“Cliff might have my hand, but you have my heart.”

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.15 of The Mindy Project, “French Me, You Idiot.”**

“Look, I’m gonna count to three. If you don’t kiss me, then I’ll realize this was a big mistake, and I’ll return to my seat in humiliation. One. Two. Three… Four.”

Mindy smiles and kisses Danny, still on the back of the plane where we last saw them in January. I totally get her hesitation — she just got done sending the world’s most amazing email to Cliff, desperate to win him back, and then boom, suddenly Danny Castellano is snatching the tonic water from her hand and kissing her like he never wants to stop. She probably deserved more than three seconds to adjust to that, but if Danny had left it at three — if he’d counted and then just gone back to his seat — this episode might not have happened. It was “four” that did it. It was him staying and hoping, for as long as it took for Mindy to kiss him back.

They end up in the airplane bathroom, which is where we are reminded that this is still a sitcom, and hookups in airplane bathrooms don’t go according to plan in sitcoms. They also stay hilariously in character (Danny folds his shirt, “My brother’s boyfriend gave me that for Christmas”) and then they both end up stuck in different parts of the bathroom: Danny’s hand in the sink, Mindy’s hair in the toilet. She slaps Danny’s face and yells, “Why did you do this to me!” as he begs her to stop. It’s good to see that even after they finally kissed, their dynamic doesn’t change one bit.

After the shortened credits, we see Danny and Mindy holding hands on the elevator of her building. It’s six in the morning, and Mindy invites Danny in for “a drink,” which he gently refuses because it’s so early. “If this is gonna work, Danny, you have to get used to my rock-n-roll lifestyle.” She pulls him close by the lapels of his coat, and he mutters that he can probably get used to it. They look so ridiculously happy, and I wish it could’ve lasted just a little bit longer, but alas — the loose string known as Cliff is still dangling there.

The elevator door opens, and Cliff and Morgan are standing there behind a mariachi band. Miraculously, neither Cliff nor Morgan seem to notice that Mindy and Danny are nearly embracing, or that Danny’s face turns to stone when the band starts playing and Cliff is waving enthusiastically.

Cliff tries to apologize over the band, and Morgan finally tells the band to stop playing and “Read the room.” Cliff promises he’ll never not trust Mindy again and says he still wants to be with her, and Morgan starts cheering and taking pictures with his Product Placement Windows Phone. Mindy reasons that it would be rude of her not to take him back, given all the work he just did, which is just… terrible reasoning. Then again, Cliff deserves a legitimate breakup without the prying eyes of Danny, Morgan, and the mariachi band, so it’s really respectable of Danny to bow out, even if he does throw Mindy a deeply disappointed look. It’s better than him staying to make a scene, or worse, create a triangle. His leaving means it’s totally up to Mindy, so that’s good.

Cliff rudely tries to tip Danny for seeing Mindy home — I don’t know who should be more insulted by that, Danny or Mindy. It doesn’t matter, though, because Morgan snatches the money as he corrals Danny toward the elevator. We get to see a closing-elevator-doors shot the likes of which we haven’t seen since season 2 of Veronica Mars:

Inside Mindy’s apartment, where she actually locks all of the locks on her door (it bugged me that no one on Friends ever did this except for the time the girls stole their apartment back) Cliff is subtly insulting Mindy’s writing/email abilities by calling her email “surprisingly eloquent.” He elaborates, “Most of your emails are pretty poorly spelled, aggressively vulgar, full of pop culture references that no one understands…” First of all, that’s The Mindy Project in a nutshell, and it’s damn delightful. Secondly, those emails sound amazing. And thirdly, does Cliff even like Mindy? I felt like that was incredibly mean considering he’s supposed to be eating crow for dumping her.

She tells Cliff that an old man coughed up blood on her on the airplane, as a way to get him to not try to kiss her, and it works. He makes to leave, unlocking all of those locks, but he turns back.

Cliff: “Mindy, I’m really glad we’re back together.”
Mindy: “Cliff, I think we should break up.”
Cliff: *laughs*
Mindy: “I’m in love with someone!”
Cliff: “I didn’t think we were gonna do this this early… I’m in love with someone too.”

Way to totally misread the situation, Cliff.

The next day (or maybe later that day?) Mindy goes into Danny’s office, shuts the door, and goes in for more kisses. Get it, girl! He sits back, surprised, but she’s “Horny for kisses!” which is so adorable and really ties into the second half-hour involving all the crazy sex stuff that Mindy did with Tom. Remember Tom? Oh Tom.

Anyway, Danny asks if Mindy’s broken up with Cliff yet, and she says no, he wouldn’t accept the breakup because of that dumb beautiful letter that Danny wrote (to her, how is she not straddling him at this point) and adds, “He’s basically in love with you, so it’s your fault. Now French me, you idiot.” Mindy, seriously, we all support you on your kissing endeavors. Proceed.

But Danny pushes her away again, in his squirmy agitated way, like he really likes the contact but he’s trying to listen to his brain instead of other parts of his body.

“As long as you’re with Cliff, we can’t kiss, we can’t touch, we shouldn’t even be in the same room together! I’m so Catholic, I don’t even trust this new pope!”

As a Catholic, I got a huge kick out of that line. Mindy says there are tons of things he’s not Catholic about, like his divorce (“I’m annulled.”) or not having sex before he was married (“I found a way.”) but it doesn’t matter because Mindy is Hindu, “And we can do basically anything.”

“I don’t care what you say to that giant elephant up there! According to my guy, this is wrong!”

Back when I first started watching this show, I wondered if, when Mindy and Danny finally got together, they would broach the religion topic. I love that it happened on accident, this early on, and in this way, because it’s adorable without being too mean on either side.

“Danny, I just really want to kiss you. Why are your lips so scrumptious?”
“I don’t know, they just are.”

She also says his eyelashes look like a pony’s, and then they’re kissing again, until Danny pushes her away a third time. Poor guy. That’s when Mindy admits that it’s hard for her to dump guys, “It’s actually a lot easier for me to get dumped…” Ding ding ding!

Hey! Dr. Reed is back! So British and jaunty and annoyed with everything, I missed that guy. He has good news: The OB/GYN for the New York Metropolitan Ballet has had a heart attack, which means new clients! Cards on the table: this storyline wasn’t super interesting to me, because it consisted mostly of Peter acting like a bored fratboy jerk, and I like Peter a lot more when he acts like he does in the second episode. So I’ll cut right to the chase on this one: Peter teams up with the midwives, then yells at a bunch of ballerinas, and they don’t get the new clients.

We do get the info that Mindy is banned from Lincoln Center, “Because apparently there is a three strikes policy for falling in the fountain there!”

That night, Mindy sets a stage that is sure to drive Cliff away: She’s wearing a Laura Ingalls-esque nightgown and sitting on the toilet, doors wide open, as she talks on the phone with her psychic. Cliff is clearly discomfited, and Mindy tries a variety of things that should make him run screaming from her apartment, but he gets a call and is instantly distracted. Mindy texts Danny that she should be single soon, and his response: “Who is this? This is Dan.” Oh Danny.

Bad news: Cliff’s grandmother died, and he’s devastated. Mindy has no choice but to let him stay over.

Danny’s sitting on the edge of Mindy’s desk the next morning, clad in a leather jacket like he didn’t even stop by his office before coming to see if Mindy was kissable yet. She begs him not to be mad at her, but she couldn’t do it because “Someone very close to him died!” Danny looks affected for a moment, until he learns that it was Cliff’s grandmother. “No grown man is devastated when he loses a grandparent, come on, that is an excuse! You don’t want to break up with him!” Mindy insists she’s already broken up with Cliff in her heart space, but Community has taught us that heart spaces lie, so I don’t blame Danny for being skeptical. He’s ready to cut sling, because he went all in with that kiss and honestly, even though we love Mindy and we totally get why this is happening, she’s still sending him mixed signals. Danny doesn’t know how to love halfway, as evidenced by his failed marriage; hell, he doesn’t even know how to casually date halfway, considering the woman in his building that he called “psycho” even though he led her on! He’s an all or nothing sort of guy, and with Mindy, who he’s clearly had intense feelings for, that instinct is even stronger.

But Mindy is Mindy, she’s great for Danny because she cuts through all of that fussing and ramp-ups to diatribes and she makes him listen. She forces him to sit down and she says they’re not going to pretend the plane didn’t happen. They just need to wait, and in the meantime, Danny can go talk to Cliff for proof that he’s truly upset. That sounds like fun!

Danny brings Cliff some of his homebrewed beer, Dr. Dan’s Funky Ale, which is amazing. I love that Danny’s a homebrewer, that’s a special breed of person. Cliff is truly devastated: “No person should ever have to bury their grandparent.” Oh Cliff. Just a couple days ago you sang Jewel on repeat for three hours. I would go as far as saying that you’re not well-adjusted. In the course of the ensuing conversation, Danny learns that Cliff and Mindy spent the night together. Like, together-together.

Danny asks Mindy, in a hilariously soft and offhand way, “Did you cheat on me with Cliff?” If you don’t think that’s funny then I don’t want to know what makes you laugh. That’s hilarious. He drags her into the nurse’s station, where he tells Morgan and Tamra (hi, Tamra!) to scram. He pulls over the skeleton and tells Mindy to “Show me on this what you did to Cliff last night.” It turns out it was basically some over-the-clothes groping (“I massaged his jeans.” “Was he in the jeans?”) but Danny’s deeply unhappy with that. Mindy hilariously says, “Cliff might have my hand, but you have my heart.” Oh, also, she needs Danny to write the eulogy, because somehow Cliff can’t write it himself and Mindy doesn’t want him to know that she didn’t write that email… even though that would fix this whole situation pretty seamlessly. Danny hurries out of the office, agitated and hurt.

It’s the day of Cliff’s grandmother’s funeral, and Danny shows up for no reason. “You’re barely friends with Cliff!” Danny challenges her to ask him anything about Cliff: “Eyes? Deep sky blue. Favorite beer? Dr. Dan’s Funky Ale.” Cliff thanks them both for being there, then backhandedly reveals that his Gram would’ve hated Mindy because she was such a racist. Good thing Mindy wrote the eulogy! Danny pipes up, “I’m really excited for this eulogy,” which is probably the best-worst thing anyone has ever said.

Morgan comes up, sobbing about grandmothers and stuff, as Mindy reluctantly takes Cliff’s hand. Morgan’s wearing black scrubs to this funeral, by the way, which is just so Morgan. The Mindy-penned eulogy is a work of art.

“I’d like to say a few words, if I may, to honor the woman we all know as Gram, which is short for Grandma. Which in itself, is short for ‘grandmother.’ But her real name wasn’t Gram, it was {find out real name from Cliff}. When an old person dies, it isn’t as tragic as someone taken from us too soon, like Anna Nicole Smith, but irregardless — mmm — we feel… sadliness. To quote Kendrick Lamar in his song, ‘Expletive Don’t Kill My Vibe’ — you know what, let’s jump ahead a little bit here… We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I’m sure Gram had no idea her head would explode. There’s always one reason more important than any other, that you should just be with that person, or persons, because you can’t imagine life without them. At any moment, there’s plenty of reasons not to spend time with someone, you’re busy, you’re fighting, you’re surfing the internet, hold for laughs.”

When Mindy puts her hand over her eyes in shame, Danny glances over at her and smiles like the smitten kitten he is. He takes her hand, much to her surprise, as Cliff gets to the part about being with the people who are important, and then he pulls her out of the pew as Cliff nears the end of the best eulogy ever.

They go by the vigil candles, which are cut off from view of the rest of the church I guess, and they start kissing, but Mindy is worried about “Bloody Mary.” Danny corrects her, then asks God to send them a sign if they’re doing something wrong. There is no sign, so they kiss some more, only to knock over a candle and set the world on fire.

Outside, after the fire is put out, Mindy lies to Cliff and says, “I knocked over a candle with my buttocks.” Cliff immediately forgives her, and Mindy looks like she wants to vomit, so Danny gives them a moment alone, using the excuse that he’s gonna go get some “soda pop” because he’s from the 1950’s. Then Mindy finally, finally levels with Cliff.

Mindy: “I kissed Danny. And I don’t think it’s a one-time thing. I think I have feelings for him. And I wanna pursue them.”

Danny reappears, unsuspecting, and Cliff punches him in the jaw. He vows that Gram, “A cruel and unforgiving woman,” will haunt them for their treachery. I can see why he misses her so much. She sounds lovely.

So the path is clear! Mindy and Danny are together, no Cliff or Casey or Josh to interrupt them now! They’re at her apartment later, and Danny’s holding a frozen pizza bagel to his lip and muttering about nitrates as Mindy just stares at him adoringly. They start kissing as romantic music plays, and then Mindy’s bulb blows out in her lamp. They both gasp, “Gram!” but I think they’ll be okay. They have bigger things to worry about, like meningitis and sex tapes!

Next: Meningitis and a sex tape! What are the odds?!

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Favorites of 2013: TV Ships and Friendships

This is the big one–the one with our favorite TV ships and friendships/partnerships/bromances/what-have-you of 2013.

Ships

Oliver Queen / Felicity Smoak

{Arrow}

ship_oliverfelicity

Felicity: You killed again, and I am the one who put you into the position where you had to make that kind of choice.
Oliver: He had you, and he was going to hurt you. There was no choice to make.

All three of us are big fans of Oliver and Felicity. They complement each other really well, they have great chemistry, and they deeply care for each other. And they’re just so pretty together. —Kerry

Danny Castellano / Mindy Lahiri

{The Mindy Project}

ship_mindydanny

Mindy: “You should get the Philadelphia roll. Danny says it’s amazing, it’s his favorite.”

Mindy: “Haven’t you ever had to do something because of work?”
Jason: “Yeah, sure, I just went to my boss’s kid’s graduation, but that doesn’t mean I’ve memorized her favorite sushi order.”

These two snuck up on me. I love their bickering, their friendship, and the way that they seem to be in love with each other without even realizing it. —Kerry

Monroe / Rosalee Calvert

{Grimm}

ship_rosaleemonroe

Monroe and Rosalee’s romance could have seemed shoe-horned into the main narrative, and the differences in their upbringings could be overlooked, but the evolution of their relationship was natural, and they are confronting their contradictory natures in a way that’s both realistic and believable. —Moff

April Ludgate / Andy Dwyer

{Parks and Recreation}

ship_andyapril

“I’m going to tell you a secret about everyone else’s job: No one knows what they’re doing. Deep down, everyone is just faking it until they figure it out. And you will, too, because you are awesome and everyone else sucks.”

This is probably the relationship most would have believed would fail, but it hasn’t. The love and support they show each other is unique and genuine. —Becca

Barney Stinson / Robin Scherbatsky

{How I Met Your Mother}

ship_barneyrobin

Barney: “Our wedding is gonna be legendary.”
Robin: “No ‘wait for it?'”
Barney: “I’ve got you, I don’t have to wait for it anymore.”

Who knew they’d make it all the way to the neverending wedding weekend? The writing isn’t doing them any favors (they keep having to spin their wheels as the writers try to fill the entire season with pointless shenanigans) but they’re still growing into a supportive, if unconventional, couple. —Kerry

Jemma Simmons / Grant Ward

{Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.}

ship_wardsimmons

F.Z.Z.T. is the episode I started shipping these two together. It is also the episode I finally started to like Ward. The scene where Ward mocks himself and Jemma corrects him sealed it for me. Plus: height difference. —Becca

Kensi Blye / Marty Deeks

{NCIS: LA}

ship_kensideeks

Deeks: “I’ve never had a girl give me her knife before. Does that mean we’re official?”
Kensi: “You know sometimes a knife is just a knife.”

Ah, one of the great ‘will they, won’t they’ partnerships of the police procedural world. As much as I continue to hold out hope Eric Christian Olsen will one day return to Greendale, I can’t put into words how pleased I am Kensi and Deeks have finally taken the logical next step. —Moff

Joan Watson / Marcus Bell

{Elementary}

ship_belljoan

Bell [to Sherlock]: “Where’s your better half?”

Bell and Joan have always had a unique chemistry; Bell initially liked Joan better than he liked Sherlock, and Joan always had a deep respect for Bell’s talents as an investigator. This season, there was a one-off line where Bell complimented Joan in her bulletproof vest, and suddenly, it felt like there was something there. It’s never overt: even when Joan brings him meals after his injury, it’s played as Joan just being a nice person. I won’t be mad if they never date, but I think they’d be great together. —Kerry

Ryan King / Carrie

{Go On}

ship_ryancarrie

Ryan: “I know we work together, and that’s weird. I don’t know what I want. I just- I just want it to still be a possibility between us.”
Carrie: “You’re right, it’s complicated. We work together… I quit. Ball’s in your court.”

The show got canceled, but before it ended Carrie kissed Ryan and told him the ball was in his court. I would like to believe this May/December romance actually worked out. —Becca

Ben Wyatt / Leslie Knope

{Parks and Recreation}

ship_benleslie

“Your heart is in the right place. Your heart and your butt.”

They’re married! They’re still amazing together! And sometimes I go back and watch the early seasons, where Mark Brendanowicz calls Leslie a dork and treats her enthusiasm like it’s an annoying little quirk, and I get really, really, insanely happy that Leslie found someone who loves that about her. —Kerry

Rumplestiltskin / Belle

{Once Upon a Time}

ship_rumbelle

“You were the only one who could ever see past it… past the mask of the monster.”

While the Charmings have already had their somewhat happy ending, it feels like Rumplestiltskin and Belle will never get theirs. The pairing is beautiful, but it is hard for them to catch a break (especially after the winter finale). —Becca

Harvey Specter / Donna Paulsen

{Suits}

ship_harveydonna
Harvey: “You and Stephen, it bothers me. I know it’s not fair, but it does.”
Donna: “Good.”

I just want them to be together and happy. Is that too much to ask? —Kerry

Friendships

Shawn Spencer & Burton Guster

{Psych}

friendship_shawngus

Shawn: “I think we should call the police and let the chips fall where they may.”
Gus: “You’re talking like a real white guy right now, Shawn. Brothers don’t get the benefit of the doubt. I will not rot in a cell. You said we were in this together!”
Shawn: “C’mon, man. You know I’m gonna bake you a cake with a gun in it.”

Their friendship has only gotten better over this past year. Gus supported Shawn during his breakup with Jules, and Shawn learned to share Gus when Gus started a serious relationship with a woman. —Kerry

Sherlock Holmes & Joan Watson {Elementary}

friendship_joansherlock

Joan: “You named a bee after me?”

Best partnership on TV. But, you know… besides all the other partnerships we have listed here. —Kerry

Team Arrow (Oliver Queen, John Diggle, Felicity Smoak)

{Arrow}

friendship_teamarrow

Felicity: “What are you doing?”
Diggle: “Calling 911.”
Felicity: “Digg, wait!”
Diggle: “We can’t wait!”
Felicity: “How are we supposed to explain this? Everyone’s gonna find out Oliver is the vigilante!”
Diggle: “It won’t matter if he’s dead! Felicity, we can’t save him!”
Felicity: “I know! You’re right. We can’t.”

They all have their own special friendships with each other, and they work well as a team. It will be interesting to see how dynamics might change when/if someone else fully joins the team. —Becca

Ichabod Crane & Abbie Mills

{Sleepy Hollow}

friendship_ichyabbie

The friendship has grown so quickly in just a few episodes. It is a strong friendship, and their camaraderie is enjoyable. —Becca

Sarah Manning & Felix Dawkins

{Orphan Black}

friendship_sarahfee

Felix: Sarah.
Sarah: What?
Felix: Um, just don’t die… ’cause your first funeral was just agonizing enough.

Felix has endured a lot (Sarah’s threatening ex-boyfriend, obstruction of justice, countless police interrogations, and oh yeah, all of that clone stuff) and he’s still deeply loyal to Sarah. That’s what family is for, right? —Kerry

Samantha Shaw & Root

{Person of Interest}

friendship_rootshaw

While former government agent Shaw hesitates to give anarchist hacker Root too much free reign, the morally dubious Root’s willingness to take immediate action appeals to the trigger-happy Shaw. —Moff

George Altman & Noah Werner

{Suburgatory}

friendship_georgenoah

The news of Alan Tudyk no longer being a regular on Suburgatory depressed me. I found George’s and Noah’s friendship was one of my main highlights for the show. In some ways, they don’t appear to have a lot in common, but the time they spent on screen together were some of the best moments of the show. —Becca

Ron Swanson & Leslie Knope

{Parks and Recreation}

friendship_ronleslie

Ron: “You are a wonderful person. Your friendship means a lot to me. And you look very beautiful.”
Leslie: “Okay, weirdo. Let’s go.”

He walked her down the aisle. Twice. He also punched out a jackass at her wedding. Leslie, in turn, organized a beautiful wedding present for Ron: an intricate trip up to the Lagavulin distillery in Scotland. It moved Ron to tears. —Kerry

Lance Sweets & Seeley Booth

{Bones}

friendship_boothsweets

Dr. Lance Sweets and Agent Seeley Booth have grown from bickering antagonists to friends and coworkers who trust each other’s instincts. —Moff

Ryan King & Steven

{Go On}

friendship_ryansteven

Ryan had his support group, but he also has his best friend, Steven. Steven was still the one who understood who Ryan was, and wanted to be there for him. In my head, they are still the best of friends and double date together (Ryan with Carrie and Steven with Lauren). —Becca

Quentin Lance & Felicity Smoak

{Arrow}

friendship_lancefelicity

Oliver: “Felicity…”
Felicity: “Already on it.”
Lance [amazed]: “How the hell can she do that?”

Felicity and (former) Det. Lance have had only a few instances where they’ve worked together, but I think future episodes will reveal their values are more in line than they currently realize. —Moff

Dust Yourself Off and Try Again

This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Mindy Project, “Christmas Party Sex Trap.”

This show continued its short tradition of having an amazing Christmas episode (and it included a callback to last year by playing “Last Christmas” toward the end, right when Mindy’s feeling sad) that delivered on all fronts. It even had Maria Menounos!

mindy

The cold open was pretty great; we watched as Mindy purchased a small Christmas tree for the office, tied it to her back, dragged it across Manhattan, hauled it upstairs to the office, and found everyone decorating a prettier tree without her. She promptly hauled that tree up to their balcony and threw it down the stairs. And credits! (Poor tree.)

Presumably, there was going to be a longer break between the last episode and this one, since Dr. Reed is returning from fat camp looking like his former season 1 self. I was wondering how long they were going to make him keep that gut, it’s nice to have him back!

 

Mindy, meanwhile, is on the subway with Cliff, who is sleepy and unshaved thanks to a late-night fight with Heather. She’s a little too gleeful over the fact that Cliff is close to breaking up with Heather, if only it weren’t for his pesky concert tickets this month. (Cliff really seems to like concerts.)

Mindy decides to throw a Christmas party for the building in a thinly-veiled attempt to expedite Cliff’s breakup, and you gotta admire her spirit. She lists the “randos” that work in the building, mentioning the notary public (remember when Danny was going to take his driving test, and he kept calling it the “notary republic”?) and the lawyers down the hall, and Danny figures things out pretty quickly from there. He takes it like a champ, though, and hands Mindy her Secret Santa gift from him: medical gauze. You can’t talk me out of the notion that Danny traded like a mad man until he got Mindy, because he’s all smitten and stuff. Just let me have this one!

 

Through a lot of arguing and a creepy throwaway line from Morgan, the party turns into a dry and gluten-free gala which sounds terrible. One of those things would be fine: I can handle gluten-free, I can handle no booze. But both?! I was totally on Mindy’s side when she got that booze bra.

Peter and Jeremy are responsible for delivering invitations, which translates to them slipping papers under doors while Peter ruminates over the number of taxidermists in their building, and during the process they become “sober buddies.” Peter will keep Jeremy from eating junk, and Jeremy will keep Peter from drinking. The matchup potentials in this cast are neverending.

At the elevators, Danny excitedly gives Mindy hints about the gingerbread “structure” he’s building for Christmas this year: “It’s the house of a man that’s very important to this country!” I insanely thought, “Wow, Danny’s gonna build Fallingwater out of gingerbread?!” but my husband practically yelled “Monticello!” and lo and behold, he ended up being right. (Sidenote: I got him to watch this show on the premise that “Danny Castellano is the angrier, Italian version of you!” and this definitely helps prove that theory.)

They encounter the midwife, Brendan Deslaurier, arm-in-arm with Maria Menounos, who happens to be Mindy’s hair idol! Mindy is freaked that Deslaurier scored such a hottie, and she doesn’t appear to be comforted by Danny coming to her defense when Deslaurier makes a snide-ish comment about her singledom. He turns the knife even more (“Holidays are always hardest on the lonely”) which causes Mindy to blurt out that she’s dating a lawyer from their building! Too bad you invited everyone from the building to that party, eh, Min?

Danny calls Mindy a “little nutjob” after dubbing the party a “Christmas Party Sex Trap” while he guides her across the street with his hand on the small of her back. After thanking Danny for calling her “little,” Mindy lays out her plan to seduce Cliff, with “Blurred Lines” playing in the background of the scenario.. It even includes a sexy rendition of “Santa Baby.” Why do people feel the need to say it’s going to be a sexy performance of that song? Are there people in the world who sing that song without the express intent of seducing someone? Anyway, Danny has a different “Santa Baby”-related rant: “It’s disgusting! It sexualizes Santa!” Mindy’s four-step plan finishes on the snow-covered balcony as she makes out with Cliff, but Danny bluntly says it’s the stupidest plan in the history of everything. Mindy sweetly tells him that he’s wrong, and she looks so sweet and hopeful that you can’t help but want her to be right… even if you’re also wishing she’d just kiss the guy standing right in front of her.

At the actual party, Mindy is wearing a much prettier dress than the one from her four-step scenario, and she asks Danny to pour the wine into her wine bra. She mentions that it has an added benefit: the bra expands as it fills with wine. Danny’s voice cracks when he says, “You should wear that every day.” And seriously, he can’t stop staring.

 

The Hot Man music plays (you know, the music that played for Bill Hader, and Ed Helms, and James Franco… there might have been others, but those are the ones I remember) as Cliff walks in, and Mindy puts her plan into action. She finishes step 1 with relative ease: ignoring Cliff as she talks to the most interesting man at the party.

She sneaks into the Hot Pipe Room (her words, not mine, the suggestiveness is up to you) where Danny’s wearing his old man glasses as he works on his “structure.” He asks how far she is on her plan:

Danny: “What step of the Man Trap are you on? Hit him over the head with a rolling pin and pull down his pants?”
Mindy: “Ha ha ha, you know I don’t own any cooking stuff, joke’s on you!”

Then she spots the “structure” and gets all excited, but Danny won’t let her see it until the unveiling.

Danny: “I’ll give you a hint: it’s located in Virginia.”
Mindy: “Mount Rushmore?”
Danny: “The Massachusetts public school system has really let you down.”
Mindy: “I’m sorry? I’m a good looking doctor. I think I did fine.”

She reprimands him for not putting more thought into his Secret Santa gifts, which reminds Danny to hand her her next gift: a stapler. At this point, we all knew he was building up to something pretty great, right? Right.

Deslaurier is harumphing around the party, making an ass of himself and generally treating Maria Menounos like property, while Peter lusts after Maria and whines about needing to drink in order to build up the courage to approach her. Deslaurier eventually makes it to Cliff, and instantly assumes he is the lawyer Mindy is dating, but Cliff misunderstands and thinks Mindy is dating someone else. Disappointed, Cliff leaves the party, right before Mindy is set to start her “Santa Baby” routine. When she realizes Cliff is gone, she decides not to do it, and Maria takes over instead. (I’m not sure if this episode wanted me to hate Maria Menounos, but I kinda do now.) Mindy retires to her office.

Jeremy, tempted by frosting Maria had put on his nose, is spiraling. Maria gets dumped by Deslaurier (he’s always treating women like crap, are we supposed to find that cute?) as Peter spies on her.

Danny finds Mindy sitting on the floor of her office. He asks if she’s sad, but she’s not: “I’m heartbroken.” And she looks it. She’s not being melodramatic, she’s not laid out on the floor begging for people to pity her. She’s alone and quiet, crunched up in a ball in the corner of her office. She worries that she’s a “pathetic loser,” for concocting this whole thing, which I don’t think she is at all. Maybe it’s not above board, to go after a guy in a relationship, but at least she took that chance. That’s the best thing about Mindy: she’s always going to believe in love.

Danny thinks he has something that will cheer her up, and it’s fantastic. I can’t even put it into words, which is why gifs are the greatest thing to happen to the internet. He presses play on his iPod, and Aaliyah’s “Try Again” starts playing, taking me right back to middle school, and taking Danny right back to when he first met Mindy.

 

“When you first started working here, you used to play this nonstop. It was the first thing about you that ever really annoyed me.”

 

“I know, it’s stupid, so, uh, anyway, I can get you a gift card or write a personal check.”

 

But Mindy is touched beyond words. She says she loved it, and then hugs him tightly, and then they have A Moment. Unfortunately for Danny, he probably pictured doing this dance in a different kind of setting. He didn’t anticipate Mindy being sad or needing cheering up, so I wonder what kind of message he was trying to send here if Mindy’s plan had worked? Was he going to do this dance as Mindy glowed with the happiness of a new relationship with a man she really likes? Would it have been an overt declaration of his feelings? We’ll never know, will we?

Peter bursts into the office searching for Mindy’s booze bra so he can get drunk enough to hit on Maria Menounos, then Jeremy bursts in with only the bottom quarter of Monticello, having been trapped in the closet with it when he was vulnerable, then Morgan bursts in with a Morgan issue and senses the weird vibe. Danny and Mindy glance at each other in alarm, which means they both felt it.

Jeremy frets about what he’s just done (it IS some pretty serious binge eating behavior) and says, “Maybe I’m just a fat guy! I mean, I’m in the right country for it, and I’m tall, so I wear it well.” Peter and Jeremy work through their fear issues pretty quickly, which is good because Mindy’s yelling at them to vacate her office.

She and Danny are alone again, but she says she wanted to go get a breath of fresh air, aka go to the balcony, but Danny soberly tells her that he’s going to stay at the party. Maybe he chickened out, or maybe he just doesn’t like the timing of things with Mindy having such strong feelings for Cliff, but either way, he very consciously made the decision not to take the next step with Mindy. They both know it, though Mindy hides her disappointment well. Danny seems to regret it a bit after Mindy leaves, but Danny also isn’t the type to dwell. Much.

Mindy talks to a pigeon on the snow-covered balcony as “Last Christmas” plays faintly from the party, but then Cliff appears with a Christmas cookie in hand. “Thank you! Gluten is my favorite food!” Dude really knows the quickest way to Mindy’s heart. We see Danny appear in the window above them, watching as the following scene unfolds.

Cliff: “I know you just started dating somebody–”
Mindy: “Wait, what?”
Cliff: “Yeah, the midwife and the lady from Extra told me? And when I heard that, I thought, ‘Cliff, you know, that window is closing, and you’re gonna miss your chance.’ So I left, and I broke it off with Heather. And I know this is a little bit of a long shot, and I don’t know who this guy is you’re dating, he’s probably the stockbroker, a racecar driver, something really cool–”
Mindy: “No, it’s you! I lied and said it was you, because I’m crazy!”
Cliff: “What?”
Mindy: “It’s the stockbroker.”
Cliff: “Anyway, the point is, I don’t want you to be with him, because I want you to be with me.”
Mindy: “I want me to be with you, too.”

It starts snowing just as they kiss, which means Mindy’s plan didn’t happen perfectly, but she was still right in the end. Upstairs, Danny watches as he realizes he may have missed his opportunity.

 

Call me crazy, but I think they might have a winner with Cliff. Not only is he good looking, successful, funny, and nice, but he treats Mindy right and he seems to really respect her. They have a lot of back and forth, but the fact that he assumed she was dating a “really cool” guy is pretty telling. He’s a far cry from Casey, who basically called Mindy fat when he proposed… and Casey was the best of her exes. What I’m trying to say is: I’ll be heartbroken when/if Cliff turns out to be a jerk just like the rest of them.

Oh, and somehow, Maria Menounos is shocked that a guy is willing to drive her to some Connecticut tree farm overnight. Like that doesn’t happen to beautiful women like her on the regular. Come on, Maria Menounos.

Winky Face!

I bet you didn’t watch The Mindy Project last night. Know how I know that? Because it has dismal ratings and it is perpetually predicted to be cancelled.

I would wag my finger at you and say “You should be ashamed!” but the truth is, I’m part of the problem. I dutifully followed Mindy Kaling from The Office to her new show last season, but I found it off-putting from the start. The title seemed to say it all: “We couldn’t land on a good name for the show, so instead of ‘The Untitled Mindy Kaling Project,’ we’ll just call it ‘The Mindy Project’ as a placeholder.” I found Mindy off-putting as she crashed her ex’s wedding, drove a bicycle into a pool, and spouted out more pop culture references than Abed Nadir. She was surrounded by equally polarizing characters: a male coworker with whom she has a fling, another male coworker who tells her she needs to drop fifteen pounds, an overly accented Jersey receptionist, a curiously placed best friend, and another mousy receptionist who, at the time, seemed to exist only to even out the numbers.

I didn’t stick with the show past the second episode, but I also didn’t swear it off. I figured if it made it to a full order, maybe I’d give it a chance then. Then one day in June, I was sick and flat on the floor, with a free trial for Hulu Plus and a brand-new flatscreen to watch it on, so I figured why not?

Turns out, the show did a lot of retooling in the first half of the season. In fact, the revolving cast of characters is almost a cornerstone of The Mindy Project at this point. The central cast remains the same: Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling), Dr. Daniel Castellano (Chris Messina), Dr. Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks), and head nurse Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz). Everyone else has either left the show since the premiere or has joined it somewhere along the way. The best friend and the Jersey receptionist were jettisoned (Anna Camp will do just fine, and Amanda Setton has already landed a series regular role on The Crazy Ones) while other characters and recurring guest stars have filled the void.

Mindy herself has grown a great deal since that drunken bike ride into a pool. She still enjoys her flings, her colorful clothes, and her outspoken opinions on pop culture, but she’s also come into her own thanks to her great group of friends.

By far, the driving force behind the show’s moderate success is the relationship between Mindy and Danny, which starts out as antagonistic before it slowly blossoms into friendship. They’re not quite Sam and Diane, because who is? But they have amazing chemistry and Messina in particular is fantastic at building the slow burn. His expressions usually give away his true feelings for Mindy, and those along with his constant rants about the most ridiculous things (“Coffee should have two flavors: cream and sugar.”) make him an utter delight to watch.

While Danny’s been slowly coming to terms with his feelings, Mindy still appears oblivious, both to her own feelings and to Danny’s feelings for her. Instead, she’s forged this amazing friendship with him (and with the other characters on the show) just from sheer force of will.

 

Basically, I can admit when I’m wrong. I still don’t enjoy the early Mindy episodes, this show took a bit longer to find its groove than most do, but while other shows suffer from a sophomore slump, this show doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the term. All of the characters are finding their voices, and the writing has gotten pretty amazing. But allow me to back up a little, just to make sure you’re all caught up.

Last season, Mindy went to Haiti with her boyfriend, Casey (played by Anders Holm, of Workaholics fame) but returned at the beginning of this season thanks to a gallbladder infection. The Haiti trip was a huge step for Mindy, who did away with all of her material trappings in favor of doing charity work with her minister boyfriend. She excitedly accepted his marriage proposal in Haiti, and expected to marry him when he returned to the States again. But when Casey decided to quit being a minister to search for his true calling, Mindy had to make the painful decision to break up with him.

 

It was unexpectedly heartbreaking to watch. Mindy was always selfish and self-centered in her relationships and men often treated her badly. This time, Casey wasn’t doing anything wrong, he wanted her to go with him as he followed his dreams, but it wasn’t right for Mindy. She finally had a guy that was good for her, made her smile, and treated her right, but she was never going to be happy moving around all the time. Those are the toughest kinds of breakups.

In the next episode, in a haze of breakup-driven grief, Mindy encounters a lawyer named Cliff Gilbert, played by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Glenn Howerton. He’ll always be Dennis Reynolds to me, which means I’ll always be suspicious of him turning out to be a real a-hole by the time his arc on this show is over.

Possibly this is what Cliff does in his free time. We don’t know his life.

In the meantime, Howerton has great chemistry with Kaling, even surprising me, a longtime Sunny fan, with his ability to be sweet and a little vulnerable. Bravo, Dennis Reynolds! Who knew you had it in you?

 

Since their first encounter, Mindy’s been distracted with her breakup and trying to put her life back together, which has given Cliff a chance to get to know her from a distance. He even got to talk to her outside of work, when Danny hired Cliff to sue his ex-wife for putting on an art exhibit with his nude pictures. Cliff was impressed with Mindy’s outfit (“Usually you look like a pinata.” “Okay, I like to wear colors. And yes, I’m usually full of candy.”) and seemed to really enjoy her company, despite the fact that she was there with her boyfriend. Cliff hasn’t reappeared since then, which brings us to last night’s episode.

After encountering Cliff (and his hot runner-up Miss Universe girlfriend) in the elevator on a Friday night, Mindy finally sort of admits to Morgan that she has feelings for Cliff.

“Even if I liked him, it doesn’t matter. He’s with the second-hottest woman in the universe. I’m not even the second-hottest woman on this floor.”

As if her night isn’t bad enough, Mindy lost her purse, which had her phone, keys, money… you’d think she’d be more frazzled and concerned, considering the rampant identity theft these days, but true to Mindy form, she’s largely unconcerned with her belongings and just wants a place to stay for tonight. She seems confident that her purse will turn up in the lost and found, which is a special Mindy Lahiri brand of confidence.

In case I was losing you, here’s a gif of Danny and Jeremy with a puppy.

As far as the Playing House trope goes, this is one of the best executions I’ve seen on TV. It’s actually fitting that Mindy would 1) lose her purse, 2) not have a spare set of keys to get back into her own apartment, and 3) be persuasive enough to convince Danny, who lives nearby, to let her stay at his apartment for the night. Danny’s never been particularly good at saying no to Mindy anyway.

“… You can’t get on my computer, because last time, you changed my Wifi network name to ‘Leave Miley Alone’ and I don’t know how to change it back! Rule number two: coasters, coasters, coasters!”

Mindy’s doldrums persist as she and Danny walk home, and she finally admits to him that she likes someone, but she adds that it can’t work out because he’s out of her league, and besides, “whenever we see each other, we fight.” In a classic sitcom misunderstanding, Danny thinks Mindy’s talking about him. He looks scared, but not horrified.

Then they encounter his “crazy neighbor” Amy in the lobby of his building, and Danny hurriedly asks Mindy to pretend to be his girlfriend. Mindy excitedly elevates the situation: “He found true love… with his fiancee, which is me.” She comes up with an amazing love story for them, some of which is actually true to life: they couldn’t stand each other at first, but eventually they grew to love each other. Other aspects are complete fiction, like the fact that they met in St. Barts, or that Mindy is pregnant with Danny’s son. Danny grimaces his way through the exchange, but again, he doesn’t look like he wants to vomit (which, sorry, he always looked like he wanted to weep and die in his scenes with his ex-wife, Christina, played by Chloe Sevigny) so that was a promising development.

 

Meanwhile, Morgan and Dr. Peter Prentice (Adam Pally, of Happy Endings fame) discover Mindy’s purse thanks to her phone, which is buzzing with texts from Cliff. Just when you think you can’t take any more, Morgan and Peter decide to text Cliff back as Mindy. (Morgan is a Cliff/Mindy shipper through and through, which is adorable.) Cliff reveals that his date didn’t go well, and his texting Mindy after a failed date means he’s totally into her. Morgan and Peter keep up the texting until Peter forces Morgan to send a winky face. Morgan: “Are you kidding me? A winky face is like Emoji porn!” When Cliff sends a winky face back, the game is on.

Mindy is wearing Danny’s clothes, eating his only snacks (sugar cubes, which I’m assuming he keeps on hand for his Old Fashioneds, in which case, shouldn’t he also have maraschino cherries?), and lounging on his couch. She nudges him with her feet, which is probably gross to a good portion of the human race, but it’s adorable even if it agitates a hypervigilant Danny. He still thinks Mindy is crushing on him, and he’s not even annoyed by her–he just wants his space so he can figure out his feelings. The funny part is, Mindy’s just being overbearing because that’s who she is, and she takes Danny’s awkwardness as him just being grumpy about having another person in his space. The dual misunderstandings work out really well in this case, which is why this episode is so delightful and impressive.

Danny escapes to his bedroom to watch the nature channel, but Mindy can’t sleep and comes to join him, hopping onto the bed and giggling at the mating frogs on TV. Danny can’t take it anymore and tells Mindy that they need to talk, but they’re interrupted by his crazy neighbor, who is sitting on the couch in the living room.

 

When Morgan and Peter escalate the texting to “What are you wearing?” Cliff is intrigued… and decides to head over to Mindy’s house. Booty call: engaged. The sad part of this story is that this is an actual conversation Mindy would’ve had with Cliff, had she not lost her phone that night. So while we’re treated to scenes of her and Danny being adorable together, we’re also agonizing over the fact that she’s missing out on a sure thing with Cliff, who still seems like a nice dude even if he does turn out to be more like Dennis Reynolds than anyone would want.

Horrified, Peter and Morgan decide to throw together an amazing last-minute Veterans Day party at Mindy’s apartment to cover for her absence (they say she’s on a salsa run) which effectively takes the wind out of Cliff’s sails. By the way, I think the Ike Barinholtz-Adam Pally combination is a winner. They continue to text (at some point it crosses into sext territory, I think, it’s not clear when it’s on a primetime sitcom) during the party, while Cliff plays a wicked game of Scrabble against Peter.

Mindy gets to slap Danny in mock-rage for cheating on her with his neighbor, then asks for every excruciating detail of Danny’s sex life. Mindy discovers that Amy got into the apartment with her key, which Danny had given her, because they’d been spending most nights together. Mindy hauls Danny into the bathroom and demands that he admit he’s not a carefree player who just hooks up with women with no feelings. He cops to it rather quickly, probably because all of his defenses are lowering thanks to Mindy’s constant, but unsuspecting, assault. She forces him to admit that he doesn’t want a relationship to his neighbor, but thanks to a slip-up, Amy becomes suspicious that Danny and Mindy aren’t really dating. In an effort to keep up the ruse, they embrace and insist that they’re very much in love.

 

 

You can see the exact moment that Danny finally realizes his true feelings for Mindy. But this scene is actually a one-two punch of emotions for Danny; the first part is realization, the second part is actually knowing what the feelings are. “This is real,” Amy says confidently. “Danny never looked at me like that.”

The episode itself is also a one-two punch of emotion, which is why it’s so great, from start to finish. In the very next scene, Cliff is trying to get to Mindy, who he thinks is in the bathroom, so he can apologize. “I apologize if our texting thing got a little intense, and you got scared off. but now that I’m here, I just want to get to know you better. I think you’re really cool, and the most exciting text I got from you all night was… the first one.”

Of course, as he’s confessing his feelings to an empty room, we see a shot of Danny letting Mindy sleep in his bed, while he grabs a pillow to go sleep on the couch. But then Cliff opens the door and realizes the entire text conversation was a ruse. After a hilarious confrontation scene with Peter and Morgan, where he demands they delete the texts from Mindy’s phone, Cliff runs into Mindy’s neighbor, Heather (Ellie Kemper, from The Office), and goes home with her. Morgan decides not to delete the text conversation.

 

The next morning, Danny cooks Mindy French toast for breakfast while she reads the newspaper. “You know that guy you work with? I think you should know, you’re not out of his league. You’re great.”

That’s when Mindy drops the bomb: “When I get home, I’m gonna call Cliff and ask him out.” Poor Danny. He should be relieved, and maybe he is a little bit, but he mostly looked dejected.

Mindy arrives at work to find her purse on her desk, with a note from Morgan. She gets a voicemail from Heather, thanking her for the fun party and telling her about the great guy she hooked up with last night. Mindy looks confused for a minute… and then she discovers the texts.

This sets up a fun arc for the rest of the calendar year, because now we essentially have two triangles to deal with. Triangles usually aren’t my thing, but the Danny-Mindy-Cliff one shouldn’t be too bad since Danny will likely keep his feelings to himself for the time being. The fun is in the Mindy-Cliff-Heather triangle… because I didn’t mention this before, but Mindy and Heather only know each other because they were both dating a lawyer who was cheating on both of them. Heather trashed Mindy’s apartment and ruined her Christmas party last year, and that was over a misunderstanding. If Mindy dates Cliff now, it’ll really hit the fan.

So the question remains: Why aren’t you watching The Mindy Project?

😉