"The Greatest Date in the World"
Original Airdate: May 24, 2016
Hey there, hi there!
I have been saying a lot of similar things the past couple in my reviews of The Mindy Project, and I am very excited to try something new this week: breaking down, character-by-character, what I thought of the episode.
I think that the basic "gist" of this season has been so consistent — and I don't think “The Greatest Date in the World” changes what I've been thinking about the season as a whole — that more interesting insights may be generated by looking at the episode piece-by-piece. I will summarize what I thought about this episode, though, if you're curious: as Ne-Yo said, this episode wasn't the best in the world, but it was pretty fun. I'm still enjoying the Danny-less episodes (they tend to be lighter-hearted without sacrificing interesting/meaningful storylines), and I did love Ne-Yo's run on the show as the first mature boyfriend Mindy's ever really had.
But I think that the overall quality was a little lacking. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but despite how much I like Jody — more than the average viewer, it seems — his presence is kind of like a rebound after a particularly nasty break-up with someone you really cared about and who let you down.
But anyway, here we go!
This episode was one of the first times Mindy got berated, reasonably, for doing something wrong — reasonably. I say “reasonably” twice because this episode does provide rationale behind Eden, Jody, and Mindy's mindsets. Eden likes Mindy, but it's not unreasonable for her to be angry at the boundaries clearly crossed; Jody like-likes Mindy, but his objections towards Mindy's behavior are based in her professional misstep rather than a way for him to vent his feelings; and Mindy is a good doctor, but is certainly not perfect, and has all the reason in the world to project her experiences onto a patient she cares for.
I've definitely mentioned that the problem with so many Danny-and-Mindy plots in the past two seasons was that Mindy was so obviously in the right all of the time. When Danny's justification is “I am domineering because you make bad decisions!” despite trying to trick his wife into pregnancy, it's not hard to take Mindy's side. However, this becomes boring in the long run. We would see Mindy be wrong in so many silly ways, but when it counted, she was in the right.
This situation adds nuance because Mindy's point-of-view is as a caretaker (both as a mom and as a doctor), and by telling her about Jonah, Eden shows how grey the line between mom and doctor is for Mindy and how others reflect that back to her. Mindy's not 100% wrong for meddling because, I mean, her patient did drop all her baggage in the examination room and did ask her doctor to pick up her boyfriend's semen sample at his house. It's not like boundaries aren't being crossed there!
But of course, as Mindy yells to Morgan at Jonah's house, it's different when you, a medical professional, overstep boundaries, because you are a medical professional and you should know better — not to mention that Mindy's prime motivation was as a result of projecting her problems onto her patient. So while Mindy might not be 100% in the wrong, she is definitely not even 5% right here.
I just really appreciate that despite how irrational Mindy acts in this episode, both with Marcus (“I like that that happened. It's smart” in response to getting an egg on her head) and within her profession, that she remains grounded. She gives Marcus a shot because she likes him, but stands up for herself and the kind of person she is as well; when things hit the fan with her and Eden, she protests with emotion, not with the purpose of making me laugh. A little of that goes a long way in making Mindy Lahiri the nuanced character that Mindy Kaling so much wants her to be.
Jody confuses me. He's obviously too old for Mindy. He obviously has no chemistry with Mindy, and I have no desire to see them kiss in any way, let alone give this thing a real shot. But I would be lying if I didn't have some morbid curiosity as to what the show's building to with this fella, and how this story will either resemble or diverge from the Tale as Old as Season Two.
What muddles the waters is that Jody, for being as similar to Danny as he is, differs in very significant ways, mainly by his respect for Mindy as a professional. (I know — Danny used to share this quality — making this appraisal more complicated for me!) Jody sees Mindy not as someone to be helped along, but as someone who is his equal. Jody challenges Mindy, yet he supports her and believes in her professional success. Mindy claims that Jody thinks her life is a “mess,” but my reading of the scene was that Jody recognized that Mindy was no less amazing for her imperfect life and character, because no person's life is un-messy or perfect.
Put another way, I don't think Jody is disappointed in Mindy's handling of her life; I think he just recognizes that she is in progress and, through the specific events of the episode, proved that progress still continues. But that could be just me.
I think a lot of people are grossed out by this crush, and I don't blame them. There are so many shades of former Danny in what's going on with Jody. However, I think that what this crush has done at least in the short term has made Jody sympathetic and vulnerable. Even if he doesn't get the girl, knowing that he is capable of feelings like these is another instance where a little could stand to go a long way. (Based on the treatment of his last few girlfriends, I'm not committed to this viewpoint, but who knows what will happen?)
TAMRA, JEREMY, AND MORGAN
The B-plot was pretty basic, although structurally sound. I say that a lot and as I type it, it kind of looks silly. What I mean when I say that is that I think it is a good enough use of the characters that we have. It allows them to be funny, it is grounded in a problem that does not surprise me based on what I already know of the characters (that they don't like their jobs/that they demand everyone love their job), and by mixing together the funny and the groundedness, I feel as if I have a better read on all of the characters. Jeremy's type of desperation is so generally expressed in just one way that I like to see him react in a work situation, and I like that the nurses are underappreciated because I have friends in nursing and I hear about the doctor-nurse relationship all the time! (Guys, for real: appreciate your nurses — they are underpaid, overworked, and literally save lives on the reg.)
Still isn't doing it for me. I barely tolerate Morgan; why did they think that I wanted another one? Fortune Feimster seems so happy to be on the show that I can't be too distressed by her presence. But her character is so unfunny and so underdeveloped that I'd rather she left.
I liked Mindy's story with Marcus for the simple reason — well, one, I love Ne-Yo. Why couldn't there be a Ne-Yo song in this episode?
Sorry, I got off track. What I meant to say was that I liked her story because I think more love stories could stand to end with two people mutually agreeing that they are just not right for each other. I think that The Mindy Project, which has a revolving door of dudes, is in the best position to tell that story and tell it well; relationships make you grow no matter how they go, and I liked that this episode told a story about how Mindy's expectations are different than Marcus's. Like with the story with Neel, I find that the season four dating stories are less about wacky schlubs finding their way into Mindy's life and more about Mindy evaluating what she wants, what she expects, and what she deserves.
- Jody did look cute this episode, though, which was another layer that complicated things for me. Mindy's got eyes too!
- Mindy's look at the end wasn't charmed, more confused — I would guess she knows with certainty that Jody is positioned oddly in her life, and I would imagine that upcoming episodes will confront that more certainly.
- I don't know if this was done on purpose, but Eden's saying that Mindy was her favorite doctor reminded me of her time on House. Not surprised she picked Mindy over House or Wilson, all things considered!
- I thought that the "best in New York" phrase, repeated, was kind of hammy. As I mentioned, as far as overall quality goes, this episode felt kind of undercooked or something, lacking the sharper jokes that make this show such a draw for me. (I've been skeptical of Wigfield episodes since her peak, "Christmas Party Sex Trap," and her nadir, "L.A.")
- KUDOS to Mindy Kaling for calling out people wondering where Leo was this episode: "People ask where Mindy's baby is when I'm on a dating story. He's off playing with the children on male-driven comedies no one ever asks about."