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'The Mindy Project' season 3 fan react: Checking in on Danny and Mindy

The Mindy Project has always been a show about love, and has refused to apologize for that. References to movies like You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally have cropped up countless times, and in doing so, The Mindy Project puts itself in conversation with these movies and creates a kind of shorthand for how it explores love.

We already know Mindy Lahiri’s (Mindy Kaling) view on relationships is built on how Meg Ryan’s characters found love—meaning that when she’s actually in a relationship, the audience is able to get swept up in the idealistic, romantic storyline and gleefully abandon realism. Usually mean guys on the subway turn out to be total creeps, but when it happens to Mindy, the guy is actually a hot pastor whom she eventually falls in love with.

Realistic? No. Fun? Absolutely.

It’s always fun to watch a character fall in love, and the most joyous thing about The Mindy Project is that someone falls in love—or at least opens themselves up to love—about once a week.

At least, that used to be the case. Like any narrative, the show needed to change its focus to reflect growth, and so season two tightened its focus and became about the story of one couple: Danny (Chris Messina) and Mindy. Sometimes they were on the same page, but usually they were in separate libraries. The show that was once about the fun and excitement of meeting new people became more of a case study about two people’s attempts to start a relationship, while thankfully remaining just as fun and exciting.

And now, in season three, the show has reinvented itself again. Season three is about what happens after you find true love. The sweet, memorable moments from Danny and Mindy’s season-two courtship (Who could forget Danny’s Christmastime dance for her? Or Mindy running up the stairs of the Empire State Building to meet him at the top?), which were once just small building blocks of their relationship, have now been replaced with the messy, ugly realities of life. Instead of surprised, passionate first kisses on an airplane, it’s surprise pregnancies. It’s dealing with your boyfriend’s mother, who makes no attempt to like you. It’s all the things that Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, frankly, never had to deal with.

One of the biggest challenges Danny and Mindy have had this season is in their own attempts to coexist. He’s grumpy and private; she’s loud and in everyone’s face. There’s a lot of mileage in that, both comically and narratively. But instead of examining that dynamic and fleshing it out, this season has instead focused on pitting them against each other. In fact, the structure of each episode has become more or less formulaic: One of them keeps a secret from the other, it blows up in their face, they come clean, they make up.

But if they’re just getting into a meaningless fight every week, there are no real stakes. The audience knows they’re going to resolve things and that the slate will be clean by the next episode. The only thing unclear about this dynamic is whether it’s a sign that the writers weren’t sure how to handle Mindy and Danny’s newfound bliss (given that they’re both categorically unblissful people), or whether it’s a sign that the chase is almost always more thrilling than the aftermath.

A will-they-or-won’t-they couple is always so exciting: categorizing each little moment, noticing all the little looks and touches between them. It’s these small moments that are key to building a relationship. But once that foundation is set, and the characters finally act on their feelings, it’s the writers’ job to keep it interesting and keep the audience’s emotional engagement by building on that foundation. They have to remind the audience why these characters work together, and why their attention and time wasn’t misplaced.

The addition of Mindy’s sudden pregnancy helped mix things up, at a point where things desperately needed to be mixed up. After all, this is a show that once hosted an ever-expanding list of famous guest stars and love-interests-of-the-week. Losing that variety and constant change was a bold decision, but a necessary one if the writers were going to commit to Mindy and Danny’s relationship.

By introducing the pregnancy, and eventually a baby, the writers created a permanent workaround to that problem. This provides a constant source of new stories, and thus variety is once again part of the show’s blueprint. We watched Danny and Mindy become friends, then love interests, then partners; now they’re expecting parents. Their relationship has evolved rapidly over the course of just a handful of episodes, but it’s a necessary change.

And it’s a huge change, one that demands commitment and depth from the writers. The last few episodes, particularly “Fertility Bites” and “What to Expect When You’re Expanding,” have changed from Danny and Mindy fighting to working together as they experience this new chapter of their lives. It’s just the shift in focus this season needed.

Hopefully this upswing in their relationship will continue, and this season will prove to be just as formative and thrilling in Danny and Mindy’s story as the first two were. After all, every good love story needs its happily ever after; there’s so much more to life than the big romantic kiss and the fade to black afterwards.

Viewers of The Mindy Project got to witness the fairy tale of Danny and Mindy; now we get to witness them back on solid ground, keeping their love alive.

The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays 9:30/8:30C on FOX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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