When The Mindy Project premiered in 2012, star and creator Mindy Kaling had really hit her stride. She was coming off of a wildly successful run on The Office, which she also occasionally wrote for and co-starred in, and had written her first best-selling memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? After some creative shake-ups during the first season, The Mindy Project eventually settled in to become one of the sharpest and funniest sitcoms currently on the air. Unfortunately, quality doesn’t always lead to big ratings and the show struggled to find an audience, causing it to be cancelled by Fox, its original network. However, Hulu swooped in and added it to its growing catalog of original programming, and will be premiering the 26-episode fourth season on September 15.
Part of the appeal of the show is the romantic tension between Kaling’s Dr. Mindy Lahiri and her coworker, fellow OBGYN Dr. Danny Castellano, played by “That Guy Who Is in Everything” Chris Messina (who, incidentally, turns 41 today). The two have organically transitioned from being congenially antagonistic to a place where they are in a fun and sometimes challenging relationship, with a give-and-take rapport that have led many to label them the new “Sam and Diane.” While the finale of season three may have left the strength of that relationship in doubt, hopefully they will find a happier ending than the famed Cheers couple. Let’s take a look at some highlights from their relationship and ponder their longevity as romantic partners in preparation for season four. Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Going back and watching the pilot of The Mindy Project is an odd experience. Mindy was a hot mess, she was hooking up with Jeremy, and the core cast was quite different. At the beginning of the show, Mindy and Danny really do not get along. While they have a begrudging respect for each other as doctors, the rivalry is clear. When Mindy asks her coworkers for advice over what to wear on a first date, Danny informs her that she would look best if she lost some weight. That kind of unnecessary meanness runs through much of their first season relationship (though they do become increasingly more friendly), with Danny only softening when Mindy starts to date Casey and plans a move to Haiti. At the prospect of potentially losing his friend, Danny is forced to reevaluate his feelings.