Title We Need to Talk About Annette
Two-Sentence Summary Mindy discovers that Danny’s mother is a shoplifter, but Annette tries to deny those allegations when Mindy confronts her. Meanwhile, Peter discovers that Abby may be his perfect woman, but his definition of the perfect woman may need some changing.
Peter: Why are you looking at me like that?
Danny: You look a lot like Mindy in that outfit.
Peter: Keep your eyes up here, man!
Danny: You look good.
Peter: Shut up!
My Thoughts This season, The Mindy Project has finally seemed to achieve a good balance between highlighting their guest stars while not making their appearances feel like blatant stunt casting moves. “We Need to Talk About Annette” was as entertaining as it was because of the two very funny women making recurring guest appearances (Rhea Perlman and Allison Tolman), and they were used just enough to be memorable once again while still letting the actors and character arcs around them shine, too.
I said it last week, and I’ll say it again: I didn’t watch Fargo, so I had no idea who Allison Tolman was before this little arc. And now I am more than a little bit in love with her, and I don’t want to see her arc end. For only being in two episodes, there was a lot of nice nuances to her character; I liked that we were introduced to her as a woman who was confident and successful, but that doesn’t have to always mean a person is responsible. Maybe I’ve just been thinking about Gone Girl too much lately, but Abby’s characterization was a really nice depiction of the problems inherent in the “cool girl.” Peter may have thought for a long time that he liked women who didn’t challenge him, and it’s clear that Lauren choosing Jeremy still hurts and is making him wonder if challenging women will ever want him. However, it was nice to see him start to realize that—even if Lauren hurt him—he needs to find someone like her, someone who makes him want to be a better person.
This season of The Mindy Project has done a great job of showing the ways that love can help you grow as a person without someone actively trying to change you. And I was so happy to see that theme become a part of Peter’s story, too. The best relationships are ones like Mindy and Danny’s—ones that challenge people to be more than they could be without the inspiration and support of the other person. It was a huge point of character growth for Peter to discover that he wants that, and it was sweet to see that delivering the baby and watching the happy parents was part of what triggered his desire to want something more than the one-dimensional relationship he could have with Abby. These past few episodes have been very strong ones for Peter, and I like that the show seems to be zeroing in on the idea of Adam Pally as the emotional anchor of the supporting cast. He’s done a great job with all of this character growth so far, and I’m excited to see where all of it leads.
Mindy and Danny’s story in this episode led once again to some nice growth—especially for Mindy—even if I found the message of “Family is more important than the law” a little bit of a test of my suspension of disbelief. (That’s also just the chronic rule-follower/authority-respecter in me talking.) I’ve enjoyed seeing these interactions with Annette help Mindy examine her own flaws and work to be better. In this case, the episode started with Mindy explaining to Danny that she downloads everything illegally (leading to a great moment of comedy when they threw the virus-addled laptop off the bed). And in the end, she actually bought music legally. It was a small moment of growth, but it was nice to see the events of the episode have a little bit of an impact.
Ultimately, though, this A-plot was just another way to get Mindy Kaling and Perlman to share the screen, and, once again, it worked brilliantly. The scene with Annette trying on the bathing suits was funny, but the real comedic gold in this episode came from the “guilt dinner.” As someone who comes from a very close-knit and very Catholic family, guilt is a topic I know well, and I loved Annette laying it on as thick as humanly possible with her prayer. The line about Mindy being able to survive a little bit of famine was the perfect touch for someone like Annette. (Mainly because it sounded like something everyone’s Catholic grandma would say—or at least think about someone and then tell you about it later.) Perlman is just so good in this role, and she keeps getting better with each appearance. She plays off Kaling so well, and she’s just as good with Chris Messina. That little trio is firing on all cylinders, and Dot just makes the perfect extra dash of spice to the great recipe they’re working with. (Her line about having a dancer’s body had me almost in tears from laughing so hard.)
For as much fun as Perlman and Kaling (and Perlman and Messina) are together, there’s still nothing that can compete with Kaling and Messina simply being allowed to show Mindy and Danny having fun together. That last scene, with all of the great Top Gun references, felt so perfectly realistic. Real couples have those moments where they can be silly and make each other laugh, and I love when Mindy and Danny get to have those moments. Playfulness is such an important part of a good, healthy relationship, and it never fails to make me smile to see Mindy and Danny in that light.