One of the biggest problems with The Mindy Project is the incredibly talented guest stars the show can gather and how they can often by misused in disappointing ways. “Mindy Lahiri Is a Racist” has so many guest stars, it showcases The Mindy Project’s ability to use guests to great effect and completely misuse them in one of the show’s most enjoyable episodes this season.
Not surprisingly, the best use of guest characters comes in the main plot of the episode, as the show has never quite made their secondary story lines work as well as they should be. After a rave review in a racist mommy blog, whitemommy.com (not an actual site, thankfully), Schulman and Associates are facing accusations that they are also racist. The midwife brothers Brendan and Duncan are leading the charge after the Schulman offices refuse to back their political candidate of choice, Tracy Whitfield.
Brendan and Duncan are by far my favorite supporting guest characters on The Mindy Project. Mark Duplass as Brendan is just right at combining smugness and genuine likability, while Jay Duplass’ mostly silent reactions as Duncan have cracked me up on more than one occasion.
Schulman and Associates hire Priscilla Lane—played by Jenna Elfman—to provide media training for the team. She assigns Mindy and Tamra to write a release explaining how much they like working with the company. While doing this over dinner, Tamra’s boyfriend Ray-Ron—Josh Peck, basically recreating his characters from The Wackness—shows up, to which Mindy states that Tamra could do better, leaving Tamra the next day to join the side of the midwives.
While Peck is great as Ray-Ron, Elfman is completely underused. After some training with Danny, the two have sex and that’s basically it for her. Unless she is a recurring character, which doesn’t seem likely, there’s no real reason for the show to have used Elfman in this part.
Just as poorly handled is Glenn Howerton’s Cliff. It’s great to see that the show is continuing it’s story from last week, as Mindy is still mad at Morgan for sexting with Cliff with her phone and pretending to be her. Morgan tries to patch things up with Cliff and ends up getting him punched in the face instead. This whole segment really goes nowhere, and Mindy seems to care so little about it, she hardly reacts to it at all.
Trying to find his way into the main group of doctors, Peter suggests that the group use a recent surplus of revenue to create a mobile clinic out of one of an old party bus belonging to one of his bros. But since he’s just a junior partner, he doesn’t receive as much consideration as the senior partners. He’s tired of being the CPP (captain of the party patrol) and wants to start being IBD (involved in business decisions). It’s almost as if Adam Pally himself is struggling to crawl out of the mire of supporting characters who have gone nowhere and into the big leagues.
That being said, “Mindy Lahiri Is A Racist” is one of the more enjoyable episodes of The Mindy Project’s second season. The episode directly comments on The Mindy Project criticism that Mindy only dates white men and has quite a bit of fun with the Duplass brothers. It just feels like The Mindy Project tries to throw so many characters and plot lines into each episode that it can’t make all of them work in a satisfying way. It’s a shame considering the amazing talent the show can conjure up. If The Mindy Project could concentrate its efforts better, rather than throwing so much out and seeing what sticks, episodes like this would be much stronger and the show in general would be better for it.