Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Mindy Project 4x02 "C is for Coward" (Best Thing She Ever Cooked) [Contributor: Anne]

"C is For Coward"
Original Airdate: September 22, 2015

Do I even need to beat around the bush? This week’s episode of The Mindy Project was awesome. Potentially better than the first, but when you’re comparing two of the best episodes this show has churned out so far, what’s really the difference?

Both of the first two episodes were breakneck. Because the two biggest question marks as we entered this season were the will-they-won’t-they engagement and the definitely-definitely-will little Castellano, and in two episodes both of these greater questions have been solved. Well, not solved. It’s more like what happens when you’re playing Super Mario and you reach the end of the level and slide down the flagpole, and then immediately you’re at the next level — a level that will be more exciting and potentially more difficult.

But again, not that it matters, because in this elaborate metaphor, The Mindy Project is rocking high scores. Sidebar: Do you guys play Super Mario? You should. But again, that’s not really my point.

Let me talk about some of the reasons why this episode succeeded, though if you watched it, I’m sure I’ll just be repeating what you were thinking in your head. Let me begin with the conflict: Mindy and Danny are at odds over Mindy’s birth plan (Mindy wants a drugged-out C-section, Danny wants a natural birth). Danny is very obviously wrong, though that’s not new.

Here’s what IS new, however:

1. The show makes it so clear, so early, and so often that Danny is the one in the wrong. Think back to "Be Cool." Again, Danny is a huge jerk, but in that episode Mindy is pushed to the side and made to feel bad about her opinion. She’s made to feel like she’s incorrect for wanting what she wants, which to any viewer is reasonable and acceptable. In "Be Cool," Mindy is trying to smoke in the space between her wall and the bed. Or think of "Confessions of a Catho-holic," where Mindy — again — hides away, dejected. Or "Dinner at the Castellanos," or "I Slipped," or "Christmas," or "Best Man." In all of these episodes, Danny is wrong and Mindy leaves, dejected. In this episode, however, Mindy fights against Danny! She tells him basically that it’s unfair for him to act like he should have any say in what she does with her body. When Danny tries to pop the baby out of her, she is “betrayed” and “upset” — not embarrassed, insecure, or any of the other things that Danny’s season three denseness made her feel. 

Why is this such a big deal? Because Mindy and Danny are on an equal playing field now. They’re in conflict against each other, as they have been before, but Mindy is an active player instead of someone who is resigned or worn-out or crying. 

These are the kinds of conflicts The Mindy Project should have for its main characters. Mindy and Danny are so great for each other because their romance is so distinctly their own. This is both as a result of their separate loud personalities and how loud their personalities are when they're together. Danny and Mindy should always be on equal playing fields because they are equals. Well, maybe Mindy’s a little bit better — but that they are equals in conflicts, in harboring fears, in having idiosyncrasies, and so forth. When you have episode after episode of Danny wearing Mindy down, it becomes difficult to watch, and it makes you wonder why these two are even together in the first place. With a conflict like the one in "C is For Coward," Danny is wrong, but at least these two are at a level of security where Mindy’s claws can come out and she can defend herself and her position.

2. And another thing: Although Danny is obviously wrong, and Mindy obviously right, at least Danny’s position makes sense to me. Danny’s always been dense when it comes to understanding anyone who isn’t a white male, and — although it’s kind of weird that he’s not used to women getting C-sections, given his profession — at least there’s some religious, traditional precedent for why he is acting the way he is acting. 

Also, while I cannot state enough that Mindy has the right to do whatever she wants with her body, I really appreciated that Mindy was at the edge of ridiculousness with her birth plan (wanting a place that Saddam Hussein called, quote, "a bit much") and that Brendan and Duncan were more ridiculous than Danny. Mindy is humanized in her choice because there is so much emotion behind her ridiculousness; Danny is humanized in his because, for how dense he is, at least there’s someone denser.

3. Additionally, Danny is humanized because his misunderstanding comes from a place of love. It’s not like "Christmas" where Danny doubts Mindy’s ability to commit; in this case, Danny doesn’t understand why Mindy would be scared, because she has always presented herself as so strong to him. This misunderstanding leads to the most romantic speech that Danny has given since he told Mindy that “you know you’re right for someone when they force you to be the best version of yourself.”

I forget who mentioned it on Twitter, but someone told me that this episode was so great because we were reminded of how these two respect the hell out of each other. This is in line with Danny and Mindy being equals; both of them feel like they are the luckiest in the world for being with each other. That’s fun to watch. 

4. I love little talk on sitcoms. I love when characters laugh at jokes that other characters have told, and I love when characters agree on something, even when it’s the smallest thing in the world. I love when talk isn’t necessarily plot-based but works to flesh out characters and relationships more! It makes me feel cozy.

I bring this up because one of my most favorite moments in the episode was when Danny said that Leo would clean up and Mindy said that it was exactly what she was thinking. These two characters are often fighting or compromising for each other, and I loved seeing them agreeing on something through coincidence rather than after a reconciliation.

5. This episode was hilarious. I felt like I was quoting every line from this episode as I was live-tweeting it.
  • “Nature sucks! I need drugs!” 
  • “Mindy, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face for so very long.” 
  • “Save my money and spend his.” 
  • “Sorry, I can’t. My legs are tired from being long and thin.” 
  • “My body is an idiot! Have you ever seen me trying to climb a ladder?!” 
  • “Booze? Sex? You used all my favorite things against me!” 
  • “Masks? Really doctors? What are you hiding?” 
  • “You’re just drawing the number 69.” 
I think it was the funniest episode ever (my last favorite being “Sk8er Man.”)

Here’s what’s exciting about The Mindy Project: First, that they gained some trust with me for nailing the always-difficult “having a baby” episode. Second that having a child changes people, often for the better. Mindy and Danny have proven in these two episodes that they are capable of having a conflict while still loving each other, and I actually think a baby will make this clearer and more interesting than ever.

(And if I was giving these episodes grades? This would get an A+)

Stray Observations: 
  • The office cast was used really well this episode — sparingly but also with forward motion!
  • That being said, I wish that Ed Weeks was utilized a little bit better on this show. It would be great if he were still a lothario and not pathetic — Morgan should phone-in friends, not Jeremy! He’s had bad plots for eons and hopefully his stories this year get funnier or at least more interesting.
  • I don’t like Sam Smith at all, but that was quite beautiful at the end.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ann!

    I've read many of your posts but rarely commented. I loved the Mindy/Danny dynamic in this episode, but, as a mom and as someone who endured a C section, I'm surprised there hasn't been more backlash. The experience of having a C section is difficult, not just medically, but emotionally. Women are generally shamed for having C sections. I'm surprised that Mindy would have encouraged this type of thinking. Granted, she was talking about the glam celebrity c sections, but, when you've been through the C section walk of shame, there's no differentiation. "C is for coward" is an AWFUL mantra in the hum of judgment faced by women who have to undergo a C section for whatever reason. Mindy is generally so pro-women. I was honestly shocked by this piece from her; it seemed very uncharacteristic.