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Cortney’s Comedy Corner: The Mindy Project Turns Cliches Into Comedy Gold 

Photo Credit: Beth Dubber/FOX
Photo Credit: Beth Dubber/FOX

When it comes to TV, cliches are all over the place. Sometimes they make us roll our eyes. Other times, they have a clever and creative twist that catches us by surprise. And this week was one of those times. Normally I’d look at three different shows, but I was so taken by The Mindy Project‘s “You Got Sext” episode that it’s earned all three of my spots. It took not one, not two, but three typical cliches, threw in a scoop of cuteness and created one of my favorite episodes so far. So without further ado, the cliche hat trick:

Comedy Corner Cliche #1: The phone swap or steal

So this one wasn’t so much a swap or steal as an accidental discovery. And if TV and film has taught us anything it’s that when you find you have someone else’s phone, what do you do? Pretend you’re them and text someone, of course. Normally this ends up with some absurd and awkward situation with the “texter” in so deep that they don’t know how to get out. And this was no exception. Except, the way that Morgan and Peter handled it didn’t have me rolling my eyes, but rather rolling on the floor in laughter. I’ll be honest, these two have not been my favorite recently so this came as big as a surprise to me as it did to anyone. But for some reason, watching them “play Mindy” with the cute lawyer, Cliff, down the hall, just worked. It may have been the texts on the screen (I’ve always loved when the show puts these to use) or it may have been Morgan and Peter’s downright giddiness, but I was totally on board. From the suggestive “winky face” to the full out party, these two were nothing if not dedicated to the gag. And I think it was really owning it that made it pay off. Had it just been texting from the doctor’s lounge, I don’t think it would’ve had the same impact. But once it got to the level of ridiculous, such  as Peter texting Cliff as Mindy while playing scrabble across the table from him and faking Mindy’s runs to the store, you couldn’t help but be on board. Don’t get me wrong, I was a little baffled that Cliff hung on so long (he is suppose to be smart after all), but then again, Mindy is pretty awesome so I guess the wait is worth it. But that being said, we’ll clearly have to wait a bit longer since Cliff ended up going home with Heather, much to Mindy’s chagrin.

Comedy Corner Cliche #2:
Faking the fiancee in front of the ex.

Photo Credit: Beth Dubber/FOX
Photo Credit: Beth Dubber/FOX

Again, we’ve all seen this a million times because what better way to avoid your ex than to make her think you’re already taken?! And in typical Mindy fashion, Mindy goes exactly this route when she and Danny encounter one of his former conquests (aka crazy neighbor), turning herself in to Chloe Silverado, Danny’s true love and baby mama. Now, as usual, this plot never plays out as intended. When Danny’s former lady love shows up at Danny’s apartment (or should I say creepily lets herself in to) to grill Danny and Mindy, there comes more than one point where it could clearly go wrong. But because Mindy can give it as well as she can take it, she sits down in an attempt to get everyone some closure. There are a handful of funny lines and moments as Mindy makes Danny squirm, but the best by far is when it appears that the ruse is up. Starting to catch on to the fact that this may all be an elaborate scheme, crazy neighbor calls them out on it. Of course, Mindy has no shame and immediately puts her arms around Danny and starts to snuggle in to prove their love. Danny, however, is the real winner in the scene. At first clearly uncomfortable and unsure how to actually hug, you can actually see his uncertainty melt away as he embraces Mindy and plants an adorable kiss on her head. And that’s when crazy neighbor realizes that they’re clearly a real couple (and the audience realizes that Danny may be feeling more than just coworker-y feelings towards Mindy) because “Danny never looked at [her] the way he looks at [Mindy]”. And she wasn’t kidding, if a look could convey a thousand words, Danny’s feelings for Mindy rival the dictionary. Honestly, Chris Messina, you are a god.

Comedy Corner Cliche #3:  She has a crush on “him” but is “him” “me”?

Okay, so I know this sounds confusing, but stick with me. So Mindy tells Danny that she has feelings for someone (which we know is Cliff) and slowly but surely, Danny begins to believe that he is that “someone.” Of course this leads to both adorable and awkward moments as you see them both unknowingly having two completely different conversations using the same words. From Mindy climbing in bed with Danny (platonic on her part, a suggestion on his) to the whole #2 scenario (a helpful plot on her part, apparent wishful thinking to him), this typically awkward cliche came across endearing and at times heartbreaking. They nearly have “the talk” when they are interrupted by crazy neighbor and yet again, the future of this couple is put on hold. I’ve always loved loved loved these two together. Whether they are fighting or being friendly, they have such a great dynamic, but that being said, I know that they are end game and I’m fine with them playing this back and forth game for a while longer. However, it was the next morning that really got me and almost nearly made me want it to happen NOW! When Danny is making Mindy pancakes (something she earlier informed him that you DO NOT do for just anyone) and their conversation veers dangerously close to the love topic, the look in Danny’s eyes could again part the seas. But as soon as Mindy revealed Cliff to be her true intended, Danny’s entire attitude changes and you can visibly see his content, self-assured and, dare I say, happy demeanor melt away and, once again, we’re left with the much more guarded and curmudgeonly Danny. Don’t get me wrong, I still like this Danny, but to see the other side of him made my heart melt. It seems like these two are never on the same page, but don’t worry, I’m willing to keep reading until we all get there.

The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c on FOX.

Honorable Mention: FNL Reference on New Girl

Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/FOX
Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/FOX

So I know that I said this article would be all about Mindy, but I cannot go without acknowledging New Girl‘s “Menus” episode for its exceptional Friday Night Lights shout out. It was subtle, it was brief and it was probably missed by 75% of the audience, but his reference to wheel-chaired Winston as [Jason] Street was a wink and nod to all those FNL-ers out there who know clear eyes and full hearts can’t lose.

New Girl airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on FOX.

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