Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Mindy Project 2.11: "Christmas Party Sex Trap"

“Sometimes, the best gifts don’t cost anything.”
“I guess, if you’re, like, a poor mouse in a Christmas special.”
-Danny and Mindy

This was a rather bittersweet holiday episode of “The Mindy Project.” As you might expect, given the romantic comedy influence on the show, a lot of relationship tension comes to a head at the Shulman and Associates office holiday party. The real focus is on the Danny/Mindy/Cliff triangle, but there are other romantic subplots happening, too. I saw “Love Actually” for the first time earlier this weekend, so maybe I’m just in that headspace right now. “Christmas Party Sex Trap” evokes a similar atmosphere. Love and hope with a bit of raunchiness. Perhaps the most inexplicable thing about this episode is that Jeremy is once again thin. I guess the creative team finally heard the commentariat saying that a fat Jeremy just isn’t funny? I’m not by any means skinny myself, but I found Jeremy to be more interesting when he was a womanizer. I think in his current state (skinny, then fat, now skinny again), there are a lot of directions his character could go.

Much like “Mindi Laheri is a Racist,” the cold open was a sort-of standalone comedy bit. Mindy is going to buy an office Christmas tree, and it turns out to be a lot more trouble than it’s worth. The tree Mindy really wants costs over $200, so she goes for a more “Charlie Brown Christmas” style smaller tree. She also mistakenly thought that the tree could be delivered to the office. Instead, the salesman ties it to Mindy’s back. And she can’t get into a cab that way, obviously. Mindy finally gets the tree to the office, only to find out that the staff has already put up a tree (which looks to me like a fake tree). Mindy completely loses it, gathering up the fake tree, taking it outside, and tossing it off the fire escape. The staff is just really confused about why Mindy just destroyed their tree.

Mindy’s most recent crush, lawyer Cliff, is still seeing skanky Heather, but I suppose that the holidays have given Mindy the optimism to think she can change that. Mindy’s scheme involves throwing a Christmas party for their entire office building (since Cliff works in the same building and all). The specific “man trap” plan involves three stages. First is to ignore him, second is to sing “Santa Baby” provocatively, and the third is to invite him outside for a bit of air. Pulling off this party is going to be easier said than done, though. Danny’s grumbly about the whole thing, obviously, because he wants Mindy to himself. He spends his time working on a gingerbread version of Monticello and cheaping out on Secret Santa gifts for Mindy. Then there’s all the diet restrictions among the staff. Tamra can’t have gluten, and Peter’s trying to cut back on alcohol. A gluten-free and alcohol-free holiday party doesn’t sound especially fun to anyone, but Mindy is determined to make it work.

The B story is an only slightly exaggerated take on how difficult it is if you can’t be completely gluttonous during the holidays. Jeremy is thin again because he went away to a sort of “fat camp,” but he’s got to be on a very strict diet if he’s going to maintain his new weight. As I already mentioned, presumably due to the events of “Wedding Crushers,” Peter has decided that he shouldn’t drink so much in the future. Jeremy and Peter try to be each other’s “sober companions” through the holiday season. With all the parties and sweets and drinks that generally come with the holiday season, they certainly need all the help they can get. By the end of the episode, though, both have completely fallen off the wagon. Mindy got herself a “wine bra” so that she could still drink at the party, and Peter tries to drink from it. Also, Jeremy completely trashes (and eats much of) Danny’s gingerbread Monticello. Refraining from indulgence during the holidays is certainly easier said than done.

The holiday part gets a little more complicated when Mindy, without thinking, tells one of the midwives and his new girlfriend (who happens to be Maria Menounos) that she’s dating one of the lawyers in the building, and he’s going to be at the party. She’s referring to Cliff, of course, with the slight problem being that they aren’t actually dating yet. Mindy’s man trap plan becomes even more important as she tries to avoid further embarrassment. Phase one of Mindy’s plan goes off swimmingly. Cliff arrives at the party, and Mindy starts talking and laughing with a random dude to make Cliff jealous. While Mindy’s getting ready for “Santa Baby,” however, the midwife tells Cliff about Mindy’s new “boyfriend,” and Cliff leaves. Mindy is devastated when she realizes that Cliff is gone, and Maria Menounos ends up singing “Santa Baby” instead. Which pisses off her midwife boyfriend. He thinks it’s a sexist song.

Mindy is sulking in a back room, drinking from her wine bra like there’s no tomorrow. Danny checks on her and says he thinks he has a Secret Santa present that will cheer her up. He turns on Aaliyah’s “Try Again” and does a hilariously awesome dance. Danny Castellano’s got moves, y’all! Mindy thinks this is pretty much the most adorable thing ever (because it is), and it looks like she and Danny might be about to kiss when Peter and Jeremy burst into the room. Peter wants to drink from the wine bra (there really isn’t much left), and Jeremy wants to apologize for inhaling the gingerbread Monticello. They shoo Peter and Jeremy out, but the mood is already killed. Danny hopefully asks Mindy if she wants to get some air, but Mindy says no.

Everybody but Danny seems to be in a better romantic situation by the end of the episode. Peter is obsessed with Maria Menounos, but he doesn’t think he can talk to her sober. Eventually, after he sees Maria and the midwife break up, he works up the courage to talk to her. At first, he’s a mess, but when Maria mentions she doesn’t have a ride home, Peter realizes one advantage of being sober. He can provide the ride home. Meanwhile, Mindy is out on a balcony stewing over her bad luck when Cliff appears again. He says he broke up with Heather, and now he wants to date Mindy. Mindy is only too happy to accept Cliff’s offer and start making out with him while Danny watches them wistfully from an upstairs window.

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