“The Mindy Project” – Mindy’s Minute episode review 1

Mindy suits up for her fifteen minutes of fame as a cab video celebrity

Mindy suits up for her fifteen minutes of fame as a cab video celebrity.

★★★½☆

Once again, we’re faced with the thoroughly average post-holiday episode of The Mindy Project. “Mindy’s Minute” had its moments, but overall it was pretty standard. To be fair, I should qualify that it’s standard for this much-improved half of the season; I’d take this over the first couple of episodes any day.

The episode opens not with the usual voiceover, but with “Women’s Health Minute With Mindy,” a really terrible, cheesy cab video Mindy made and is now proudly showing off to Danny as they grab a taxi together. Mindy’s dressed as a dog for who knows what reason (though she cites Rolf the Muppet as an inspiration), and is using a sock puppet as a costar. Clearly the target market for women’s health shorts in cabs hasn’t moved beyond Sesame Street. While it’s mildly amusing to see Mindy dressed as a dog give gynecological advice and sing, I’m with Danny and their cab driver on this one: not a good idea at all.

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For comparison’s sake, Danny shows Mindy and Jeremy the slick new commercial the midwives upstairs have put out that’s drawing so many pregnant potential clients away from their own practice. It’s full of nature shots, Brendan and Duncan walking barefoot in a field, and guest celebrity endorser Maria Menounos. Danny and Jeremy exclude Mindy from their “we need to come up with a new marketing strategy” talk on the grounds that her videos are terrible. Which, okay, is fair, but considering we haven’t gotten many official business talks among the three partners lately, I’d like to have seen Mindy get some input. Or at least some respect; I thought Danny and Jeremy were moving past the boy’s club mentality, but that’s clearly not the case.

Speaking of official business, Beverly (Beth Grant), whose firing made way for Morgan’s job, has returned as an administrative assistant following her threat of lawsuit. The catch is that she has zero idea how to work with her computer. The other catch is that she apparently doesn’t wash her hands despite working in the medical field, but since Betsey lets that slide, I will too. There’s also a new assistant-type fellow named Parker that I hadn’t noticed before; is he Shauna’s replacement? Because she hasn’t been around at all lately. I never thought I’d say this, but I kind of miss Shauna. She got some pretty funny one-liners, and her character was a good foil to Betsey’s saccharine presence.

Mindy has to deal with a patient who’s a bit of a hypochondriac and also extremely sarcastic. It’s an interesting mix, and one that I feel had the potential to be funnier. Mindy constantly second-guesses whether she’s interpreting her responses correctly, but it just wasn’t landing for me. Maybe I’m just as inept at Mindy at deciphering her. I have to say, even though I didn’t like this patient terribly much as a character, I feel the need to admit that I identified with her hardcore on the medical anxiety level. Double checking for anemia? Been there, done that.

Mindy is saved from her awful patient by the arrival of Nick and Helen, producers of the local Channel 8 news show. There’s a moment that hangs too long in which Mindy assumes they’re there just to make fun of her for the cab videos but literally everyone else realizes they’re there to invite her on the show. And surprise for no one, they want to give her a short segment to talk about women’s health. Their studies have shown that her P rating (the P stands for pity) is off the chart, and people love to keep watching people they feel bad for.

She’s reluctant at first, but after Morgan informs her that she was proclaimed a “fat loser of the week” on Tosh.0, she calls Helen back to accept. First of all, there are not sufficient words to sum up how I feel about Daniel Tosh so I’ll stick with “ugh” and ask you to picture an exasperated eye roll. Secondly, I just want to talk about how much I love that Mindy initially calls Helen and does the typical movie thing of cryptically saying “It’s Mindy, I’m in” but then immediately calls her back to clarify exactly who she is and exactly what she’s calling about. It’s always bugs me when people call each other in movies and leave mysterious messages that have no context for the other person yet everyone magically understands. So thank you, Mindy Project, for addressing that logistical problem for me here.

Danny, a longtime local news viewer and therefore an expert, coaches Mindy on all things camera angles and cautionary words before her big debut, and even accompanies her to the studio. Right after she’s been all dolled up by hair and makeup, Mindy gets a frantic call from her patient from before who’s at the hospital thinking she’s in labor (again). Danny tells her not to worry about it because that’s just the kind of person he is, but Mindy’s caring doctor instincts kick in and she heads to the hospital to confirm that her patient is in fact not going into labor for real.

Sure enough, she isn’t in labor, but she is pretty terrified, so Mindy finally makes the decision to stay with her. Sometimes Mindy’s personality as a doctor is questionable (like that time she got way too involved in her teen patient’s love life), and other times (like now), she’s clearly great at what she does. The two of them tune into the local news to watch Danny take Mindy’s place and immediately forget all his own advice under the glare of the studio lights, which was admittedly funnier than I thought it was going to be when he first took the stage.

In the B-plot that the episode itself barely cared about, the rest of the office (well, Betsey, Morgan, and that Parker guy) teams up to help Beverly learn to attach a file to an email. After an admittedly great illustration of what it’s like to watch helplessly over someone’s shoulder as they struggle with the most basic mouse movements, they all bond over a job well done. Well, until Jeremy comes over and informs them that the attachment is some kind of sexual Aladdin fanart. It should be funny, I suppose, but mostly it’s just a detail that comes out of left field and leaves me thinking that it’s probably grounds for getting Beverly fired again.

It all ends cheerily of course, with Mindy showing how her puppet show about urinary tract infections would have gone to the applause of everyone in the break room. I think we can probably assume Mindy’s dreams of local news stardom have come to an end, but if the show decided to run with it for another episode or two, I think it could prove to be interesting.

Favorite Lines from “Mindy’s Minute”

Mindy: “I get recognized anywhere between zero and three times a day.”

Helen: “We’re going to have to make an offer to a police officer who shot himself in the foot at show and tell.”

Morgan, to Mindy: “You’re made for TV news, you’re always taking un-dramatic things and making them dramatic.”