Series: The Mindy Project
"Maybe I won't get married, you know? Maybe I'll do one of those Eat, Pray, Love things. Ugh, no, I don't want to pray. Forget it, I'll just die alone."
Created by, and starring Mindy Kaling
, one of the writers of the American version of The Office
, this rom-com series began airing in 2012 on Fox. This series is notable for having the first South-Asian lead on American television, still getting in trouble for alleged racism in having her date white men
, and its absurdly high cast turnover rate.
Dr. Mindy Lahiri is a successful OB/GYN living a comfortable single life in New York City. At her practice, she is surrounded by colleagues that both support her and drive her nuts. However, a lifetime of watching romantic comedies has convinced her that she needs to put more effort into finding her life partner. Hilarity Ensues
Now has a character sheet that needs a lot of love.
The Mindy Project contains the following tropes:
- Absurdly Long Stairway: In the season two finale, Mindy has to climb the stairway to the observatory on the Empire State Building because the elevators are broken. As soon as she starts climbing the elevators start working again.
- Accidental Hand Hold: Mindy and Danny accidentally grab hands during some turbulence on their return flight after a business trip. When the turbulence is over, Mindy lets go, but Danny grabs her hand back.
- Accidental Pervert: In "Girl Crush", the doctors launch a mobile clinic and drive it to Spanish Harlem to give out free breast exams. But after Mindy bails, the male doctors' awkward attempts to solicit volunteers has them tagged as perverts and are soon surrounded by an angry mob.
- Adam Westing: Kevin Smith cameos as himself, on an airplane where he messes up the bathroom. And then again, with Mindy none too pleased that he considers them both to have N-Word Privileges regarding fat jokes.
- Adorkable: Mindy and Danny when they're helping each other through a personal crisis. Actually, any moment anyone at Shulman & Associates helps another from the practice qualifies.
- Always V Sexy: After Mindy experiences insecurity due to her pregnancy weight gain, Tamra enlists her cousin Sheena to help Mindy get her fashion and sexual mojo back. At some point Sheena tells Tamra to get "Veronica" out of the car, referring to a push up bra.
- Ambiguously Bi: Morgan.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Mindy lists the reasons why guys don't commit to her, she notes that she works too much, is kinda selfish... and has never voted.
- Artifact Title: While Mindy continues looking for love for the duration of the series, the idea of it being a "Project" is very quickly (and quietly) dropped.
- Artistic License – Religion: "Mindy's Cool Christian Boyfriend" mashes together a bunch of very conservative and very progressive characteristics into the minister character who Mindy is dating. Ministers of both types do exist in real life, but it's rare for one to believe simultaneously that Hindus are going to hell but that it's alright to have premarital sex with one, for example. Arguably some of this is just Rule of Funny because it provides fodder for amusing banter between the two.
- Ascended Extra: Beverly, who appeared in the second episode as a one-shot character, became a series regular after the mid-season Re Tool.
- Bad Liar: Danny. He couldn't come up with an excuse as to why he had porn on his laptop. Actually, he really can't come up with a good lie/excuse to save his life, regardless of the gravity of the situation.
Danny: (trying to find a reason for Mindy to come to his office) MINDY. You prescribed the wrong medication for a patient and now she's in a COMA!
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Mindy and Danny have this to a T, although they seem to switch off between being the Jerk with a Heart of Gold and the Tsundere.
- Berserk Button: In the episode "Think Like a Peter", Mindy's one-night stand has this response when she and Peter come to his first-grade class and interrupt his lesson.
Lee: It is drawing time, you guys! You do not interrupt drawing time! Let's go. Interrupting drawing time, are you out of your minds?!
- Big Brother Instinct: Morgan towards Mindy, several characters to Betsy.
- Big Eater: Jeremy has become one of these between the seasons. Mindy talks about food a lot, too. "I empty my fridge before bed every night."
- Bollywood Nerd: Zig-zagged in a rare female example. Mindy is a OB/GYN who was excellent in studies and makes pop-culture references. However, she also loves shopping and fashion, celebrity culture, and is a bit boy-crazy. It's clear that when she was younger and even more socially awkward, this applied.
- Book Ends:
- Mindy and Tom. At the beginning of the series, Mindy is lamenting losing Tom to his marriage and she ends up getting rather drunk at his wedding reception. Near the end of the season, Tom loses his wife offscreen, gets drunk at a frat party, and subsequently asks Mindy to come home with him. This time, Mindy's not as keen on the idea, which shows that she's already let go of her fantasy of him over the course of the season..
- Morgan is introduced and hired in the second episode of the season in a quick decision by Mindy for essentially solving a problem nobody knew how to deal with immediately. In the second to last episode of the season, he is re-hired by Danny when he helps Danny mend his relationship with his ex-wife, after being fired by Danny in a snap decision for sending the letter that fixes the relationship in the first place.
- The M.I.A. song "Bad Girls" plays in the first and last episodes of season one.
- The Bus Came Back: Both Casey and Cliff return for one episode after they were written out of the show.
- Call Back:
- The letter that Danny wrote that Morgan sent results in Danny's ex-wife appearing. Danny is not amused and ends up firing Morgan for it.
- Danny getting nervous about airplane turbulence comes back in a big way in "The Desert" (and his "move": the butt grab!)
- The Cast Showoff:
- Mark Duplass/Brendan Deslaurier spends a couple of minutes showing off his ability to sing and play guitar as Mindy fumbles around in his shower.
- Chris Messina was a dancer as a kid (of note, he competed for Mr. Dance of the United States), and Danny shares his slick moves in multiple episodes, particularly "Christmas Party Sex Trap" and "We're Together Now, Haters!"
- Casting Gag: Certain Office workers count for a fair amount of side characters (not counting Mindy) on the show:
- Ed Helms (Andy) played a one-time boyfriend of Mindy's.
- Kelen Coleman (Isabel note ) plays one of Mindy's best friends.
- Ellie Kemper (Erin) as Josh's real girlfriend.
- Anna Camp (Penny note ) plays one of Mindy's best friends.
- B.J. Novak (Ryan) plays a Latin professor.
- Chekov's Gun: The fact that Danny is a great dancer is not fully explained until season 3 when it is revealed he used to be a stripper.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Zig-zagged. Mindy falls for a minister who wears the typical black shirt and white collar, but is not Catholic and is therefore allowed to date. In-universe, Mindy demonstrates the "All churches are Pentecostal Black churches" version of this trope when she dresses like a character from a Tyler Perry movie to attend one of his church's services. She promptly realizes how out of place her outfit is.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
- During the first season, Mindy's best friend Gwen was a regular character who appeared in the Title Montage, but she disappears completely with no explanation between seasons one and two. The same thing happens to Maggie and Alex, two other friends of Mindy who were recurring characters. By the second season it seems Mindy has no friends outside her workplace anymore.
- Betsy got Chucked in between seasons 2 and 3.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Morgan.
- The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: After Mindy gets pregnant, she (a gyno) can't figure out how to stem her morning sickness and still eats nutritionally unsubstantial foods while Danny (a gyno that views juice as a dessert) smokes. All these are lampshaded in "Danny Castellano Is My Nutritionist".
- The Conscience: Morgan acts as this when the doctors are thinking of making bad decisions. Notable moments include:
- Convincing Jeremy not to sleep with a bride-to-be in the episode "The Club"
- Stopping Mindy from engaging in a casual affair with Brendan. She hooks up with him anyway.
- Coolest Club Ever: Mindy and her co-workers visit one of these in the episode "In the Club".
- Cringe Comedy: Not as cringe-worthy as Mindy's previous show, but it has its moments. The episode "Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist" is an excellent example.
- Dating Catwoman: Mindy attempts a one-night stand with Brendan, a midwife from the rival practice upstairs. This goes about as well as you'd expect.
- Deadpan Snarker: Being a FOX comedy, the cast is full of them. Notable characters of snarkiness are Mindy, Danny, Jeremy, and Brendan Deslaurier.
- Demoted to Extra: Mindy's best friend Gwen was a series regular at the beginning of the show, but started appearing less and less before disappearing entirely
- The Ditz:
- Despite being an educated medical professional and incredibly pop-culture savvy, Mindy makes her fair share of air-headed comments.
"I'm not dumb! I'm ignorant, yes..."
- Tamra is a cross between this and a Sassy Black Woman.
- Most everything Morgan says or does demonstrates a woeful lack of common sense.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: In-Universe. Mindy attempts to talk to a group of high schoolers about teen pregnancy. It doesn't go so well.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Catherine has sex with Dr. Leotard when he's too drunk to stand or talk coherently. And he's the one treated as a jerk for this, even though he was in no state to give consent.
- Education Mama: Mindy implies her mother (whom she also referred to as being part of a Doting Parent unit) as this
When I was 11, I hated that boys would tease me because I would read all the time
, and my parents wouldn't let me wear makeup. I was embarrassed, and I wanted to move to Lake Buena Vista and audition for The All-New Mickey Mouse Club
. And my mom wasn’t like, ‘Sure Mindy, go ahead and do that!’ She hit me with an encyclopedia, and now I’m perfect.
- Falling in Love Montage: In the pilot, Mindy has one of these with Tom... then this is abruptly cut short by a shot of her attending his wedding.
- Fawlty Towers Plot: The A-plot of a typical episode goes something like this: Mindy inadvertently says or does something insensitive, offensive, and/or illegal. Then she realizes what went wrong and tries to backpedal. She invents some sort of a lie (or one is invented for her due to others misinterpreting her actions) and then has to maintain that lie for most of the episode. The web of lies grows bigger and bigger until Danny and/or her other co-workers are all caught up in it. Someone pulls the thread and Hilarity Ensues.
- Forged Message: Morgan and Peter find Mindy's phone and uses it to send naughty text messages to her boyfriend.
- Freudian Excuse:
- Jeremy has several moments over the course of the first season that imply he did not have a happy childhood due to asshole older brothers and other condescending relatives.
Jeremy: Morgan, what do you want brothers for? So they can lock you in a wardrobe where mummy can't hear you?
- Danny's father walked out on his family, leaving him to raise his younger siblings.
- Freudian Slip: Jeremy lapses into these at some points during the show, which usually leads to one or more characters asking if he's all right because these are the only times he's not the calm, collected, borderline obnoxiously confident British guy everyone knows him to be.
- Girl of the Week: Inverted, since the show has a female lead. Mindy is seeing a new guy, or at least interested in one, in nearly every episode.
- Played straight-ish with Danny, who dates almost as many girls over the course of season one as the amount of guys that Mindy's dated.
- G-Rated Drug: In "Santa Fe", Danny is talking to several patients at a rehab clinic. He is incredulous that some of them are there for far less "serious" addictions than alcohol or drug abuse.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Annette Castellano and her friend Dot. The latter woman blames Danny's father for the fact she hasn't married because she was providing companionship and comfort to her single mom friend.
- History Repeats: Danny's father abandoned Danny and Richie, and Danny basically raised Richie. In "Dinner With The Castellanos," he tries to dump his new daughter onto Danny because he can't handle raising her.
- Home Porn Movie: Mindy made one with Tom, which ended up in a porn site.
- Humiliation Conga: The main plot of several episodes involves a succession of increasingly embarrassing events happening to Mindy, though sometimes she's oblivious or indifferent to these events for most of the episode.
- Important Haircut: Mindy gets one of these in the first season finale.
- Insistent Terminology: Plenty of this is thrown between the doctors and the midwives - Brendan Deslaurier insists on calling the doctors of Shulman & Associates 'drug dealers'. On the other hand, the Deslauriers have to call the women that come to their office 'clients' and not 'patients', because neither of the Deslauriers are certified doctors, a fact that Danny calls them out on on top of calling the midwives any creative variant of 'quacks'.
- Just Friends: Danny and Mindy. Until they're not.
- "Just Joking" Justification: Josh kids Mindy from time to time about which of the many women in his contact list he'll go out with whenever Mindy is unavailable. This becomes a bit of a cruel Brick Joke when she later discovers that he was cheating on his girlfriend with her - and cheating on them both with other women.
- Insult Backfire: A male character makes a snarky comment about Mindy's wide feet. She responds: "Thank you! I almost never fall over."
- Intergenerational Friendship: Played with twice by Mindy.
- In "Mindy's Birthday", Mindy abandons her own friends and is approached by a separate group of teenage girls that are celebrating their own party. Mindy gets along with them at first, until she points out that the girls' attitudes indicate their friendship is shallow. They then insult her and call her a weird loner lady before being chased out of the restaurant.
- Zigzagged in "Frat Party", Mindy's protege Katie is comfortable enough to invite her to a frat party to make her feel better after she breaks up with her boyfriend. When Mindy stops Katie from dancing on a stripper pole, Katie becomes angry with Mindy for lecturing her on her attempts to impress men. By the end of the episode, Katie forgives Mindy and tells her she's right, indicating they'll probably get along... if we ever see her again.
- In season 2's "An Officer and a Gynecologist", Mindy takes a shine to a young patient and allows her to crash in her apartment to get away from her overprotective dad, but it ends up with Morgan handcuffed to a bed and Mindy dating the girl's dad.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Mindy and Danny get together. This is spoiled by the fact there's an episode called "Danny Castellano Is My Boyfriend," not to mention the fact that Mindy cuddling with Danny has been the series' image on Hulu for some time.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Some of Mindy's less than ideal boyfriends/hookups demonstrate her struggle with this trope.
- Love Epiphany: A platonic version. In "No More Mr. Noishe Guy," Mindy and Peter both realize they've inadvertently become best friends.
- Love Theme: Despite what happened in the pilot, Tom and Mindy still have their own Love Theme as they run into each other over the course of the first season. Each time is accompanied with the same swell of romantic instrumentals - until something Mindy or Tom does cuts off the track. This is dropped in the second season.
- Love Revelation Epiphany: An episode deals with Danny "accepting" his feelings for Mindy after incorrectly inferring she was in love with him.
- Madonna–Whore Complex: Practically the subject of "Confessions of a Cath-aholic" when Danny lies to his priest about Mindy: that she's a Good Catholic with the last name of Mac Pherson and that she's not pregnant.
- The Matchmaker: Jeremy and Danny try to fix up an old man with the woman in his retirement home that he is fond of, in the hopes that the old man will do them the favor of lowering their rent. This goes horribly wrong when it is discovered that she is already married, to a Badass Grandpa who has a sword concealed in his cane.
- Mindy claims to be one of these, which seems to have some merit. She sets up Danny with Lucy, the best friend of her at-that-time boyfriend Jamie, who always took Jamie's attention away whenever she was around. The result is Jamie getting jealous of Danny and then realizing that he's actually in love with Lucy.
- Mistaken for Gay: Happens with a hard-nosed hospital administrator who Mindy tries to kiss up to (pun intended) in order to get her clinic better hours at the hospital. Her gesture of showing this woman a night out on the town gets misinterpreted as a date, and of course Mindy tries to maintain the lie once she realizes... which then doesn't go over too well with the woman's wife.
- Mistaken for Prostitute: Inverted. Mindy picks a guy up at a bar, and doesn't realize until she gets home and coitus is about to ensue that he is a prostitute.
- Moment Killer: This trope gets mixed with Black Comedy when Mindy and her date are on a romantic carriage ride through Central Park, only for one of the horses to break a leg and need to be put down. Right in front of Mindy and her date.
- Morgan, Morgan, Morgan, who has a tendency to say things that are not only completely out of place but are also Squick-inducing.
- My Eyes Are Up Here: Inverted in "Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist". Danny is supposed to be giving Mindy a breast exam, but can't bear to look, causing Mindy to remark, "My boobs are down here."
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Peter forbids Danny from going out with his sister in "Girl Crush".
- No Such Thing as H.R.: Let's just say that if Human Resources existed in this show's universe, nearly every character would be up to his or her neck in a stack of sexual harassment suits.
- One-Hour Work Week: It seems Mindy and the other doctors are free to leave the practice for non-work-related reasons anytime they feel like it. This gets lampshaded a couple of times during the second season: in one episode, Jeremy has to simultaneously deliver three babies because Mindy and Danny have gone to a music festival; and in another one, Mindy has had a bad breakup and says she's entitled to "heartbreak days" (meaning she doesn't have to come to work if she doesn't feel like it), only for Jeremy and Danny to remind her that there's no such thing.
- Opening Monologue: Played with. Most episodes begin with Mindy delivering one... to another character.
- Season 3's first episode begins with Danny giving one instead... until Mindy shuts him up.
- Out of Focus: Tends to be a problem for any series regular who does not play Mindy or Danny. First, this was an issue with Mindy's original boss and her friends outside of work, so they were written out midway through the first season. By Season 2, this even becomes a problem for Jeremy, who originally had roughly the same amount of screen time as Danny. From late Season 1 onward, the typical episode's A-plot tends to focus on Mindy and/or Danny meddling in each other's personal lives while the B-plot tends to be consumed by Morgan and/or Peter's largely unrelated shenanigans.
- Out of Order: Compare the production order to the airing order in The Other Wiki's episode list. It's a wonder that the series has been able to establish any continuity at all.
- One particularly bad example was "Pretty Man", which was filmed before "My Cool Christian Boyfriend" and "Santa Fe", but aired between the two. Mindy is still dating the "Cool Christian boyfriend" in "Santa Fe", but in "Pretty Man", she is single and desperate enough to bring a male prostitute she picked up in a bar the previous night to a dinner party.
- Another example is the Thanksgiving episode (episode six), where Gwen wears the cast on her arm for an injury she got in episode eleven.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Morgan is a nurse, and supposedly a good one too, but we almost never see him do anything nursing-related.
- Piss-Take Rap: Happens when Mindy reluctantly agrees to participate in a freestyle rap competition with her brother.
- Playing Cyrano: Morgan and Peter take Mindy's phone to text Cliff on Mindy's behalf, knowing that she can't sext to save her life.
- Pop-Up Texting: This trope pops up (no pun intended) occasionally. The episode "You've Got Sext" uses it a lot, as it's about Morgan and Pete taking Mindy's cell and sending fake texts to Cliff.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Initially subverted with Heather, who tries to make amends with Mindy, and only becomes this way after Mindy treats her like one.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In "Indian BBW", Peter sends Mindy an urgent text message. One. Word. At. A. Time.
- Put on a Bus:
- Racist Grandma: Beverly.
- Really Gets Around: Josh.
- Relationship Upgrade: Mindy and Danny get one first in "The Desert" that quickly gets downgraded. Then they get together for real in the season finale.
- Scare Dare: How the titular event "Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist" comes to be. Mindy and Danny are both convinced that the other will back down from the painfully awkward situation first.
- Second Episode Introduction: Morgan.
- Self-Deprecation: The show practically runs on this, with most of the deprecation focused on Mindy. She approaches everything with a sense of humor, especially regarding her less-than-ideal body type and her dating history, but it's clear that sometimes her insecurities get the best of her.
: (while talking about why Casey wouldn't want to commit to her) I kinda suck, and no guy has ever wanted to commit to me before, because I work too much... I'm kinda selfish... I've never voted.
And usually, the guy figures that out and then they leave.
- In Indian BBW Mindy offers to read from Bridget Jones's Diary, and Danny actually reads from it at the end of the episode, British accents and all.
- Also in the same episode, Pete tries to cheer Mindy up by doing an impression of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.
Pete:*robot voice* I have never seen a woman.
- In Think Like a Peter, Peter calls Mindy's one-night stand, who is a first-grade teacher, "Kotter."
- In "Sk8er Man," Mindy gets her "big butt" caught halfway through a fence. Her final line in the scene is "Oh bother."
- Smug Snake: The male "midwives" who practice holistic medicine in the same building as Mindy's clinic.
- Spoiled Sweet: Mindy generally means well, but sometimes fails to grasp the notion that you can't always solve a problem by throwing money at it.
Mindy: I can do anything, as long as it's just paying for stuff.
- Stalker with a Crush: Mindy comes off this way at an ex-boyfriend's wedding in the first episode.
- Status Quo Is God:
- Over the course of the first season finale and second season premiere, Mindy cuts her hair, leaves the practice, moves to Haiti, gets engaged to Casey, and nearly gets married. Danny has gotten back together with his ex-wife. By the end of the premiere she's back at the practice and Casey is back in Haiti, although they're still engaged. By the third episode of the second season, Mindy and Casey have split up and Mindy is back to agonizing about her love-life. Meanwhile, Danny has broken up with his wife again.
- Mindy and Danny finally get together at the end of "The Desert", but Danny breaks it off after three episodes due to a fear of losing Mindy as a friend. Subverted as they get together seriously at the season finale.
- Thinks Like a Romance Novel: Mindy has watched a lot of rom-coms, and therefore tends to look at her romantic relationships in that light.
- Villainous Breakdown: Brendan after losing the triathalon. Which oddly enough earns a bit of Danny's respect, as he'd spent the whole day trying to get Brendan to admit he cared about winning.
- Wham Episode: "No More Mr. Noishe Guy." Danny buys a house for him and Mindy, Mindy is offered the opportunity to found a fertility clinic in San Francisco, Peter leaves the practice and moves to Texas, but the biggest wham is that Mindy is pregnant.
- Whole Plot Reference: The events of "Pretty Man" are basically a Distaff Counterpart story to Pretty Woman, at least in Mindy's mind.
- Wild Teen Party: Mindy attends a frat party with her protege to feel better after she breaks up with her boyfriend. It's as predictably wild as Mindy thinks it should be, and is therefore normal enough in occurrence... until two of Mindy's ex-boyfriends show up at the party and start to fight over her.
- Will They or Won't They?: It's pretty obvious by the end of the first season that there's something between Mindy and Danny, but if either of them are conscious of it, neither of them are really doing anything about it. They Do - but Danny breaks it off three episodes after it happens. The series reverts back to Will They or Won't They?, until Mindy and Danny get back together in the second season finale.
- Woman Scorned: Heather, the woman Josh was already seeing when he started dating Mindy. The timing of her discovery - right in the middle of Mindy's Christmas party - couldn't possibly be any worse.
- You Are Fat: Danny's Mom, Annette, often remarks on Mindy's weight.
- Your Cheating Heart:
- Josh on Mindy. She discovers it on Christmas and worse, she's the other woman. It gets worse. We find out in "Santa Fe" that he had TWO other women on the side.
- Also, Dr. Castellano's wife cheated on him which led to the divorce.
- Tamra cheats on her longtime boyfriend Rayron at the end of season 2 with Morgan. Rayron doesn't seem to mind.