Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Mindy Project 4x21 Review: "Under the Texan Sun" (Vacation All I Never Wanted) [Contributor: Anne]

"Under the Texan Sun"
Original Airdate: May 31, 2016

When will The Mindy Project learn?

I guess that question is kind of lofty because I've never known The Mindy Project to learn from its mistakes, even when it was at its best. But seriously, c'mon. When will The Mindy Project learn that its vacation episodes are not its strongest and are, in fact, some of the worst episodes the show has to offer?

I know what you're thinking: some of the best episodes — the "Santa Fe"s and the "The Deserts" and what have you — were so obviously vacation episodes. Episodes without the crutch* of romance, however, have also included "L.A." and "Road Trip," both episodes that pointed to some of the show's overall, grating flaws.

I'm disappointed the show decided to go this direction because I have been enjoying the past couple of episodes. On one hand, the show did use Peter and Lauren as a motivating factor for Mindy to move forward with her life, thereby showing some interest in long-term character development; on the other, the plot was anchored in the ridiculous reality that a neurosurgeon would not know that her husband was a) skipping work and b) stealing work storylines from Grey's Anatomy.

I'm also disappointed in Mindy, too. For all of her previous adventures, I cannot remember disliking her character more; in this episode, she's abrasive, aggressive, and childish to a new high. Often I enjoy when characters are at their worst, because I hate when characters are irritatingly perfect, but in this episode, Mindy got the worst kind of treatment: the hero treatment, the savior treatment, the treatment where she not only saved a relationship but also got propositioned sex by a man who accused her of harassment not twenty minutes before. When a character is treated in a way that does not coincide with their decisions, it is aggravating to be a viewer. Especially because Mindy is not really the beacon of strength that Peter and Lauren imagine she is; she, nor the show, can even address the weird moment between she and Jody, one way or another!

I guess it is good to know that The Mindy Project still has the ability to disappoint. I thought it had lost that long ago. This episode depended too much on the hope that I would enjoy Mindy and Peter together, but had no idea how to make that experience enjoyable. Instead we got to see — for the second time this — season what happens when Hulu gives the show too much creative license: a scattered plot and character development that feels disingenuous.

Stray Observations:
  • * I have said this before, but what I mean is this: romance so frequently, especially at the beginning, is the perfect anchor for any television show to hide its shortcomings and be at its strongest. It's such an obvious, paved path to take that even going through the motions is exciting for a viewer. It's an immediate source of conflict and, when done right, is a really thorough analysis of whether or not two distinct people/characters can be compatible. It's why the Moonlighting curse even exists: so many writers do not know how to create a long-term relationship that mines character conflict without the steady "will-they-won't-they" anchor.
  • I know when I initially wrote about "Road Trip" I was positive and said basically that I appreciated the show for trying something new. But that episode definitely hasn't sat well with me.
  • I loved the Superstore universe tie-in! I would recommend that show to all who haven't seen. Summer Lovin', right Jenn?! [Jenn's Note: RIGHT!]


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