A few thoughts on last night's momentous “The Mindy Project” coming up just as soon as I turn this into a place where rescue dogs can get methadone…
“No More Mr. Noishe Guy” was already going to be a notable episode as Adam Pally's farewell to the show(*), but Mindy Kaling and various people associated with the series and/or FOX began tweeting up a storm yesterday afternoon suggesting something much bigger than Peter's exit was about to happen.
(*) If you like Pally, or Ben “Jean-Ralphio” Schwartz, or deconstructions of hallowed TV institutions, you owe it to yourself to check out Pally's recent stint as guest host of CBS' “Late Late Show,” with Schwartz as his sidekick. The whole thing is strange and uncomfortable (particularly the Martellus Bennett interview) and wonderful; in the above link, Schwartz described it as “part talk show, part chaos, part improv but mostly two friends hanging out not quite realizing any of it was actually going to air on television.”
Given the arc and obsessions of the series, I assumed it would be something nuptial-related, whether a proposal or even Kaling trying to outdo her old pal Mike Schur in the impromptu sitcom wedding department. Instead, the big news came via Peter on his way to Austin: Mindy was, to her great surprise, pregnant. In an interview with EW, Kaling explained, “We always like doing things out of order for Danny and Mindy, since they are a couple that, on paper, shouldn”t work.”
Now, I'm not someone who believes sitcoms are automatically ruined when the characters start having kids, but the degree of difficulty is awfully high. (Last night's “Parks and Rec” made me feel very relieved the show has kept Leslie and Ben's triplets in the background as much as possible.) But I think the nature of Mindy Lahiri as a character gives this show a built-in advantage so many comedies with mid-run pregnancies don't have. Because she's so blinkered in so many ways, I imagine her responses to all the typical pregnant woman comedy tropes feeling new and weird and shockingly funny, especially with a joke-writing staff as good as the one Kaling has assembled. And I can see impending fatherhood only emphasizing all the old-man qualities that make Danny such a great foil for her.
And if the show should stay on the air long enough for Mindy to give birth – a prospect I doubted after longtime “Mindy” champion Kevin Reilly left FOX, but that became at least a bit more likely after the network extended this season's order in November – I really like the idea of seeing these two try to be parents. One of my favorite episodes of the series remains the season 1 episode where Mindy tries to counsel a teenage neighbor about sex, because the high school context forced her to have to be the mature one for once in a rare while, albeit in a very Mindy Lahiri way.
“The Mindy Project” spent a while getting Mindy and Danny together, and their relationship has been the best thing to happen to the show. At this point, it would ring false – and be just plain dumb – to have them break up over something like her desire to move to San Francisco, so the series needs to find new sources of comic tension between them. Planning a wedding could have been one way to go, and maybe we'll see that, too. But the very idea of Mindy raising a tiny human being amuses the hell out of me, and I hope we get to see that play out.
What did everybody else think? Were you stunned like Mindy when you heard the news? Pleased? Upset? Will you miss Peter, or have you long since gotten used to this show as a place with near-constant cast turnover?