The Mindy Project is starting to have a Danny problem. A few weeks ago, I pointed out that this series needs to go through the process that New Girl went through with its main characters, in which the main couple/love interests come closer to a middle ground before they end up together. Unfortunately, that balancing act is only going so well for Mindy at this point.
In “The Girl Next Door,” we’re starting to see a different side to Mindy. She’s becoming more independent and less reliant on a man. That’s of course due to her new friendship/possibly budding romance with Tim Daly’s Officer Charlie Lang. When she almost sets her kitchen on fire, it forces her to take matters into her own hands, putting the fire out instead of waiting for a man to do it. It also has a lot to do with the fact that Lang is basically an older version of Danny.
To counterbalance that, Danny has to become more like Mindy, which means he’s more unpredictable, indecisive and willing to do crazy things. Instead of making him more laid-back, he’s becomes uncharacteristically odd in a way that doesn’t make him appealing. His arc on this latter portion of the season has been all over the place. First, he made a move on Mindy, then the two started dating in secret, then called it off foolishly when the idea of the office finding out became a reality. After that, he immediately started dating Peter’s sister, broke it off when he figured out that, duh, he still has feelings for Mindy, and in “The Girl Next Door,” he offers her an apartment in his building so that he can keep tabs on her. He even makes a move on Mindy after a night of hanging out, which Mindy smartly deflects, because, why should she want someone who is acting like this?
Right now, The Mindy Project is creating a Catch-22 for these characters. According to the plot, Danny and Mindy should obviously be together, yet there’s also no reason that Mindy should want Danny back. She should probably be with Officer Lang at this point, but it’s also hard to want Mindy to be with someone that we know won’t last. It’s a very strange game that the show is playing right now—one that it’ll have to carefully navigate in the season finale next week.
However “The Girl Next Door” does set up a new relationship that is potentially more compelling than all of this Mindy/Danny business is. Peter meets the funny brain surgeon Lauren and goes on a date with her. Even though the two seem to hit it off a bit during their date, Lauren decides Peter is too immature and doesn’t want to see him again. But Peter really likes this girl and busts in on one of her brain surgeries, asking for a second chance, which she allows. It looks like these two could become closer, just as Mindy and Danny’s relationship seems to be failing.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.