TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.13



Title San Francisco Bae

Two-Sentence Summary When Mindy runs into the guy she lost her virginity to in a San Francisco bar, she’s surprised to learn he’s become a major Internet mogul and even more surprised to learn he still thinks about her. Back in New York, Danny and Morgan think Lauren might be cheating on Jeremy with Peter.

Favorite Line “She won the secret Hunger Games we billionaires have!” (Alex)

My Thoughts “San Francisco Bae” was a really well-balanced episode of The Mindy Project. Both the A-plot and the B-plot were funny, the guest actors were used well, and the overall story arc felt fresh and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but some of that might be the fact that I—like most human beings—am powerless to resist the charms of Lee Pace.

Pace was a genius choice to play Alex because he can balance being an adorable nerd and handsome charmer like few others can. He was the perfect character to tempt Mindy in an episode that dealt heavily with the concept of infidelity—he’s a mix of all the cheating clichés: a person she has a fondly-remembered romantic history with, a powerful playboy billionaire, and a handsome man in a city across the country from her boyfriend.

Let’s be real; I think a billionaire who looks like Lee Pace would cause a lot of people to think twice about the men they have waiting for them back home. But ultimately, all Alex did was remind Mindy that she loves Danny. (And cause problems for himself and Mindy with his girlfriend, played perfectly by Chrissy Teigen.)

What I liked about all of Mindy and Alex’s interactions was that I never once believed Mindy would give in to the temptation he presented. The stability in Mindy and Danny’s relationship is a refreshing thing in the world of sitcoms, and the last scene with them talking on the phone reinforced the idea that they’re a couple that’s built on a good foundation. Danny may not have Alex’s money or prestige, but he’s the guy who’ll call Mindy at the end of the day just to say hi and smile at the sound of her voice. And that’s enough for Mindy, and it’s also enough to melt my heart.

I was a little bit confused by the beginning of the episode, with Mindy constantly calling Danny. It felt a little out of place after the last episode ended with her saying that she didn’t need him. Her phone calls certainly felt needy to me. However, I can believe that saying she’s fine without him and actually feeling fine with him in New York are very different things. It just felt like a small step back for Mindy after she’d made so much progress by the end of “Stanford.”

On the other hand, I really liked the way this episode handled Mindy’s first time in the flashbacks. Usually, a woman who didn’t have sex until she was in her mid-20s would be viewed as a prude or a loser. Mindy, however, was shown to be a perfectly normal, attractive woman in those flashbacks, and I liked that she wasn’t made to look pathetic or weird for being her age and still being a virgin. And when she made the choice to have sex for the first time, it was shown as exactly that—a choice she made about her sexuality as an adult woman and one she doesn’t regret at all. We don’t often see virgins in the media who know a lot about sex before they have it for the first time, so it was nice to see this show make it clear that Mindy was comfortable with her sexuality even if she was new to actually having sex. (Her immediate disgust with the missionary position was one of my favorite lines in the episode.) It also makes sense because Mindy is an OBGYN, after all. The Mindy Project has always done a good job of not shaming women for things involving their bodies or their sex lives, and it continued in this episode.

While the A-plot said some interesting things about both Mindy as a character and the way this show treats women’s sexuality as a whole, the B-plot was nothing but fun. It was great seeing Danny interact with the rest of the men in the office for an episode because Chris Messina is so good opposite Ike Barinholtz. (Can Barinholtz do a Messina impression in every episode, please?) Morgan’s deep desire to be friends with Danny is one of his most enduring—and endearing—character traits, and I loved seeing it come back in this episode, especially with the revelation that it was also Morgan’s birthday.

The guys thinking Peter was sleeping with Lauren was a common sitcom miscommunication plot, but what made it work was the way all of the actors sold every part of this very silly storyline. From Jeremy in his opera cape to Morgan claiming to be having an affair with Mindy, there were so many comedic high points in this B-plot. There were also some nice bits of character continuity, with Jeremy admitting he still has no idea how to interact with Henry and Peter showing that he’s good with and loves Lauren’s son.

The contrast between Jeremy and Peter made the big revelation at the end of the episode feel less than surprising, but it did feel earned. We’ve seen that Peter is clearly a better match for Lauren than Jeremy (especially after how much he’s grown this season), so when they kissed, I’ll admit to being happy about it.

There was a lot to be happy about this week on The Mindy Project. For as much as I missed having Mindy and Danny in the same place, I can deal with them being apart if all of the episodes in the Stanford arc are as much fun as this one was.

5 thoughts on “TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.13

  1. It’s so funny but until you said this episode was all about cheating I hadn’t actually noticed that! Either I am completely failing at thinking about the TV I watch (possible – I count on you to tell me what episodes “mean” most of the time, especially lately) or maybe I was so subconsciously certain that Mindy would never ever cheat on Danny that it never even occurred to me that that story line was potentially about cheating rather than being about running into an old flame. I love that I never think that Mindy and Danny are actually going to screw things up completely.

    I loved that it was Morgan’s birthday… silly sad man. He’s really growing on me. I’m glad they’re giving him better material and fleshing out his relationships with the other characters more and more. That whole story was hilarious even though it could have been cringeworthy or awkward. And Peter is getting so much better too. The stuff overheard with the baby were classic, but I loved that he stood up for himself and made it known that he wants to be more than just a babysitter.

    Oh, and yeah, Mindy’s virginity story was excellent. I hadn’t thought about it (maybe I only notice when things are awful and problematic) but of course Mindy would have a sex positive, body positive, awesome virginity story without beating us over the head with any of it (not suggesting for a second that she might have felt bad about her body or that there was anything wrong with waiting or anything like that) – the absence of all that was so subtle but so powerful.

    I think that it’s like the incredibly positive stuff going on in Brooklyn Nine-Nine – the absence of all the usual problematic crap sneaks up on me and suddenly I realize, wow, that would normally have been a horrible misogynistic racist stereotypical shitty story, but it wasn’t! Thanks for pointing that out 🙂

    • I love when I get to point out when shows are doing things right. It always makes me happy to talk about the ways TV shows themselves are promoting positivity and creating storylines that subtly but powerfully go against all of the problematic tropes usually depicted in the mainstream media. And the fact that I get to talk about it with TV shows I genuinely enjoy and am entertained by makes it even better. 🙂

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  3. I finally caught up on Mindy Project this weekend. And I just had to co-sign on the part of the episode that I thought was so refreshing – her flashback to losing her virginity. I think you nailed it on the head. We almost always see the loss of a woman’s virginity played as one of the most significant moments of her life emotionally. Or we get a characterization that is suppose to justify waiting to have sex as though it isn’t an active choice. I really appreciated the show’s willingness and effectiveness in telling a truth many women have — that sex was a choice the first time out. It wasn’t an act or extension of love or driven by the desire of the man. But that as young women we are self determined when it comes to both our own sexuality as well as how we feel about our bodies. I was grateful that it wasn’t awkward afterwards for her and that she’d made choices from a place of confidence instead of neediness. It was really nicely handled and one of the more impressive sequences they’ve had this season.

    I also concur that the show has found a bit of a sweet spot when it comes to the boys and the b plots. This one was a gem and I hope they mine that comedy more in the second half of the season.

    • “I was grateful that it wasn’t awkward afterwards for her and that she’d made choices from a place of confidence instead of neediness.” I’m just sitting here, nodding along vigorously at this statement. I was worried that, because of who we’ve seen Mindy to be with men, neediness would play a big part in the story of her losing her virginity. Imagine my pleasant surprise when Mindy was shown to be confident, self-assured, and not needy in the slightest. It was such a wonderful message to send, and I’m so happy you also found it refreshing and well-executed.

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