When Fox announced that it would be airing The Mindy Project, a sitcom by The Office star and writer Mindy Kaling, based in part on Kaling’s own mother’s work as an OB/GYN, I had high hopes. Like many freshman comedies, particularly its timeslot partner New Girl, The Mindy Project had a first season that involved throwing a lot of elements at the wall to see what stuck and what didn’t. Last night’s finale of The Mindy Project, though, contained a near-perfect sequence that united the series’ two core elements, the practice of medicine, and the pursuit of romantic comedy perfect, and provided a terrific template for how the show can follow New Girl‘s lead and level up dramatically in its second season.
Pulled out of a party to celebrate Mindy and Casey’s moving to Haiti for a year that had become an utter disaster after Danny’s ex-wife had praised his androgyny in a photograph, Mindy had tried to get Casey to break up with her by demanding that he propose, and Casey, unaware that he was playing relationship poker, called her bet and asked her to marry him on the advice of “the Notorious G.O.D.” and she freaked out, Mindy, Danny, and Jeremy ran off to deliver triplets. Their display of extreme competence, set, in a flashback to the premiere, to M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls,” not only gave Mindy a professional win and the ensemble a nice character moment, with Jeremy bragging that the triplet that he was responsible for “had the highest Apgar score.” But the willingness of Mindy’s patients to embrace the chaos of triplets also gave her a critical insight in what she needs to have a grand romantic comedy moment, and it isn’t a checklist of compatibility, or a meet cute in an elevator: it was courage. She rushed to Casey’s apartment, delivered a demented speech on the gap between her aspirations to be in a serious relationship and her actual ability to handle her dream scenario, revealed her chopped-off hair, and reunited with her pastor boyfriend.
This is The Mindy Project‘s sweet spot, the interaction between Mindy’s role as an expert in the mechanics of what it takes to have safe sex or deliver a health baby, or what makes an individual moment cinema-worthy, and her total lack of understanding about how two people get to a point where they want to have a baby in the first place. The finest episodes of the show’s first season were the ones where Mindy’s work helped her realize important things about her approach to dating and relationships—and ultimately made a sly argument that even if Mindy has to run out of dates and parties to deliver children, her commitment to her career is actually one of the things that’s helping her make incremental progress towards a healthier personal life.