By Bizzy Emerson
Though it’s only been four months since we last saw “The Mindy Project”, it’s felt much longer for die-hard fans (especially after that finale!). Life without the sassy, smart TV romantic comedy has been pretty bleak. Fortunately, last night’s season 3 premiere did not disappoint, and was a perfect reminder of why “The Mindy Project” is one of the best sitcoms on network television right now.
At the end of season 2, Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and Danny (Chris Messina) were finally together – and for good — after a romantic kiss atop the Empire State Building. As we learned last night, the relationship is still going strong, and the episode kicked off with a mini love montage once again paying homage to the iconic rom-coms of which Kaling is a fervent student and fan.
The Mindy-Danny pairing was a little uneasy at first, and I was reluctant to see it take off as I worry the series is too young to resolve the central relationship. However, the characters are hilarious, genuine and complex individuals, giving the writers great mileage. The couple also has a lot of room to exist on this show without compromising the comedy, which is due to the writing but also to the developed chemistry between Kaling and Messina.
The first roadblock thrown at Mindy and Danny is their ever-conflicting personalities. Mindy wants the entire office to know about their sexcapades, while Danny wants the intimate details to remain private. Mindy eventually agrees to “change the very core of [herself]” in order to make the relationship work, promising to end the gossip. However, this eventually snowballs into Mindy discovering Danny used to be a stripper – “Diamond Dan.” A wildly unexpected development, this is easily one of the funniest avenues “The Mindy Project” has ever gone down, and it’s pretty clear that Chris Messina’s been hitting the gym for this plot point. He is the Italian Stallion of our dreams.
Meanwhile, there’s beef between Peter (Adam Pally) and Jeremy (Ed Weeks) as they both pine for the sarcastic brain surgeon, Lauren (Tracey Wigfield). In the end, it boils down to Lauren cheating on Peter with Jeremy, but to be honest this storyline felt inevitable and kind of boring. Pally is hilarious as Peter, and he’s being wasted in these muddled womanizing games. He’s at his best as Mindy’s confidant, and though it’s nice to see Peter transition from sleazy to soft, we’ve lost some of his spirit. It kind of seems like the writers are trying to find a place for Jeremy character, who has been in the show since its premiere, but who has been undoubtedly eclipsed by Peter.
Fan favorite Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz) is back, and is serving up his usual comedy realness. This time, he’s bringing along his cousin Lou, played by the incomparable Rob McElhenny. This marks the second guest appearance by an “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” cast member, and I’m hoping that the trend continues. Sweet Dee would be hilarious as one of Mindy’s patients, no?
Nonetheless McElhenny delivered as a con after Mindy’s heart. At the height of Mindy and Danny’s trust issues, he’s also the voice of reason, telling Danny to “be open with the people you know.” This leads to the sweetest moment of the night – on her balcony, Danny reads Mindy a list of secrets he was ashamed to admit (like the fact that he became a stripper to pay for medical school and his mother’s mortgage – SWOON), and in turn, Mindy confesses that she gossips too much about their relationship because she wants to make sure it’s real. The episode closes with Diamond Dan performing his stripper routine to “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz, and it’s hot, ladies.
Of course, as always there were some noteworthy style moments: I’m personally DYING to know who designed Mindy’s black, chandelier-esque dress, because she worked it. Likewise, Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) was not only on top of her comedy game, but was also looking fierce in her evening attire at the charity event.
However, the best moment of the night probably goes to Danny playing “Let it Go” from Frozen on the piano alone in his apartment. That’s going to be hard to top in subsequent episodes, but this premiere shows that “The Mindy Project” hasn’t skipped a beat and is back for another great season!
Bizzy Emerson is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com.