Season two of The Mindy Project premiered last night on Fox. At the end of last season, Mindy and Casey moved to Haiti, building the will-they-or-won’t-they tension between Mindy and Danny. Since then, I’ve been eagerly awaiting my favorite leading lady’s return and I’m happy to say that it did not disappoint.
While there’s been some concern that Mindy will lose some of her complicated and so-called “unlikeable” charm in hopes of scoring higher ratings, I was happy to see Mindy back to her old self minus the (spoiler-alert) blinged-out engagement ring from her fiancé, Pastor Casey.
As The Atlantic points out, Mindy is “disposed to gossip, blasé about the environment, religious when it's convenient, materialistic, often selfish, and occasionally dishonest.” But for a 30-ish, straight, single, young professional living in NYC, she’s also pretty relatable. She’s accomplished, unapologetically girly, frivolous and fierce. As the star of her own faux-romantic comedy, she tends to be hilariously unlucky in love. Until now.
While it was nice to see her and Casey settled into their new routine in Haiti (or as Mindy referred to it, to see them being “an old married couple, except young and hot”), it had me worried that Mindy had changed. I was concerned that she had become a “better” person and therefore sadly less relatable or even less funny.
However as last night’s episode unfolded, it became clear that the Mindy we know and love is back. Here's why you should love her just as much as I do, just the way she is.
1. She’s relatable and funny.
When her romantic boyfriend wakes her up at 5 a.m. to watch the Haitian sunrise, Mindy “still isn’t happy about it now” but “barely hates it” (the old Mindy would have "punched him in the face").
Even when she realizes he is proposing, she stops and yells “Are you kidding me? I wanna Vine this!” Be still my millennial heart.
2. Mindy Kaling's writing subverts the rom-com.
Mindy’s love life is always a bit of a mess but even now that she’s happily engaged, her wedding is a total fail.
It was a bit surprising that Mindy went along with the idea of having a quick and small wedding in her New York apartment, but in true Mindy style the scene changes when her usual external monologue is abruptly disrupted by Casey, peeing in the toilet and then accidentally on her — and her wedding dress.
This jolt to reality allows Mindy to confess later to Danny, “I really thought I changed but I didn’t; I just got good at pretending to like things that I don’t like.” Even though she’s still set on marrying the guy she likes, Casey knows it’s not the big fancy wedding that she really wants. He also knows she doesn’t want to go back to Haiti and suggests she stays in New York to work and save money for their wedding. Lucky for us, our heroine is back to stay.
3. Subtlety never fails her.
When Dr. Leotard, (played by none other than James Franco), Mindy is immediately entranced by his good looks. Danny, annoyed at this realization, urges her to “Cool her jets” now that’s engaged, to which she responds, “What? Is this the Taliban? I can’t look at a man anymore?”
After meeting him, she can’t help herself from exclaiming, “You are like crazy bang-able hot, I don’t understand why you’re a doctor. You could be a model, anyone could be a doctor.”
4. She’s super confident.
When Casey asks if she’s told everyone the good news, her first thought is not her engagement. Instead she happily announces that she “lost pounds three pounds of water weight from diarrhea” and then later says that she “would win any wet t-shirt contest." Quick to bring her back down to earth, later on in the episode the other doctors suggest calling her Big L, to differentiate her between James Franco’s character Dr. Leotard, because of how much she eats. But even their light-hearted attempts fail to thwart her confidence, as she responds by saying that, “that doesn’t make any sense because I’m like a tiny, dainty bird.”
She may not be perfect, but in a fun way she reminds us that neither are we.
5. She stands up for herself.
Despite being impressed with the new Dr. L’s good looks, when she decides she’s back for good, she’s quick to stake her place at the office. Even though it’s clear that her colleagues are fond of him, she won’t let herself be replaced, which is sure to lead to some serious comedic jewels as her and James Franco continue to battle it out.
6. It's already feminist and hopefully will become more so.
With an empowered female lead writing and starring in the show; and as the first network comedy to star an Indian American actress; Mindy was bound to have some feminist aspects.
There's some argument as to whether or not it’s feminist enough, but I’ll take what I can get. Not only is Mindy a successful, independent woman, she plays an OB-GYN. While the show has been criticized as not using this as enough of an opening to discuss sexual health and reproductive rights, the way Parks and Recreation discusses women’s political participation, you have to admit that they have a harder job to do. Discussing reproductive rights on primetime TV, in a comedy, on a network like Fox, is no easy feat, but they certainly do delve into issues of sexual health. And from the discussions of masturbation and sex therapy in last night’s episode, there doesn’t seem to be any signs that this will stop.
The show has also been criticized for not exploring racial tensions and for Mindy’s love interests being white. While she may be appearing to settle down with a white dude, last night was the first mention of his “racist family” meeting her Indian family. While it wasn’t explored further, it’s something that will surely show up if their relationship continues.