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Cortney’s TV Goodness All-Stars 2013: The Mindy Project’s Chris Messina 

Photo Credit: FOX
Photo Credit: FOX

2012 may have brought Chris Messina to the small screen, but it was 2013 that really gave him the spotlight. I’ve loved the character of Danny on The Mindy Project from day one, but what Chris has done over the past year to develop and grow the character has turned this grumpy tough guy in to one of comedies most endearing curmudgeons. His chemistry with costar Mindy Kaling is undeniable and what repeatedly puts him on watch. Regardless if they’re fighting, flirting or just being friends, these two kill it whenever they’re in a room together. That being said, Chris is definitely not riding Mindy’s coattails…he’s earned an All-Star title all on his own and here are a few reasons why.

One look is literally worth a thousand words with this guy. I will never forget the change in Danny’s expression when he was hugging Mindy in an attempt to convince an ex that he and Mindy were engaged. It started awkward and clearly uncomfortable but as she settled in to the groove of his embrace, the look on his face goes from one of near pain to the most genuine and endearing look of complete and utter contentment. In my weekly Comedy Corner, I called Chris Messina a “god” for this. It was a performance worthy of a master class and one that I often see actors have a difficult time executing. But it wasn’t just the hug, we also saw his look go from domestic bliss to disappointment and heartbreak when Mindy admitted her crush on Cliff and again when he spotted her kissing Cliff. The man may not wear his heart on his sleeve, but he definitely wears his emotions on his face.

Photo Credit: Beth Dubber/FOX

He’s a tough guy with a marshmallow center. While he comes across as a gruff New Yorker in most situations, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a big teddy bear inside. And Chris repeatedly does a stellar job of making Danny both tough and soft. Aside from his clearly conflicted feelings with Mindy, we’ve seen Danny embrace his little brother, breakdown over his ex-wife and unintentionally expose himself for the sake of art. There is no doubt that he has an exterior of steel, but like the Tin Man, he also has a big heart and its quite possible that he is filled with goo.

For proof, look no further than the Christmas episode where Danny comes up with the perfect gift for Mindy. No, it’s not jewelry or a purse or an autograph from Beyoncé, it’s a re-enactment of the dance Aaliyah does in her “Try Again” music video. And why, you may wonder? Because it was the song Mindy kept listening to over and over when they first met….and while he claims it drove him crazy, the fact that he even remembers generates a collective awww from girls everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, Mindy would’ve loved the jewelry and been over the moon for Beyoncé, but the thoughtfulness of this gift rivaled any price tag.

Speaking of, I can’t continue without  mentioning that the man can dance! And I don’t mean just shuffling his feet or keeping time to a beat, he can MOVE! Chris Messina has some serious skills…dare I say, he even gave Aaliyah a run for her money. Granted, we’ve seen him hit the dance floor in the past, but this…well, this was something else. And he did not miss a beat. Every move was precise, every look was perfectly timed and every ounce of Danny oozed confidence. It was not just good, it was darn near perfect.

Lastly, I have to mention Chris Messina in the triathlon episode. He swims, he bikes, he runs, he wears pink tennis shoes and he even strips down to his speedo for the sake of the story. The determination that Chris infuses in to Danny in this episode is undeniable and regardless of how absolutely ridiculous he looks (and let me tell you, he does look ridiculous), you can’t help but cheer for Danny as he stumbles his way to the finish line. Now I know most of you will say “he’s acting” or “it’s a character” but not all actors are willing to make themselves look like fools for the sake of the story and I love that Chris, while seemingly straight-laced, doesn’t take himself too seriously.

But it isn’t just Chris’ Mindy Project performance that made him a 2013 All Star. This impressive actor also had a recurring role on HBO’s hit The Newsroom and is currently developing a yet untitled film, in which he will both star and direct. As far as we’re concerned, the more Chris, the better. So to 2014, we say bring it on!

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