Season 4 of The Mindy Project, while not without its faults, tried to take the comedy and premise of the show back to that of the earlier days, before networks notes and ratings grabs irreparably messed with the thing that made it magical and unique.
It’s hard to even think back on this season clearly, I don’t know if it’s that 26 is a lot of episodes, or if it’s the sizeable midseason hiatus, or if all the stories and themes they tried to work in there was too much. Then there’s the fact that we lost some writers in the midseason break, and gained others who are maybe still adjusting to these characters’ voices. Most notably, Messina’s absence created a void in the essence of the show that the writers tried to fill (they should keep trying, harder. And don’t let anyone go off and do movies with Ben Affleck anymore, he ruins everything.))
We started this season with a pregnant Mindy, waking up from a fantastic Sliding Doors-esque dream, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt as the ultimate boyfriend, to find Danny sitting on the bed, ready to propose after having journeyed to India. She says yes and we all naively think that maybe things are going to be okay. Mindy gives birth on the subway in the next episode, then she’s bored on maternity leave, the she becomes BFF’s with Eliza Coupe. As she’s preparing to go back to work, Danny wants her to stay home and Jody is rude to her and she’s so vulnerable and seemingly scared of messing up this human life that she agrees to being a stay-at-home mom. She tried to do the wife and mom thing perfectly and according to what Danny expects of her, cooking, cleaning, dressing fab, but it all takes a toll and she wants to tell Danny but then his dad has a heart attack so he has to go to California to help take care of him. He chooses to drive there because we need to fill an episode without Mindy while Kaling is on her book tour. Then Mindy has a hard time finding a nanny but she makes it work and never tells Danny that she’s struggling and that he should come back. Then it turns out Morgan is bad at running her business so she has to partner with Jody and start “Later, Baby.” Let’s see, what else…she makes herself look extra Indian & pretends that Jody is her husband so they can get Leo into a good pre-school, then she joins a bereavement group accidentally, staying in it so this old lady would buy her apartment a a jacked price – it all blows up in her face. THEN DANNY COMES BACK! They start planning the wedding and Mindy’s parents come into town & want to throw her an engagement party. There’s some drama as Annette feels left out of the fold and also more drama with Mindy having to leave town to give a last minute Later, Baby talk. Mindy’s dad tells Danny to not stand in the way of her dreams and Mindy talks to Annette to smooth things over and Annette also tells her to go and never give up her career ambitions. Danny, in a sweet gesture, goes to her talk and apologizes, BUT THEN HE RUINS IT AGAIN BY CALLING IT A HOBBY. The tension between these two is getting dangerous, he will just not listen to her and her needs and she keeps walking on eggshells to not start a fight. In the one before the midseason finale, D is trying to get M pregnant by tracking her cycle and taking her on dates where she’ll “slut it up.” She finds out and they have a huge fight, she leaves in the middle because her first fertility patient is going into labour and duh priorities. When she comes back, Danny wants them to cool it with the engagement for a while and stop the wedding plans, it’s so sad to watch Lahiri go from ecstatic about the successful procedure to devastated in a matter of seconds. The Christmas episode flashes back to when they first met, to remind you that Danny was always sort of an asshole and it ends with Mindy measuring her closet to see if Leo’s crib will fit inside.
See what I mean? This was just 13 episodes and we went through literally all the emotions in the world, & I didn’t even cover the B plot stuff. Okay, take a deep breath, do a shot, let’s do the next 13.
The show came back from hiatus with a bang, Danny & Mindy had tried to make it work but the fighting never stopped so she gave back the ring and moved out. They did keep hooking up though, which was fine until Mindy found some other woman’s lipstick in Danny’s bathroom and realized she needed to cut him out so that she could heal and move on. In 414 she’s dating this guy whose into sports but he’s pushing the relationship into overdrive because his girlfriend just dumped him and he’s trying to rebound (COUGH WHAT DANNY IS DOING WITH SARAH COUGH). Then there’s the episode where Mindy and Whitney become BFF’s after Whitney helps her get her finances on track. Next up, Mindy is horny as hell so she gets on a dating app but that’s gross so she hooks up with the cute bartender instead. But he has to leave to do Casual so they break up off screen. MINDY FINALLY DATES A NON WHITE MAN! Neel is an Indian American whose Indian side is very important to him and a big part of his life, unlike Mindy who really took “white culture” and ran with it. They date a bit and it helps her get in touch with her roots and realize she wants Leo to know about his heritage too. Then CASEY is back in town so they hook up, but he’s too childish for her so she jumps to his best friend Ne-Yo but it turns out they have nothing in common and he doesn’t want to stay in and just watch TV so we dump him too. Mindy takes a trip to Texas to get away from all this heartache. There she’s a little racist to Peter & Lauren’s landscaper but he forgives her and leaves her with a smooth as hell line about hooking up if he’s in NYC. We’re nearing the end of the season now and we’ve barely seen or heard from Danny except for one time in an earlier episode where Jody writes Mindy a romantic letter but mails it to Danny instead, so he busts into the offices and tells Jody to back the hell off, then he tells Mindy to make good choices. See what I forget to tell you when we don’t cover the B plots, like the whole thing about Jody sleeping with his sister in law…ugh anyway let’s stick to Mindy’s life. She goes to give a Later, Baby talk at Princeton and meets Drew the hot football coach, they start to date but she wants to keep him a secret so she keeps meeting him on campus. Finally one weekend he comes to NYC but then Danny has an emergency so Mindy has to take Leo and can’t hang with him – he’s totally cool with it because babies are ew. The next day she ditches him to play softball with the office because they’re getting a bad rep since Danny left and they lost patients. Hot Drew is cool and nice about that too, when he finds out and shows up on the field, he ends up coaching them to a win. Mindy ends up in the hospital because duh, sports, and finally tells everyone he’s her boyfriend. It doesn’t last long however because in the next episode, he’s always avoiding her when Leo is around and doesn’t even watch what was supposed to be Leo’s soap opera debut to realize that the bitch head writer had him recast. So Mindy & Hot Drew break up. JODY HOWEVER DOES WATCH AND NOTICES THIS and comes to tell Mindy how sorry he is that little Leo wasn’t the hero baby. At this point Mindy feels alone and vulnerable and he’s saying all the right things so she kisses him. In the penultimate episode, she & Jody go on a real date but it ends badly because he has chlamydia and he wasn’t going to tell her. We also learn that Daniel Castellamo is ENGAGED to his nurse, Greta Gerwig’s Sarah, who is obsessed with Mindy and goes to her office to meet her. In the last episode of season 4, Danny & Mindy get stuck in an elevator at Leo’s school, they start telling stories, Danny of women he’s dated and Mindy of this one time she followed him and remembered why she loved him. He doesn’t mention Sarah the rebound, they have sex in the elevator, they walk home and exchange I love you’s. Jody is at Mindy’s apartment trying to apologize about the lying about chlamydia thing by building her a walk-in closet. He fucks up and ends up buying the apartment above her as a gift to her. SHE’S ALL OH SHIT THAT’S A LOT DUDE. Also the camera pans away to Danny’s wedding invitation sitting on her kitchen island. AAAAAAAAAAH UUUUUUUGH WHYYYYYYYYYYYY.
Basically season 5 is going to blow everything up! Warburton said that they have her making a decision really quickly about these guys and what she’s going to do and they just launch into the story. Good to know we won’t have a crazy love triangle to deal with. Even though Messina is no longer a series regular, they’ve hinted at the idea that he’s integral to the fabric of the show and said that Danny is Mindy’s Mr. Big, so it’s safe to assume that they will end up together, riding towards the sunset, living happily ever after, but until then – who knows what they have in store for next year.
If I tell you how many times I’ve watched seasons 1 & 2 of this show, you’d call me crazy. As I was writing this piece I realized that while I still laughed at the jokes and enjoyed watching each episode (multiple times even) I’m not sure I would sit and binge watch this season the way I used to do with season 1 whenever I had a free weekend. Don’t get me wrong, the show is still a light and fun comedy, with gorgeous aesthetics and heartfelt moments, it just seems to lose itself every time it tries to reinvent itself.
Anywaaaay, In Kaling we trust – see you in 11 weeks for the 5th season premiere & keep checking back for gifs and news and scoops and maybe me “coincidentally” meeting Mindy on the Universal Studios backlot tour teehee.
I’m giving the season an overall rating of 4/5 nerd glasses, because it made me laugh and forget my problems and that’s what TV is all about for me.