The Mindy Project | Season 4 Episode 5 | “Stay at Home MILF”

Posted by Chloë Lai & filed under Pop Culture, Television.

Credit: Jordin Althaus/NBC
Credit: Jordin Althaus/NBC

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In true The Mindy Project tradition, everyone is trying to please (or show up) someone else by pretending to be something they’re not. Except it’s a little different this time. Mindy and Colette come out of their (very, very different) respective closets, but for once, Mindy is not at the centre of the most sensational revelation; in a move that reflects her increasingly complex life, her return to work comes out of Danny’s unexpected family emergency rather than her own flair for the dramatic.

The episode opens with Mindy, nestled comfortably in a minefield of takeout containers reminiscent of the cockroach-populated bachelor pad in Joe’s Apartment, head propped up by a bag of chips. She happily declares the “noblest and hardest profession” of being a stay-at-home mom “the greatest scam on earth.” That is, until Danny comes home and tells her what her new job actually entails:

“Cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying the bills, waxing the floors, keeping the piano in tune, stocking the pantry, raising our son and maintaining a positive attitude that sets the tone for the rest of the household.”

Cue panic attack for all new mothers, and smug, war-worn grin of validation from mothers past.

Mindy turns to the internet for guidance and pulls up the Modern Mominista mommy blog, which is “a classy site, because the banner ads are for anti-depressants.”

With lively orchestra music (think Cinderella being dressed by small woodland creatures) in the background, Mindy dons a floral dress and follows the blog’s cheerfully patronizing audio instructions (“Dress every day like you’re on a date with your special little guy!”). When her dress gets dirty, she goes to change and comes back to the computer only to be told that she should now be coming back from a five-mile run to take her duck out of the oven.

The fabulous new Mominista hurls the laptop to the floor.

Meanwhile, at the office, Colette asks Morgan to pretend to be her boyfriend and come to her grandfather’s wedding so that she won’t have to tell Jody, who is desperate to find her a “male suitor,” that she’s gay.

The montage that follows intercuts scenes from the week, as Colette and Mindy’s attempts to be the women that their brother/fiancé imagine they are seem to be met with success. My favourites: Colette and Morgan sharing a skinny sausage, Lady-and-the-Tramp style, and Mindy using Swiffer pads to skate across her floor, spraying floor cleaner as she goes.

It all comes to a screaming halt when Mindy makes the same dinner for the fifth night in a row. In the ensuing discussion about the demands of their respective roles, Danny says that he’s envious that she gets to “hang out all day” with Leo, to which Mindy retorts, “You think I’m laying on the beach tits-deep in a margarita?” Cornered, Danny agrees to swap places with Mindy on Monday.

Things get off to a promising start: Danny’s discipline lends itself well to homemaking, and Mindy, back in the clinic, reminds Jody that she’s “the queen of this ish.”

Danny starts to fray at the edges as his schedule gets derailed (apparently he’s never had a cable guy show up late before) while Mindy just keeps getting better. She confronts Morgan about his fake relationship with Colette and performs a very successful surgery — “I forgot how much I love slicing open women. Thank God I became a doctor.” Mindy’s glow dims when she (rather unconvincingly) reasserts her commitment to giving up her career because “a child needs his doctor mother to be home to clean the floors and to prepare the father gourmet food.”

When Colette asks Mindy for fashion advice because the only dress she owns is from her first communion (and looks like a white version of the dress the creepy little twins in The Shining wore), Mindy advises her to tell her brother the truth, because “if you are not living your authentic self, what even was the point of Glee?” Somewhere along the line, she hears her own advice, but Colette hears it first and announces over the intercom, “I’m a lesbian. Over and out.” (Because there’s always room for puns.) Jody, distressed at what he thinks is the loss of ever having a brother-in-law to bond with, is soon consoled by Colette’s reassurance that they will both marry “hot trophy wives” with huge breasts. Hey, whatever it takes to keep the family together, right?

Arriving home to a spotless apartment, glazed duck and watercolour-painting fiancé, an emotional Mindy confesses to Leo that she needs to go back to work because, unlike Danny, she’s only good at one thing. A “hotel-quality bed corner” and towel swan, however, soon catch her eye. “I remember you telling me that origami was disrespectful to Pearl Harbour vets,” Mindy says, and when Danny’s best attempts at recreating the swan end up looking like “the gun from the Godfather,” the truth is out: he called his mother for help. Sharing their experiences of the challenges of being a stay-at-home parent opens up a sweet moment of honesty for the two, and it seems like the perfect moment for Mindy to tell Danny that she wants to go back to work.

Of course, that’s when the phone rings and Danny learns that his father has just had a heart attack.

While Mindy doesn’t end up telling Danny her true feelings, she does offer to cover his workload while he goes to be with his father. It’s an emotionally conflicted scene, as she finds herself getting what she wanted but without the satisfaction of having been honest with the man she loves.

It feels more grownup than a dramatic confession scene, though how this is going to play out once he comes back is a whole other thing. Plus, how often does having your hugely opinionated mother-in-law as your full-time nanny end well? Mindy just called in the big guns, and we all know how dangerous those can be. Things are about to get real.

About Chloë Lai

Chloë Lai
Chloë is a Vancouver-based writer who has lived and worked on several continents. She has degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing, because it seemed like the best way to emulate James Herriott without becoming a country vet.

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