Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Mindy Project 3x11 "Christmas" [Contributor: Ann]

Original Airdate: December 9, 2014

One of my favorite philosophies is that, at the end of everything, what is most important isn’t what a person does to you or what a person says to you but the way that person made you feel. 

I love it because it doesn’t try to quantify an emotional response, doesn’t try to justify it by pulling up a list of bullet points. If someone made you feel horrible, your memories will be colored by that feeling. Our retrospect is more of a Jackson Pollock painting of feelings than a list. Memories are not like our middle school AIM profiles. They are multidimensional.

I have only seen “Christmas” once, and will only be watching it once because I don’t want to wait any more before writing out these feelings. I don’t want to talk about the pacing of the episode or try to dissect what this episode means in context of the past episodes and what the show could have done better. I really don’t. I am tired of doing that.

This is a review that is based off of how I remember feeling. It is the Christmas episode, so maybe that is the most appropriate proceeding, to move based on what is in my heart rather than what is in my finals-addled brain.

And, though the me of future rewatches may resist—may try to poke holes or point things out—the overwhelming feeling that I get when I think about “Christmas” is happiness. This episode made me happy, and even if I am not as sharp on its technical successes and failures (especially in comparison to past episodes), I think this will be the favorite episode of the season so far.

Why? Hmm, I don’t know. Easily my favorite moment of the episode—making it my favorite moment of the season thus far—was Danny’s expression as Mindy read aloud one of his letters to Haiti. That moment came at me from left field; I did not know what to expect for Danny’s Secret Santa gift. But if Danny’s gift to Mindy last year was an expression of his feelings for her, this was undoubtedly an equal expression of her feelings for him— a homage to something he loves, featuring a group of people that “at work you work” Castellano of the second episode of the series would have never imagined becoming friends with.

I have always wanted to know what the contents of those letters were. In between seasons one and two, I tried to speculate on what would have happened when Mindy and Casey got back, and my thoughts were always pretty shallow—mostly that the “almost kiss” would have been addressed. Instead the letters acted as a quiet gateway from begrudging admission of feelings to an admission of “I miss you,” something I desperately hope is put in a Youtube video as a voiceover while Danny reacts to reading Mindy’s letter to him in "All My Problems Solved Forever..."

Because it resonates, you know? That part makes sense, and it’s what I’ve been waiting for and what I’ve been wanting for so long. I do not think that Mindy and Danny’s coupling is why I’ve been so hot and cold on this season—they have very distinct and funny personalities. But I do think that the problem with their coupling is that episodes are more about goofiness and shenanigans (because the major emotional baggage is out of the way) rather than an exploration of feelings for each other and their history with each other now that they have made it this far in the relationship. 

A retrospective in two forms: the Ken Burns-styled documentary of Danny Castellano, telling his life story—and the story of Mindy and Danny, the story that I fell in love with. Acknowledgement of that story by subtle callbacks — Danny finding Mindy mid-party, “Last Christmas,” Danny’s professional awe of her (coming from the pilot), Ken Burns (referenced as early as the first season’s “Bunk Bed”) and the letters— that means so much to me, because following Mindy and Danny’s love story is such a fond memory of mine. The first and second seasons are so much more inconsistent, you know? But I remember them so fondly—and with this episode I’m increasingly more inclined to give season three the love it’s been waiting for.

I’m also amped to see Mindy chasing after something professional. I have mentioned that what I want from my season three Mindy and Danny is a deepening, a growing—which, again, comes from acknowledgement of their past (“how did we get here?”). That’s been pretty touch and go. But for Mindys Lahiri and Kaling, as individuals, there has been no dearth of growth. I mean, wow — seasons one and two Mindy Lahiri were crying over a guy. Season three Mindy Lahiri is gypped, yet again, into thinking she’s getting a proposal, but her sadness this year is because of her career—which puts the whole Project that this show is titled on back in focus. A person can improve their lives in more ways than just the romantic, after all.

Has Danny deepened? It’s questionable. I will need to rewatch but I actually felt in this episode—or at least remember feeling—that the reason Danny left during Mindy’s presentation, to propose, was because he actually did want to propose to her. (Actually, it has to be that way, because Mindy wasn’t going to go to Stanford without his recommendation, which wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t travelled to Staten Island). 

Which makes the fact that he doesn’t so exciting to me. I’m very much ready to leave “Afraid to Propose” Castellano in the dust, because that well’s been tapped about as much as all the models Leo DiCaprio took home with him after breaking up with his girlfriend. I like this Danny. In many ways, he’s reminiscent of "Christmas Party Sex Trap" Danny, who took an emotional bullet so Mindy could have what she wanted. Again that is the case, but like with Mindy, what Danny does here is more significant than feebly stepping aside for another suitor. It’s an act of trust—it’s an act of knowing that it will suck to be without her, but being without her is far different than losing her.

I don’t know, you guys. This episode was cute to me—Danny writing the letter of recommendation, Julia Stiles and Morgan hitting it off surprisingly well (him calling her beautiful, or romantically waiting outside her window), Beverly wiggling out of the hot pipe room. The callback to the Christmas dance last year by Morgan. The little drummer girl! Dr. Ludreau, a welcome addition to the revolving door of people in this cast, or TJ, who is as smokin’ as ever. The wreath! Mindy’s dress.

I harp on this show a lot—it’s kind of a part of the whole “overanalyzing television” deal—but this show will always be fond to me, even when it disappoints me and especially when it floors me. Its cast, its comedy and brilliant stack of writers, the fun and outrageous guest stars they get to come on (LEE PACE YOU GUYS)—

This show is a gift.

Stray Observations:
  • But of course, c’mon, where was the gingerbread house?!
  • There was something very sexy and spy about this Christmas party.
  • Mindy’s dress was out of this world.
  • I’m so team Jeremy, btw. Get outta here, Pete!
  • Beverly’s outfits — did you see the LA shirt and the You’ve Got Sext cardi?
  • Ugh, so many favorite jokes. Off the top of my head my favorite was the one about the neurosurgeons. My friend and I also laughed for a long time about “Meatball?” “I’ll just eat them.”
It is a month long hiatus next (gulp) and I will try to write for lovely Jenn during break, but until then here is my ranking of the episodes thus far:
  1. Christmas
  2. We’re A Couple Now, Bitches
  3. Diary of a Mad Indian Woman
  4. What About Peter?
  5. The Devil Wears Lands’ End
  6. Crimes and Misdemeanors and Ex-BFs
  7. Caramel Princess Time
  8. I Slipped
  9. We Need to Talk About Annette
  10. How to Lose a Mom in Ten Days
  11. Annette Castellano is My Nemesis
I don’t hate Rhea Perlman, I swear! Or her fun friend Dot. Just—a little at a time, I’d say.
Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see me review or write about during break. I don’t know if I’d do an entire-show undertaking like The Office, unless it’s something smaller. I’d love to try out pilots (I really love pilots) or if there’s a ranking or something you’d like me to examine leave it in the comments!

Thank you all for reading, and I have to apologize for not being so analytical this week, though I’m sure it’s a welcome break. Finals weak (appropriate typo there) has been really hard, and this semester has been really hard. But I am ultimately thankful for you little nutjobs. You guys make me so unparalleled levels of happy, and while I have been of late (read: since August) very very busy, this has been very much a bright spot. You would be surprised how much I owe The Mindy Project.
My thanks extends to Jenn. I hope you’re having fun in L.A. and eternal thanks and gratitude for letting me write on here! [Jenn's Note: ANN IS AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL AND LOVELY. I seriously can't imagine this site without her, which is so weird because she hasn't even been a part of it that long. But that's how good she is, y'all. Just so you know.]



  1. Anne. Is. WONDERFUL

  2. Thanks for the review. It was such a great episode. I will watch it dozens of times before January. What I loved was that it was romantic but also made such a great statement about what a strong woman Mindy was. In the end, she wasn't really going to Stanford so much because Danny didn't propose to her (though I think that was initially what she thought), and I don't think his proposing would have changed her desire to go. Rather, it was exactly like what Casey said in season 1, that (s)he could go because this was really the last chance to do something completely for career without considering others. I find that reasonable. I know there were comments on Twitter (from the usual suspects who always hate on the show now) about how she shouldn't have to choose, but in life, people do have to make choices, and she is supposed to be a realistic person, not just an icon. I thought it was very well-done. Also, Jean has been a wonderful character and counterpoint to Mindy.

    And how cute that Charlie Grandy wrote an episode with his dad in it. There was another Grandy as the little drummer girl. Daughter? Or maybe a niece?

  3. "who took an emotional bullet so Mindy could have what she wanted." I love this. I think on the one hand Danny is not big on change but on the other hand he loves Mindy. He will be hesitant but will put Mindy's happiness first. He felt horrible for ruining her chances of the fellowship so he wanted to do something to make her happy even if it means going to California. I really enjoy the fact that the show isn't just about Mindy's love life but her professional goals as well.

  4. I know you are team jeremy but I liked the scene where Peter gives Lauren a toy truck. Peter is a hot mess but at least he acknowledged Lauren's baby as a person while Jeremy seems to forgot that dating Lauren means taking care of the baby. This is a common problem. Date the girl but forget that she comes with a kid.