The final season. Perhaps the most daunting three words a running series can face. The pressure to neatly wrap up story lines, pay off story arcs, and add a satisfying conclusion has made even the strongest series fall flat (think Lost, True Blood, Dexter, etc.). THE MINDY PROJECT first aired on Fox in September of 2012 and will end its sixth season on Hulu this year. Although we’ve had nearly five years of time with the gang at Shulman & Associates, it doesn’t feel like much has changed. This season will be a testament to whether or not anyone, Mindy especially, has learned their lessons and are ready for life after they leave our screens.
We open this season’s first episode, titled Is That All There Is?, with Mindy half-heartedly enjoying the routine of married life with Ben in the suburbs. On paper, like many of Mindy’s relationship, it seems perfect. But we, the audience, and Mindy both know that she isn’t cut out for this kind of domestication. Her previous marriage to notably hot-headed Danny suffered from her ambition and launch of her IVF company Later Baby. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being driven, but Mindy is often too self-centered to realize when it’s not her career that she’s pushing forward, but loved ones she’s pushing away.
Back at the office tensions are still high. Karen is still, understandably, angry at Colette for abandoning her at their engagement party. As Karen passes out her organic, gluten, fibrous, fun-free cookies she makes sure to pass over her ex-fiance. It’s this kind of scorned lover dynamic that The Mindy Project has somewhat predictably played off of. It gets so out of control that Colette asks Mindy to fire Karen. To be fair Karen, though hurt, is being overly aggressive. Sure, you can be mad at your coworkers, but as Jodi says “We have well-to-do women in the office” and they need to keep things professional. Jodi then fires Karen to appease Colette, but this quickly sends the office into chaos as the office’s wacky nurse Beverly takes over.
Back at Later Baby Tamra makes a surprise visit. Despite her modelesque looks and Cardi B level of relatability, Tamra feels like she won’t ever find the right partner and wants to skip straight ahead to motherhood. Of course, Mindy is thrilled, more by the idea that Tamra willingly wants to be a single mother than the arrival of an actual baby, but thrilled none the less. Tamra urges Mindy to keep her baby dreams on the low to avoid hurting Morgan’s feelings. We know that Tamra and Morgan didn’t work out because of Morgan’s immaturity (and the fact that he lived with like 1,000 dogs when he started dating her), but when he helps Tamra with her hormone injections we see a side of Morgan rarely revealed. As he secretly gives her the poke, he reassures her that she’ll be a great mother and maybe even in a rekindling in the future between the two.
Tamra and Morgan aren’t the only two who make up. It’s clear the practice needs Karen back and it’s only going to work if she and Colette reconcile. They share a brief heart to heart and agree to be friends because as Colette puts it, “if I didn’t make up with my exes I couldn’t ever go into hardware stores”. Shulman & Associates has enough drama without these two fighting anyway.
Despite all of the rest of the relationship drama in the office, Jeremy and Anna’s appears to be the most stable. It’s going so well in fact that Jeremy asks Anna to move in with him. Well, it doesn’t go so well. Anna rebuffs his offer with a cool “I need to weigh the pros and cons”. If we’ve learned anything in the last five years with this show is that lukewarm feelings always end with someone getting hurt.
Anna, who has only had three boyfriends, decides to turn to dating pro-Mindy for advice. As Mindy goes through her box-o-ex’s to show that there isn’t more out there, it does just the opposite. Later we find Jeremy sitting in the janitor supply closet lamenting to Jodi about how Anna has dumped him. Her excuse? To see what else is out there. You see, as Mindy points out at the very beginning of the episode, many people spend their lives chasing this idea of what love is supposed to be like. They want the fairy-tale wedding, the kids, and the house, but once they get there they find themselves asking “Is that all there is?”. The truth is yes and no. Your life and the relationships in them are what you make them…but only if you are willing to put in the work.
It’s clear that Mindy isn’t. She had been sleeping next to a pile of pillows instead of Ben for two nights and hadn’t even noticed. It turns out that Ben had been staying in New Jersey for the past two days and wasn’t too happy about Mindy’s obvious neglect. He offers her one more chance and makes her promise to hang out with him that night “no matter how late she’s with patients”. Well, of course, Mindy drops the ball by falling asleep at the hospital, standing up an already fed-up Ben. It’s clear that Mindy isn’t the only person in this relationship whose expectations haven’t been met. The Mindy Project has often tried to shift what the idea of a traditional rom-com looks like and it’s clear that this season will be no different. This season will be a make or break for Mindy’s relationship with Ben and ultimately with her idea of what a happy ending looks like.
Season 6, Episode 1 (S06E01)
The Mindy Project streams Tuesdays on Hulu
Armani Barron | Contributor