The Mindy Project has undergone drastic changes since its pilot episode. The first season was its the breeziest, with the focus mainly on a revolving door of Mindy’s (Mindy Kaling) dates and her relationships with her best girlfriends and a diverse band of coworkers. Since then, the girlfriends have been axed (we hardly knew ye, Anna Camp), Mindy and Danny (Chris Messina) headed into uneasy monogamy, and the only coworkers who seem to get any airtime are Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) and Jody (Garret Dillahunt), a new addition this season. Some of the changes worked better than others, but while the show’s highs are very high indeed, even fans have to admit that it’s often a bumpy ride.
However, when The Mindy Project made the transition from Fox to Hulu, the show began to move in an intriguing new direction. Though it still occasionally feels like a live-action cartoon — this is a show where Morgan once wrapped Mindy up in a greasy pizza box to calm her down — it’s also taken a surprisingly realistic look at a relationship between two strong personalities. As Mindy and Danny inched their way to the altar, it became clear that no matter how much these two people cared about each other, they were apparently too different to remain a functional couple. In the mid-season finale, “When Danny Met Mindy,” after Danny refused to compromise on Mindy’s desire to continue working at her new fertility clinic, it looked like Mindy was moving out and choosing a life of single motherhood instead of denying what she wanted out of life to become a Castellano.
A different show would have had Danny rush to her apartment, make a grand speech about how he will do anything not to lose her, and there would be a swoon-inducing kiss and heartfelt reconciliation. However, The Mindy Project is not that show, as its midseason premiere, “Will They or Won’t They,” confirms. Despite utilizing the standard rom-com trope, the relationship montage, it soon becomes clear that the breakup hinted at in the finale was going to stick. Mindy and Danny fall into familiar patterns (and bed) together, but Danny still resents Mindy for “choosing her job over us having a happy family,” and Mindy isn’t willing to put aside her dreams to be a stay-at-home mom. There aren’t any easy answers here, and Kaling is smart not to vilify either choice. Neither are wrong, it’s just a difference in personality and goals. It may be easy to blame Danny for trying to stifle Mindy, but she’s known he’s a traditional Catholic guy since day one. The fact that he would want his wife to stay home and have more children shouldn’t be a surprise, but Danny’s consternation over Mindy’s unwillingness to simply toss aside her new and thriving business is also misguided.