The Mindy Project 4×18 ‘Bernardo and Anita’: Mindy meets West Side Story

Mindy Family

The Mindy Project has been able to explore more stories outside of romance since Mindy and Danny separated. For most of its run, the show was a romantic comedy. While it was entertaining, it’s fun to see the writers branch out and find new stories to tell in Mindy Lahiri’s world. This week’s story was particularly great, centering on Mindy’s Indian heritage.

Mindy’s heritage is something that has been discussed before, but never this deeply. It’s interesting and fun to see Mindy attempting to connect to Indian culture after a date calls her a “coconut” (“brown on the outside, white on the inside”).

What’s interesting is that most of the humor doesn’t derive from Mindy’s actions this episode. That’s not to say that Mindy Kaling isn’t hilarious, and she gets several great lines in the ep.. But the episode takes seriously Mindy’s attempts to connect to her heritage. She’s happy and at ease at Anisha and Ravi’s dinner party, with the cringe comedy coming from Jody. When she throws a Mundan ceremony, she has a few jokes about hiring a Hindu priest off of Yelp, but the ceremony itself is taken seriously, as is Mindy’s crushed reaction when she thinks it was a failure.

Source: Hulu

Source: Hulu

Normally an episode relies around Mindy’s overreactions or bungled attempts to save a bad situation. But this episode dispenses with that, as it wants the audience to take Mindy’s journey seriously. Her heritage isn’t the joke, and the show makes that fact very clear. The show’s humor is more gentle then normal, with most of the jokes coming from Mindy’s family as they discuss how they perceive their heritage. (My favorite was the Lahiris recounting their Mundan ceremonies, which also didn’t go as planned).

Another part of the ep. I really enjoyed was Danny and his reaction to the Mundan ceremony. Danny is actually a great part of the episode, and his understanding behavior goes a long way towards making him a likeable character again. He still has moments of obnoxiousness (Danny initially reducing Mindy’s heritage to “…snake festival…the elephant this or that…”), but overall he listens and appreciates Mindy’s desire to make Leo aware of his heritage. I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the first step towards Danny trying to understand Mindy more. Still, I’m glad Danny wasn’t featured more, as this episode really was all about Mindy and her heritage.

I hope this isn’t the last we see of Neel and Mindy’s new friends, as well as her attempts to teach Leo about his heritage. It’s a great opportunity for more storylines, as well as a fantastic chance to see more of Lahiris.

Notes and Observations

  • Jody’s opinion on Mindy and her heritage: “Honestly, I think of you as a white man. Largely because of your entitlement.”
  • Rishi’s opinion on Mindy’s and his heritage: “We represent a new kind of Indian American. One with literally zero roots to our past.”
  • Shulman and Associates used to do “erotic announcements.” Yeah, I can see that going very badly.
  • Mindy whipping out that huge pocket knife was hilarious.
  • Rishi’s disappointed that he went to Stanford: “It’s not even a top 100 party school.”

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