This week’s episode is all about the messes we make, be they financial or personal.
The episode starts on a couple’s spat over space. Mindy would like to keep some of her stuff at Danny’s. They’ve been dating for five months now and they are spending almost every night together, so the request seems reasonable. Danny, however, wants things organized and feels he has no room for items like her toothbrush in his home.
So, what is Danny’s home full of? His place is populated with furniture from the Restoration Hardware catalogue and an ugly blue chair that used to be at Yankee Stadium.
Danny says that, next to Mindy, “This chair is the most valuable thing I own.” Because he owns Mindy? I get that this is a comedy and so people have to say funny, off-beat things, but if we are going to make such a dark joke about possessive boyfriends, Mindy’s response should probably be to break up with Danny so as not to glamourize abusive relationships.
Even after her pleading, the fact that Danny is possessive of Mindy does not make him want to give her storage space in his apartment. Instead, he “loans” her a wheelie suitcase in which to cart her things around the city. In this equation, wheelie suitcases equal love?
At work, things are going little better for Mindy. You see, the IRS is angry because she has not paid her taxes in, oh, six years? This part was actually great. It’s an interesting commentary on how sitcom characters seem to have endless disposable income to the point where it almost seems like they must be doing something illegal.
Well, Mindy is doing something illegal. She’s a tax evader. That’s why she has so many designer purses and can afford to spend thousands of dollars on emojis.
In order to address the tax evasion issue, Mindy has to go back to her tax attorney for help. The problem is that he’s Cliff, the guy she cheated on with Danny! Cliff, still smarting from Mindy’s betrayal, refuses to help Mindy, because why should he help her make everything in her life perfect when she hurt him so profoundly?
Because she’s in a jam, Mindy decides to pretend Danny cheated and dumped her to make herself look sympathetic. So Mindy and Danny pretend to be broken up in order to make her lawyer do his job.
The problem is that it turns out Cliff still has feelings for Mindy. He wants her back. Mindy takes Cliff up on his dinner date but of course she doesn’t tell Danny about this detail. She’s pretty certain that would put possessive Danny over the jealousy edge.
At dinner with Cliff, a bombshell is dropped. Cliff has obviously figured out that Mindy and Danny are still a going concern. Because Cliff clearly wants revenge on Danny, he mentions that Danny is in fact still legally married.
Understandably, Mindy goes straight home to confront Danny, who admits it. Aha! The man whose home is perfectly décor-organized and who can’t believe Mindy doesn’t pay her taxes is not as together as he seems – he never got around to ending his marriage!
In the end, in what I suppose is meant to be a show of commitment, Danny gives Cliff his Yankees stadium chair in exchange for his lawyerly advice to finalize his divorce. It’s a symbolic sacrifice, I guess, but the whole time I thought, why not just get a lawyer who works for cash monies instead of chairs, Danny?
In the end, The Mindy Project is trying to sell the idea that Danny’s one grand gesture of bartering a chair to get divorced redeems him. I’m sorry, but the message still offends me.
In season 1 of The Mindy Project, Mindy was a woman I wanted to be. She was a serious professional who was good at her job while having a great sense of humour about her love life. Sure, she’d get drunk at a wedding and fall in a pool, but the next day she’d go laugh about it with her girlfriends before delivering a breach baby. She was confident in her own fabulousness and never apologized for being flawed.
When her friend Gwen called her a mess because she couldn’t get her dating life together, Mindy just replied, “Well I’m a hot mess.” Mindy was a sort of fun feminist hero to me, but Danny is seriously cramping her style.
The Mindy Project used to be a show that defied social convention and illustrated how being single in your 30s can be absolutely awesome. While interested in finding love, Mindy never seemed to settle for something subpar. She liked herself enough to kick bad boyfriends to the curb. Now, Mindy seems so desperate to settle down that she’s with a guy who lied to his mom about her very existence, won’t let her keep clothes at his apartment, and who somehow still thinks she’s his property.
The Mindy Project, while it used to be masterful, is now selling a dangerous version of heterosexuality; its message is for women to find any man, no matter how surly, hypocritical and borderline abusive, then stick with him in the hopes of getting married.
The Mindy Project is meant to be a romantic comedy, but there is nothing romantic about that vision. I know Mindy Kaling is a Goddess, but I wish she’d use those godly powers to rescue her show from this troubling message.