A mediocre episode of The Mindy Project is a painful thing to experience. You expect 30 Rock, but you get The Big Bang Theory. Unfunny jokes, boring subplots, predictable characters, James Franco. All in all, I wish this week hadn’t happened.
Mindy finds herself where we left off at the last episode; in a furious competition with Dr. Paul Leotard (played by Franco) over a spot at the practice. This is the A-plot, the storyline that consumes most of the episode — probably another reason why I felt so bored last night. As beautiful as James Franco is, his character is simply not that interesting. Mindy doesn’t like him either. To be fair, he is being kind of a jerk to her. (“He stole my office, and he made me feel uncool!”) She’s been relegated to the supply closet, and she’s not happy about it.
In true sitcom fashion, she develops a scheme to get him kicked out of the group after she hears that he’s a total lightweight — she’ll beat him in a drinking contest. Thanks to her prodigious drinking skills, she wins handily, and Franco gets blackout drunk.
Here’s where the episode really lost me. No, it wasn’t just that Mindy tries to steal a kiss from the completely incapacitated Franco. (Although that was weird. That was really, really weird.) It’s that afterwards, when Christina comes by Danny’s apartment to drop off some stuff, she finds Paul passed out in the hallway — and she decides to sleep with him. Paul wakes up the next morning wracked with guilt over what he’s just done to Danny.
Look, I’m not a humorless person. I think sex is fun, and I’m always down for some shenanigans involving dysfunctional couples and revenge sex. Here’s what I’m not okay with; watching a sober person have their way with a completely intoxicated person. Even if the sober person is a woman and the drunk person is a man, consent is consent. There’s only one word for what happened to Paul, and it rhymes with “tape.”
So yeah. When you look at it that way, everything that happens after said event just seems … creepy. Danny suspects Paul has had sex while drunk. Paul and Mindy pretend to have slept together. Danny is appalled that Mindy would cheat on her fiancé. Paul breaks down and tells Danny the truth, and mentions that the sex had to have been incredible — after all, he is a sex therapist. Danny punches Paul in the face. Paul leaves the office in disgrace. Whatever. Can it just be next week already? I need to get the bad taste of this episode out of my mouth.
Here’s what was good about the episode: Danny’s side plot with Bill Hader. Hey, I laughed. Danny joins the lamest support group in the world, a group for men who have recently been dumped and who are hanging onto their dignity by a thread. (“Just because we don’t have wives, doesn’t mean we don’t have lives! Single and cool!”) Hader reprises his role as Tom, Mindy’s ex. Last we saw him, he was happily married, and living the good life. Things have taken a turn for the worse, lately.
Apparently, Kim Kardashian’s ex shows up. If you care about that sort of thing.
Other things that made me laugh: I enjoyed Mindy’s one-piece whip-cream bathing suit. Sexy AND modest. My mother would approve.
Here’s what (in addition to that gross rape joke) I didn’t like about the episode:
1. Fat Dr. Reed just isn’t funny. Last week, I was all about the extra chub, but this week, I just want him to take the fat suit off and stop being such a downer. He was funnier when he was a skinny, self-absorbed prick.
2. What exactly is the purpose of Tamara?
For a show that was lauded as the first show anchored by an Indian woman, The Mindy Project really sucks when it comes to diversity. Not only are all the guest stars white (and usually male), when they introduce a character of color, they choose to make her a stale stereotype with nothing to contribute except stereotypes. I had hoped that they’d give Xosha Roquemore more of a presence since they made her a regular — but after the first two episodes of this season, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Hopefully next week will bring me back around, but as of now, I’m not feeling this show.
Jaya Sundaresh lives in Hartford, Connecticut. She grew up in various parts of the Northeast before deciding to study political science at McGill University. Follow her on Twitter at @anedumacation and read her thoughts on her personal blog.