In the beginning, The Mindy Project seemed like an average episodic series, following the life of Mindy as she works her butt off as a great OBGYN and searches for “Mr. Right.” One of my favorite things about Mindy Lahiri was her season one drive: she wanted to be taken seriously and given more responsibility in the office– and she deserved it!
Overtime, however, the show moved away from a workplace comedy, and towards a more serialized format about the characters. With the relationships of Mindy blossoming, we spend more time in her apartment than in her office. At first, I didn’t mind this at all. Episodes about teaching teenagers about safe sex and dealing with patients were fun, but I didn’t mind the evolutions of Mindy’s relationships.
Their was a major shift in episode format when the show moved to Hulu, but even before that, the shows focus changed. Mindy and Danny’s relationship became the forefront of the show after their first kiss. There was tension between the two since the beginning, but the kiss on the airplane and the romantic montage afterwards. Even the writers admitted, “they were worried to make Mindy and Danny a couple too early on in the show, because once you’re in, you’re in.”
And by season 3, we were in. But maybe we were too far in? The show had become too much about Mindy and Danny in Season 3. We meet Danny’s mom and her friend Dot. We also see a lot more of Peter, as he helps Mindy navigate her relationship with Danny. Even the season premiere episode title, “We’re a Couple Now, Haters,” emphasizes how the show became split into (1) Mindy & Danny and (2) everything else.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved the Mindy & Danny relationship. It was funny and quirky and the feelings had been developed from coworkers to friends first (which I think is vitally important to sitcom relationships). The problem with this focus change, however, was the unforeseen loss of both Danny and Peter as main characters.
Jeremy had been pushed to the sidelines overtime (making a recovery this latest season), the show never wanted to give me as much Morgan as I wanted, and familiar faces like the midwives and Mindy’s girl friends basically disappeared.
What we were left with: a formula for downfall.
Suddenly, Danny and Peter were given short bursts of airtime, with flashy storylines that aren’t fleshed out because they simply aren’t given enough time. Danny’s getting married again?! Peter’s having a baby!? But no follow up…
Without Peter, the show could have survived, but without Danny, it began to unwind. Now, I don’t believe the show became hopeless without Danny (on the contrary, I wouldn’t mind Morgan or Jeremy getting more airtime). The real problem arose when the show decided to go all-in on Mindy.
The ratings had been in decline, but Mindy seized the opportunity on Hulu to explore the show’s possibilities even more. The problem with this, however, was too much Mindy. “Blasphemy!” You may be thinking, “There’s no such thing as too much Mindy!”
But hear me out:
I could have been on board with even more Mindy, but the episodes were so Mindy heavy without having anyone to balance her out (a position formerly held by Danny). Regardless of romantic relationships, Danny and Peter were always grounding Mindy.
Suddenly, it was easier to see Mindy’s flaws. She was selfish, always asking for forgiveness, but hardly ever changing from episode to episode. The departure of Danny & Peter left a huge hole in the show that had to be filled! Luckily, the show had Morgan, Jeremy, Tamra, and Beverly to explore.
Sadly, the hole wasn’t filled by the adorable cast that had already been developed over the seasons. Instead, new characters seemed to be constantly introduced. But I missed Jeremy’s binge eating, Peter’s inappropriate jokes, and the drama between Morgan and Tamra. The Mindy Project had a cast to build around, but the show (in the last season and a half) tried going too many different directions, stretching itself too thin.
There was so much going on, I have trouble remembering when season 4 began and ended. From a Joseph Gordon Levitt appearance, in which Mindy & Danny finally decide to marry–> to a drama filled Jody versus Danny season finale. Doesn’t that seem a life time ago? Because it does to me. There was too much going on. And it’s understandable! Casting changes can suck, but the show hadn’t put enough stock overtime into the other characters to compensate for the loss of Danny and Peter.
Even with Mindy and Danny breaking up, I think that would have been okay (maybe even great! breaking romance stereotypes) to keep him on the show. But when no long-term Danny storyline could be sustained, it left the writers scrambling to find other characters and plots to follow.
So what’s the end game now? I’m not sure.
In the end scene for the season 5 finale, Mindy looks unsure about the future, raising many questions. Did she propose because of Ben’s daughter or because she really wants to marry Ben?
With the news of the series wrapping up in the fall, I’m very skeptical going forward. In shows like The Office and Parks & Rec, both Michael Scott and Leslie Knope have time to mature and prepare themselves for a successful relationship overtime. Michael meets Holly in season 4, but they don’t get engaged until season 7. That’s not to say people can’t fall in love right away and get happily married, but I think Mindy still has a lot of self-exploration and growth to do!
When the show brought back Casey and BJ’s character, I thought it was a great opportunity for Mindy to really grow; to reevaluate her life and make some empowering changes. And she did a little bit, but through a groundhog’s day episode. Granted, I thought it was enjoyable and funny, but come on Mindy! She’s a grown woman with two successful jobs and a son; she should be able to grow without a groundhog’s day!
Considering there may only be a few episodes to wrap it up, I’m skeptical about how much Mindy can truly grow and figure out her own desires. I’m honestly not sure how things will turn out, but I think Mindy has a lot of progress to make before happily ever after.
What do you think? Are you pro Mindy & Ben? Any chance of a former lover coming back? Can Jeremy please be happy? Any other thoughts? I’d love to know!