The Mindy Project – Season 1, Episode 23 “Frat Party” Review

Rating:  7.5

Alright, this episode was pretty much hilarious. If anyone is looking for some TV that will make them laugh consistently for 22 minutes, check out “Frat Party.” I’ve already watched it twice, and both times felt like they just zoomed by. Granted, the show dealt again with some intense subject matter that was resolved rather superficially, but I suppose that is the downside of only having 22 minutes. For once, though, I feel like talking about the good news before the not-so-good.

First, the laughs: The pacing of this episode was much improved from other ones, and the stakes were high (which is always good for comedy). The jokes were mostly silly and could probably better be described as gags, and there is plenty of slapstick. Maybe I’m just a simpleton that way, but I love pure silliness. This is where The Mindy Project is strongest comically: when emotions are high and our expectations can be played with because we are so invested. We’re not looking ahead, but staying in the moment accepting whatever ridiculous thing comes our way.

An extreme environment (like a frat party) is the perfect backdrop for the characters’ impulses to shine, and historically the funniest things I have seen are when people are desperate to return to normalcy in a wacky, wacky world. (i.e. Charlie Chaplin eating shoelaces mistaking them for spaghetti, or Derek Zoolander confusedly trying to pull his underwear out of his pants). I’m not saying this show is as funny as those things, but it is getting there, and I am becoming more and more impressed with each episode.

My main issue with the show, however, is that Mindy is constantly faced with life-altering decisions (especially in her time with her current boyfriend, Casey), and her mind is changed practically by the batting of eyelashes (especially in Casey’s case). I suppose it keeps the show consistently moving forward, and it shows how deep their connection is…but I’m not buying it. Along with the ridiculous circumstances of The Mindy Project that make is so darn funny comes an unfortunate suspension of disbelief when stuff gets “serious” (and I surround that word with quotations because serious stuff is often swept under the rug).

An easy solution to this would be to make episode arcs; separate one episode into two, leaving a nice cliffhanger at the end. This was the perfect opportunity:  it’s the second to last show of the season, and Morgan has to decide whether he wants to come back to the practice or not while Casey has revealed some big news (again). Mindy’s decision doesn’t have to be made after Casey’s one heartfelt appeal. Perhaps it’s just in her character’s makeup to want to be in a relationship so badly that she’ll keep changing her mind. If there had been an episode arc, Mindy could have come to her decision through a more profound means of discovery, and the stakes would have been raised even higher.

It’s just a sidenote, and not a deal-breaker by any means, but I truly believe the show could be “great” and not just “good” if it put as much energy into being funny as it did into showing us the nitty-gritty of Mindy’s character development, rather than just telling us. Like extreme circumstances, slapstick, or high emotion, a little darkness is what helps comedy become legendary. Even when some of the subject matter gets sinister, The Mindy Project has barely ever tip-toed out of the light.

If you tire of darkness, though, and you need a quick pick-me-up, don’t head down to your local fraternity to drink out of a Viking helmet. Just watch this week’s episode of The Mindy Project.

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