The Mindy Project
Episode 6: Thanksgiving
Episode 7: Teen Patient
By: Carlos Uribe
The Mindy Project is about an OB/GYN named Mindy.
This is the first Thanksgiving episode that The Mindy Project has decided to do and it opens with a hilarious scene where Josh had cooked some disgusting food for Mindy. The conversation manages to become about whether or not their relationship is exclusive or not. Josh is reluctant to answer as he's not willing to give an answer until after his trip. This refusal to answer drives Mindy through the rest of the episode. When she shows up at Gwen's house, she discovers that Danny is at the house. Morgan had previously given her the reminder that since Josh can sleep with other women then Mindy can sleep with other men. Mindy flirts with Danny until she meets his current Indian girlfriend. This makes her jealous and leads to an argument between Mindy and Gwen. The fight convinces Mindy to act more like a mess and she tries her best to seduce Danny. This leads to a literal fight between Mindy and Gwen before Josh calls from a strip club. He's been offered to have sex with two females but he turned them down because he actually does want to be exclusive with Mindy. That this Thanksgiving episode is really about Mindy's dating life makes sense since every episode has basically touched on that to some degree. It just that it would have been nicer if the series had decided to lay her romantic life on the backburner for a bit.
This is because this is the first episode where Gwen actually has a role in the episode. Most episodes she's just there to provide Mindy some support for a single scene. In this one, Mindy goes to Gwen's house to spend Thanksgiving with her and her family. This would have been a perfect time for their to be conflict between the two so we can learn more about how they value their friendship. It is true that they have a disagreement before having a literal fight but that's over Mindy's dating life rather than anything that is actually between them. That the series felt the need to completely concentrate their interactions on Mindy's current relationship ensured that the friendship between Mindy and Gwen wasn't properly developed. This probably explains why the series going to be demoting Gwen down to a recurring capacity. The show has never been properly to utilize her in this episode and it couldn't even develop her relationship with Gwen in an episode where she was featured more prominently. This isn't even the fault of the character but rather because the show kept the focus on Mindy's relationship with Josh.
While this all going on, there was also a sub-plot involving Jeremy and Betsy. Jeremy is spending Thanksgiving with Betsy' family. He legitimately seems to enjoy their presence but Betsy is annoyed because they treat her like a child. It's completely relatable but the major problem of this story is that it simply isn't very funny. There were a couple of good moments but they were too far and between to properly make it entertaining. The entire plot is resolved when Jeremy goes into Betsy's room and tells her to suck it up. She only has to deal with them whenever she visits home. He also relays a story about how he was never treated as a child even when he was one. He had to tell his mother that his father was going to divorce her, albeit she did take the news rather well. This story makes Betsy realize that her anger towards being treated like a kid is childish in itself and she allows herself to have a good time. This entire sub-plot did reveal new parts about the characters but it simply felt too separated from the actual series for it to really work.
Thanksgiving was an episode that suffered because it couldn't let go of Mindy's romantic problems when it should have been spending time developing the bond between Mindy and Gwen. The sub-plot between Jeremy and Betsy was a bust while Castellano's appearance on the show was a complete humor vacuum as he had nothing but a mouse to bounce off of. This is a show that works best when characters are able to interact because that's where most of the wit appears. Thanksgiving is the first weak episode of the Mindy Project and the primary reason is it's stubborn insistence on making it about Mindy's boyfriend problems.
If Thanksgiving's problem is that the show can't shut up about Mindy's dating life, then Teen Patient is basically killed by it. Why? It's because this episode has a pretty flimsy premise. It all of a sudden introduces a high school girl that's really close to Mindy for some reason. The show throws the viewer into this relationship between the two without establishing what exactly they are. Is Mindy a mentor or a relative of some kind? Why is Mindy being really good friends with this young girl? This teenager decides that it's time for her to have sex and so she goes to Mindy to have some birth control. This freaks Mindy out because she thinks this girl is too young. Once again, I'm confused by their relationship. Mindy decides that she'll only help the girl out if she meets the boy that she wants to sleep with. This involves going to the high school and at this moment my brain realized this episode was just plain stupid. It's not like this episode is even revealing anything new about Mindy. Anyways, Mindy meets the girl's boyfriend but she doesn't approve right away. The girl gets angry until Mindy agrees to let the girl question Josh during their lunch date. At this point, I still have no idea why this plot even exists in the first place simply because the show never properly bothered to establish why Mindy is so close this girl.
It's at this point that the show becomes more about Mindy and her dating life. During the time that the girl interviews Josh, she brings up the idea of them being together forever. Josh balks at the idea and this creates a relationship crisis for Mindy. She's always dreamed that she'll meet the right guy, get married, and grow old together. Now she's met a guy that she really likes but he's not even interested in marriage. It isn't until Gwen tells Mindy that the idea of being with someone forever is only a nice idea when you're teenagers. Mindy decides that she'll be with Josh and they'll only be open to the possibility of forever. This crisis wouldn't be so bad except they pretty much had an extremely similar one in the episode before this one. It also felt like this entire high school plot was a convoluted way to get a 15-year-old to interrogate Josh and get his awkward response on marriage rather than having it be a natural extension of the plot. She also goes to the high school and starts to hand out condoms. She promptly gets arrested on the suspicion of being a pedophile. This is supposed to be a misunderstanding, but is it really? We still don't know who this young teenage girl is or why she's so close to Mindy. Since we don't know why they're friends or anything, Mindy's motivations are completely unexplained in this episode and therefore it just all feels extremely forced.
Mindy's plot might have been confusing but at least it kept me laughing. The sub-plot involving Danny and Betsy really didn't. Danny gets some anonymous complaint that Morgan has been checking out Shaina. Danny tries to resolve the situation by bringing it up to the both of them. Morgan agrees to not ogle her anymore but it's more complicated than that because Shaina didn't send the complaint. It was actually Betsy, who sent it in because she's insecure about her beauty. This creates an awkward situation where Danny tries to make her feel better. Danny is usually a reliable character to make me laugh but putting him with Betsy simply didn't work. I think the only time this sub-plot worked was when Morgan kept bringing up the stray dogs he kept sneaking into the practice.
Teen Patient is definably the worst episode of The Mindy Project yet.
The cold opens are quickly becoming the best parts of this show.
Weirdly enough, Josh and Mindy scenes are starting to rival Mindy and Castellano scenes as my favorite part of the show.
The show is dropping Gwen down to recurring status and Shauna is going to be completely removed from the show. I can't say I'll miss Shauna, but I do hope the series is serious about keeping Gwen as a recurring element of the show.