Culture of Pop

‘The Mindy Project’ Recap: ‘Annette Castellano Is My Nemesis’

Thoughts on last night’s episode of The Mindy Project:

– Rhea Perlman as Danny’s mom: what a wonderful casting choice! I am assuming that Patti LuPone was unavailable for the job or has recently decided against guest-starring as various tough Italian television mothers.

– While it’s commendable for Mindy to continue to bring up and face head-on the stereotypes associated with women, women of color, and race in general (Danny not knowing what type of religion she is: “Orthodox … something?”, his mother mistaking Mindy for Danny’s new cleaning lady and then later referring to Mindy as “this one,” as in “I don’t like this one,” Mindy offhandedly asking Danny if she looks Dominican, then immediately telling him to not answer that question, Danny’s mom not liking Regis Philbin’s replacement, Danny’s mom talking about how thin and lithe his previous girlfriends were), it seemed like a lot of folksy racism and stereotype bashing to pack into one half-hour show. But I guess it’s done to illustrate the mindset of many people from the outer boroughs, such as the Castellano family from Staten Island (also see: Archie Bunker from Queens as well as Jerry Stiller’s Arthur from King of Queens), which is actually scarily accurate, said the writer who was also born and raised in Queens.

– And yet everyone loves and accepts Danny’s gay brother Richie with open arms. And by the way, Richie Castellano: what is happening to you? You have previously visited your brother looking like a well-groomed Banana Republic ad, but this week you seemed disheveled and a little lost. Okay, a lot lost. And broke. It was even suggested that you were starting to look like Mowgli from The Jungle Book. Dear Max Minghella, what strange turn of events are taking place in your minor character’s life?

–  While I’m as thrilled as you are to see them cast Rhea Perlman as Danny’s mother, can we just take a moment and recognize that her best friend Dot was played by another infamous television mom? It was Jenny O’Hara, who played Scott Scanlon’s mom from 90210! (Luckily there was no gunplay in tonight’s Mindy episode.)

– Danny Castellano, damn it, will you ever stop amazing us with your surprising secrets? Tonight we learned that he wrote a beautiful and erotic poem for Mindy entitled “Brown Orchid.” It was apparently so amazing that she shared it with her waxer. We can only hope in a future episode that Mindy recites the poem for her co-workers.

– We later saw that Danny’s mother still keeps his childhood room intact, complete with Thurman Munson poster and working record player.

– Are we just never going to bring up Betsy’s departure from the office? (I swear I’ll eventually stop harping on this.)

– Tamra and Morgan: gosh darn it, I’m beginning to like them as a couple! The way he swooped in and zapped her with an EpiPen as she was having an anaphylaxis reaction to his dog was both sweet and heroic. Should we start calling them Ta-Morgan? Tamgan? Morgra?

– Where was Dr. Jeremy Reed this week? Not even seen in the background around the office? That’s weird.

– How much are we supposed to care about Pete’s girlfriend situation? I feel like we’ve barely gotten to know Lauren (who by the way is played by Tracey Wigfield, who also just happens to be a writer on the show as well as a former writer and producer on 30 Rock) and yet we’re spending all of this time seeing Pete mope around the office about her. What about Maria Menounos, Pete? Why not just keep pining for her?

– Morgan has 40 dogs, you guys. FORTY. I’m sorry but for a guy who’s always claiming poverty, you have to wonder how he’s feeding and maintaining the lives of these animals (the one dog he bequeaths to Pete needs hemorrhoids medication (yuck) a few times a day, and it’s apparently quite expensive). Also, in real life, he would definitely have been on an episode of Animal Cops (that’s a real show on Animal Planet) by now.

– They’re getting better at integrating occasional guest stars into the storyline as well as keeping both the main plot and the minor character B-plot moving along at a quick and even rate. It actually is nice to see Morgan and Tamra’s relationship blossoming into something, and not just being used for throwaway laughs when there’s a need for something kooky or irreverent to happen in a scene.

When Danny’s mom asks Mindy what her rate is (for cleaning houses), Mindy mistakenly thinks she’s being asked to rate herself on a personal level (she’s not), and then decides she’s an eight. I would agree that tonight’s episode was probably an eight out of 10. The season is off to a promising start.

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