy seem like a complete idiot, I’m not a fan—even if the scene did feature Common as the Empire State Building security guard.
• This quote: “To show my gratitude for this kindness, you can choose any city of Real Housewives to watch,” says Mindy to Danny. Danny replies “Miami.” The show is great when it gets the pop culture zeitgeist right.
• Seriously, I would watch a spin-off with Jaime and Lucy.