One of the most interesting assignments I have had in graduate school was in my science fiction film course. The assignment was to write what happens after the end of the movie. In most cases, the endings seem happy and hopeful, but when you think about the implications, are they really? That’s what I was thinking about the other day while watching The Mindy Project, which describes itself as a romantic comedy. But The Mindy Project isn’t a movie. It’s a television show. So what happens when the couple gets together?
The series follows Dr. Mindy Lahiri, an OBGYN, on her search for love. She finds it in an unlikely place: Work! With an unlikely man: A co-worker with whom she bickered and fought with for years! Seems like a romantic comedy, right? And it feels like one. You cheer when Danny and Mindy get together. The credits roll and you are satisfied with the journey you took with those characters. But then you snap out of your elation and remember: There’s another episode next week.
The show is fundamentally about Mindy finding love and being happy. Being television, there are only two options. Continue doing that at whatever costs or change what the show is. For The Mindy Project, they did the former. Mindy and Danny couldn’t last, because Mindy was happy and she had a loving fiance with whom she had a beautiful baby boy. The goal of the series was accomplished, but the series couldn’t just end. This is American television! We’re the people who made nine seasons of The Office when the original showed us that the purpose of the series was to get Jim and Pam (though they were Tim and Dawn in that version) together. So what happens after the credits of a romantic comedy? Well, if they wants a sequel they break up. (For an example see: Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and Bridget Jones’s Baby)
The creative team has said that the romantic comedy isn’t over yet. And it can’t be. The show is a romantic comedy, but it is one that can’t settle until the series is finishing. Then Mindy can be happy. For now, the tension of the series dictates that there be a tumultuous love life for Dr. Mindy Lahiri. I will say, they planted the seeds for the break up well in advance, so it wasn’t like in New Girl when Jess and Nick broke up basically out of nowhere because the writers were struggling to come up with stories. There were a few episodes that really turned me off from the Mindy-Danny relationship, specifically the way he acted toward her and how he acted like it was the 1950s even when she called him on it. Still, I’m a softy, and if the creative team can show me that Danny has changed and that Mindy wants that, then I’m all game for the finale being a reconciliation. Because, let’s face it, I love the Bridget Jones movies, and that’s all the sequels are. – Max Dosser