TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.19



Title Confessions of a Catho-holic

Two-Sentence Summary Danny and Mindy attempt to charm the new pastor at Danny’s church, who happens to be someone Danny knows from his old neighborhood. Meanwhile, Jeremy tries to pull off a one-man show about his childhood.

Favorite Lines
Mindy: How old was Father Francis? Was he Jesus’ roommate?
Danny: No! Jesus didn’t have a roommate. He lived with his Ma.

My Thoughts Religion is a very tricky topic to tackle on television shows—especially comedies, and especially comedies as typically silly as The Mindy Project. Yet somehow, even at its most ridiculous, The Mindy Project has always done a really wonderful job balancing the humor to be found in Danny’s devout Catholicism with its genuine importance in his life and his family. It’s easy to turn someone being religious into a joke, but the TV comedy landscape is filled with enough one-dimensional, satirical portraits of religious people. However, what The Mindy Project has done so well is acknowledging the humor inherent in some of the sillier aspects of organized religion while still respecting the place that organized religion has in many people’s lives. Danny isn’t made out to be a better or worse person because he’s Catholic; it’s simply one of many facets of his complex character. And that’s rare on television.

Before we go any further, I just want to state for the record that I’m a practicing Catholic. I went to Catholic schools through college, and I still go to Mass on Sundays. So I knew going into this episode that I was probably going to love it. Every single Catholic joke told on this show in three seasons has landed with me. And I’ve always found Danny’s Catholicism to be a really interesting part of his character—especially because he doesn’t fit into either of the two main stereotypes about Catholics: He’s not ultra-conservative in his moral views and behaviors, and he’s also not just someone who identifies as Catholic but doesn’t go to Mass. Danny is a person trying to balance living his life the way he feels is right for him with his religious upbringing and beliefs, and that’s both incredibly relatable and incredibly deep as both a source of character growth and comedy—both of which were explored to their fullest potential in “Confessions of a Catho-holic.”

Once again, The Mindy Project did a great job addressing a common question people in relationships must tackle in order to grow together: How does religion factor into this relationship? This is especially important when there’s the issue of bringing a child up in a particular faith that needs to be talked about, which is exactly what Mindy and Danny were going through in this episode. And once again, this show tackled this point of relationship growth with big laughs and also genuinely sweet moments of sincerity. That combination brings out the best in The Mindy Project, and it was on full display here.

Before I talk about anything else in this episode, I need to talk about the fact that we found out the sex of Mindy and Danny’s baby! I was 99% convinced they would have a girl, so imagine my surprise that they’re having a boy. I loved the way Mindy talked about her child choosing their own gender—and I also loved the way that very progressive statement turned out to be just another way of Mindy saying she wanted a girl, which was completely in-character for her.

As Mindy was planning how she could still get a daughter out of this, Danny was trying to square himself with God by going to confession, telling the priest that he was punished for his sins with the precious gift of life—but at least it proved he wasn’t using protection. That joke was absolutely perfect, as was the fact that Danny’s priest died right in the middle of his confession. Confessional humor never gets old to me, which is probably due to years spent nervously contemplating my own trips into that scary little box.

After Danny killed his priest with the strength of his sins, we were introduced to Father Michael: a reformed bad-boy from Danny’s old neighborhood played to perfection in what should be an Emmy-nominated guest appearance by Stephen Colbert. Every single line delivery of his was wonderful—from his stories about having sex on a luggage carousel to him calling Danny and Mindy’s apartment the “lair of Lucifer” when he found condoms in the cookie jar.

As Danny and Mindy attempted to win Father Michael over with dinner and board games, Mindy had to play Catholic, which led to some hilarious moments of quoting God (“I believe it was God who said…”) and confusing the apostles and the Beatles. And of course, it wouldn’t be an episode of The Mindy Project without characters trying to cover up or hide something, which in this case meant watching Mindy try to sneak condoms out of the bathroom while Father Michael was using it. While that was funny on its own, watching Mindy get distracted by her own reflection was even funnier.

In the end, though, the charade of Catholicism was a little too much for Mindy to handle. She played her part well, but she couldn’t sit back and let Danny and Father Michael talk about Danny’s sex-crazed ex-girlfriend (aka Mindy) like she was in need of a public shaming. I was so proud of Mindy for changing the dialogue from “sex-crazed” to “sex-positive” because that healthy view of sex is something seriously lacking in the formal teachings of most religious groups, Catholics included. I thought Mindy Kaling did a great job of playing Mindy’s reactions in that scene with a genuine sense of hurt that was never over the top and, therefore, absolutely broke my heart.

I understood why it was so hard for Danny to be honest with Father Michael: Catholic guilt is a force to be reckoned with. But just because I understood it doesn’t mean I liked watching it. However, I was so proud of Danny for ultimately being honest with himself and with Father Michael about his impending fatherhood and his feelings about it. (Side note: How cute is it that Danny has the sonogram as his screen saver?!) Confession is only supposed to take place when you feel like you need absolution, and Danny doesn’t feel guilty about loving Mindy and creating a child from that love. For Danny Castellano—Mr. Catholic Guilt personified—to state to a priest that he’s technically “living in sin” but has never been happier in his life is a huge deal. Heck, for Danny to admit to anyone that he’s never been happier in his life is a huge deal. It was such a sweet moment, played with such honest joy by Chris Messina. And then Mindy Kaling showed that she’s learned from the master by giving us some beautiful reaction shots to rival the ones Messina is famous for.

Danny is a responsible man who, even in a small way, could never deny his fatherhood the way his own dad did. And some of that sense of responsibility did come from being raised Catholic. I loved that Mindy could see how important Danny’s faith is to him as well as how important his new family is to him, which she brought together by suggesting they baptize their son after he’s born. This little family is growing more adorable with each heartfelt moment, and it makes me so happy to see how happy Mindy and Danny are to build a family together.

“Confessions of a Catho-holic” ended on a very sweet note: with everyone gathered back at the office to watch Jeremy’s one-man production of “An American Tale.” (I want to know who on the writing staff is a fan of An American Tail because that was the best random movie reference I’ve seen in any form of media in a long time.) While the B-plot was far less interesting than the A-plot this week, it did give Jeremy something genuinely funny to do, and it created an ending that felt like Parks and Recreation (which we all know is high praise coming from me). Sometimes all I need to be a happy fangirl is for the fictional characters I love to be happy, and that’s exactly what The Mindy Project gave me this week.

4 thoughts on “TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.19

  1. I think Kaling mentioned in her book that she used “Somewhere Out There” as an audition song so I bet American Tail shout out was because of her.

  2. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (3/8 – 3/15) | Nerdy Girl Notes

  3. Pingback: TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.20 | Nerdy Girl Notes

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