The Mindy Project delved deeper into its romantic comedy influences this week, with a healthy amount of references: Indiana Jones, Say Anything, Good Fellas, and even some made-up ones starring Gerard Butler and Kate Beckinsale. In a cultural moment when romantic comedies are considered a kind of idiot's paradise, TMP mines the genre's tropes with a wry irony that pays tribute as much it finds blame.
And really, doesn't that outline the dynamic between Mindy and Danny, with their widely opposing music and film tastes and viewpoints on appropriate workplace relationships? We pay attention to and criticize the people we care about, which explains why Danny's relationship with Jillian (Allison Williams) fell apart within three episodes. If you're giving more attention to a sandwich than your beautiful, eye-patchless girlfriend, than your relationship needs a second look.
In some ways, this episode is about how much we read into being ignored or overlooked. B.J Novak's Jamie describes more of his date with Mindy to his best friend Lucy (Eva Amurri Martino) than actually being on the actual date. Convinced that it's a When Harry Met Sally situation, Mindy leaves him at the restaurant. She comes back to Jamie after realizing that Brendan was just another dead-end, dressed up in an Indiana Jones costume.
As another Office alum, and TMP's consulting producer, Novak enjoys an easy rapport with Mindy over the uselessness of Latin study. They are delightful on-screen together, and some of the best jokes in the episode are between the two of them. If nothing else, the fact that Jamie suggests that they have similar movie tastes might be one of the more romantic things that a Mindy prospect has said to her. Hopefully, Novak and Jamie will have a long run on the show.
It's still hard for me to figure what kind of show The Mindy Project is, and maybe that's what first season are for, but I am wondering whether if it is so new of a TV species that it hasn't really been identified yet. Like Lahiri, the show can be kooky, with lots of physical humour, and "edgy" with its racial humour, and I haven't seen something similar on television in my recent memory.
Then I wonder if it's not my own disappointment playing tricks on me, making me expect the show to be something different because it has an Indian American female lead when, except for rare moments, it really hasn't really been that different from anything else on TV. But maybe I am just being unfairly judgmental. Sometimes you have to call a penguin a penguin.
Watch "Harry & Sally" at CityTV.com!