Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Mindy Project

The Mindy Project
Episode 19: My Cool Christian Boyfriend
Episode 20: Pretty Man
By: Carlos Uribe

The Mindy Project is about an OB/GYN named Mindy.

Spoilers Ahoy?

I think my patience for this show is just about to run out.

My Cool Christian Boyfriend:

What was this episode about? Well I guess it could be split into two halves. The first involves Mindy meeting a guy on the subway. The two manage to connect even though he had forced her to miss her spot. So it's basically like a lot of other episodes where it concentrates on Mindy's love life. She accepts his offer to go on a date. The date takes an unexpected turn when she learns that he's a preacher. So what does she decide to do? Go to church. Only she can't help but find the most stereotypical outfit she can. She brings a huge hat with her and drags Danny because he's Catholic. It really is a pity that since the series was already going to religious jokes that they didn't really do anything relating to bringing a Catholic to a Lutheran church. What they instead was having him be uncomfortable at this particular Lutheran church because he doesn't like how the preacher delivers his sermons. It makes sense and it's always great to see Danny uncomfortable. The problem I have with this half is that it treated people's belief something as something to make fun of rather than with the dignity it deserves. I'm not saying that you can't make jokes about religion but they need to be at least respectful of the people who hold them. I think the best example to provide is how the Middle treats religion. It can get good jokes from it but it's always understanding that people actually believe in God. The way Community handled religion for it's first three seasons was also remaining mindful even as it cracked jokes about it. With The Mindy Project, there was no such respect. I'm not trying to imply it was maliciously making fun of religion or that it was being purposefully disrespectful but that it treated religion with a sense of indignity. The church was a punchline but it didn't really take into account the people that actually believe in them.

The episode then split into the second half. The pastor doesn't want to go on a second date with Mindy because he thinks she's selfish. This is an accurate assessment but Mindy decides to prove him wrong. She joins the rest of her office to going to a women's prison to volunteer her medical services. There's a scene that makes no sense where Morgan tries to teach all of the characters how to act in the prison. This would make sense if this was the first time they were all going but it's implied that this is has been going on for a while. Morgan's lessons would then only make sense to Mindy. Of course, that would imply that anything about Morgan should make sense when he really just exists to be weird. I still don't like Morgan so I was especially displeased that the second half increased his role. The second half was basically a whole bunch jokes about women convicts. The series uses all the negative stereotypes it can think in order to try and create comedy. Only none of it is really funny because it's all so predictable. What's worse is that the series seemed to imply that almost all female convicts are basically the same tough and creepy personalities. The one seemingly normal convict inadvertently starts a huge fight over a candy bar. The writers didn't treat religion as something people actually believed in but as a joke machine and they afforded the same respect to women's prisons. These convicts are to be made fun of rather than people who broke the law or were wrongly sentenced.

In the end, Mindy decides that she doesn't like the pastor because he judged her. I wasn't a fan of this episode. I would like to make one thing clear: the episode never actually offended me. It never came close but it did turn me off. The way it treated religion felt like the show was trying to be respectful but failing because it didn't know how. The way it treated the women's prisons is with the mentality that all convicts are bad, scary, and to be avoided. It just seems so far removed from any reality that it failed to really work on any level. My Cool Christian Boyfriend is a weak and unfunny episode that failed to accomplish anything.

Pretty Man:

It's time to start an episode with Mindy meeting yet another guy! There are so many meet-cute openings in this series that it's starting to become a trope for the show. This time she meets a hot guy who turns out to be a male prostitute. Her reaction is predictably negative but she's willing to give him a chance when he asks her out. She finds out that he wants to be a singer-songwriter and that he has some real talent for it. Her solution is to “pretty woman” him by setting him on a new direction in life. She begins by inviting him to a party that Danny is throwing. Okay, so the basic concept is that Mindy shows up to the party with a prostitute. What could go wrong? The idea isn't bad but it spends too much time building up for a pay-off that doesn't completely work. The writing on this show simply isn't strong enough for it to accomplish a lot of what it sets out to do. It doesn't help that the prostitute basically has no personality beyond his two personality traits: musically oriented and a guy who has sex with women for money. It's hard to buy into Mindy's crusade to make him a better person when he comes across as a two-dimensional plot device. That's right: I wouldn't even say that he's actually a character since his occupation defines him.

So Danny has this party with that girl he's dating. It starts out as a small dinner engagement but he chose not to invite Mindy. Why? It's because of all the idiots she dates! That this episode centers around a prostitute should probably give away to any viewer she's going to that party with said prostitute. Mindy turns it into a big party when she invites everybody in the office to go. Danny isn't happy because he doesn't like big social events. I'm with him. Mindy does show up to the party and at first it seems to go well. There's a lot of great banter between the two and I'm briefly reminded why I still watch this show: it's because of the Mindy-Danny scenes. They don't just have great unresolved sexual chemistry but they're able to bounce each off other well. Without those scenes, I would be long gone. Alas they only get more complicated because of the climax. Mindy reveals to Danny's current girlfriend that he used to be married. Girlfriend gets mad for keeping this secret and dumps Danny. Mindy's boyfriend tries to keep his occupation a secret but eventually reveals that he's a prostitute who actually likes his job. He does, after all, get paid to have sex with women. Danny is mad at Mindy for ruining his party. The episode ends with Morgan and Mindy sharing a moment but it doesn't work with me because Morgan is the worst.

Pretty Man is an episode that is weak. It suffers because the prostitute is an ill-defined character and a lot of attention is directed at manufacturing comical situations that don't pan out. The best part of the episode are the scenes where Mindy and Danny interact as they're actually pretty good. If this show could only have those two in a room I would probably be satisfied but you can't have a whole series with just the two of them. The Mindy Project still needs to work on having an actual show surrounding them and we have yet to actually get one. The closest thing Mindy Project has is who she's going to be dating that week and that's starting to get old.

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