The Mindy Project Recap: 4×02 “C is for Coward”

Reading the title of this episode, I assumed it had to do with Dr. C. But the C stands for C-section, and “Coward,” it turns out, refers to Mindy…

Paleo Birth versus Big Fertility

Mindy and Danny are talking baby names. Mindy wants something that both refers to a classic movie character and is gender-neutral, in case he’s trans. She is also trying to seduce Danny in bed as he reads, but he’s afraid that his penis is going to bump the child on the head.

Mindy: This is my baby. He loves sex sounds.

Danny’s not convinced by Mindy’s argument or by anything he learned in anatomy class in med school, so Mindy decides to draw her own erotica, which Danny eventually realizes is just the number 69 written over and over again. She tackles him again, desperate for “sweet d,” but he pushes her off. Who did the “irrational man thinks he has a huge penis and will hurt the baby by having sex with the mom” scene better, The Mindy Project or Knocked Up?

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Later Baby!

The next morning Mindy reveals that she and Morgan have started a fertility company called “Later Baby!” to try to convince women in their twenties to want to freeze their eggs. They try their pitch on Tamra, but they’re too late: she already saw the midwives’ ad for paleo birth, which also stars someone billed as an “actress, mother, health expert.” Hee.

Deslauriers, voice-over: Pollution. Drought. Peanut sensitivity. The modern world is ruining our lives.

When Danny overhears Mindy talking about her birthing plan, where she’ll be blissfully unconscious, she shows him the fancy birthing suite she’s booked. They put spa water in the IV for you! “It’s everything I’ve ever creamed of,” says Mindy, taking advantage of their newfound status as a Hulu show, unbound by network TV decency standards (other things that make their appearance in this episode now that it’s not on Fox: the word “tit,” Danny actually grabbing Mindy’s tit, respect for trans people).

Mindy has purchased the “5-day C-section knockout plan,” which frankly sounds pretty great once you factor in the spa water. Danny is surprised she wants to miss the most beautiful day of her life. He thinks the little guy might want to come out naturally. Everyone at the fancy birthing suite is appalled.

So Danny teams up with the enemy, Brendan Deslaurier, to get some “superstitious hoodoo for dum-dums,” or tips on how to induce labor naturally before Mindy’s “baby-removal appointment.”

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The Deslauriers’ ad.

This leads to a pretty great scene where Danny puts into place all of the tips in one romantic night, while Brendan’s honeyed voice narrates each aspect of it. Spicy food! Wine! And, yes, sex—apparently Danny’s disapproval of sex during late pregnancy is outweighed by his disapproval of what Mindy wants to do with her body. Mindy is thrilled: “This is great news, because I’ve been cheating on you with a banister.” Hee.

But Mindy finds the book and realizes Danny’s trying to boink the baby out of her. They hash it out: Danny thinks she should be awake for this beautiful moment, Mindy wants to sleep through the grossness and pain of childbirth. (“Basically your vagina explodes a bloody, screaming little alien,” she summarizes.) Danny says the pain of childbirth is a rite of passage for a woman. Gross. He thinks she’s trying to sleep through her first challenge as a mom.

I am not loving Patriarchal Judgy Danny, guys. In case you couldn’t tell.

While Mindy and Morgan are on their way to the expo—standing, while Tamra hogs the disabled seat because her legs are tired—they run into the Deslauriers on the train. Mindy brags about her birthing suite, “that Saddam Hussein called, quote, a bit much.” But her water breaks, and then the train skids to a halt because someone fell in front of it trying to make a viral video.

Deslauriers to the rescue, “although my techniques are designed for younger, more athletic women”! Mindy finally gets a seat and Brendan tries to talk her through the birth. His meditation techniques, like using mantras (“Save my money and spend his,” Mindy chants), music, and burning sage, don’t work at all on Mindy.

She asks everyone to punch her in the face to knock her out. Brendan wants to, but heroically resists. Tamra finally does it when Mindy yells that Beyonce is really 44. But it doesn’t knock Mindy out. “That did nothing, and I betrayed Beyonce,” she sobs.

Brendan: I’m stumped. Mantras, herbs… we’ve tried everything but modern medicine.

At least, as Morgan discovers, this situation is a great advertisement for freezing your eggs so you don’t have to go through this for decades. Several terrified young women, having watched the pain Mindy went through, are now happy to take Morgan’s “Later Baby!” cards.

Just then Danny shows up on the train somehow, having heroically outrun a policeman and sprinted down the tracks to find her. He shoves Brendan out of the way and apologizes for being a jerk.

“Hooray,” I think, “he’s going to say she can do whatever she wants with her own body.” No such luck, he is just saying that he understands she wanted this whole birthing suite thing because she’s scared. Then he says he’s scared too, and, fighting back tears, says the only thing that helps him is knowing he’s going through it with someone much stronger than he is. Mindy doesn’t believe him at first, but he convinces her she’s tougher than anyone he knows—even his ma. They say they love each other. And my soft heart is melted. I’m starting to suspect I can only stick to my feminist principles when Danny and Mindy aren’t giving each other goopy looks.

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Baby Castellano

Later, in the hospital, Mindy cradles their incredibly cute and fat-cheeked baby. She asks Danny to name the kid since she’s tired from doing all the actual work. So he names him “Leo,” as in Leonardo DiCaprio, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Leo the lion, who’s strong like his ma.

“I’m a ma,” Mindy realizes, awed.

Jeremy’s Sad Dinner

Jeremy, who’s just starting to figure out he’s a total pariah in the office, desperately wants everyone to come to dinner with his real, live girlfriend Whitney. He’s even treating, and still no one will go, even Beverly, who’s taking a night class on how to make excuses at work.

Danny gets trapped into going because he admits he’s not going to the expo with Mindy after their fight. When he shows up, Jeremy has hired some actors to play his friends, including one guy who insisted on dressing as a surfer dude.

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Jeremy gives Danny some much-needed advice.

Danny only stays for about thirty seconds. This is long enough for Jeremy to point out that Mindy’s trying to have this baby painlessly because she’s scared. Mindy always goes into denial when she’s scared. Maybe now Danny will be nice to Jeremy since he’s become so insightful and helpful. But he gets wind of the fact that Mindy’s having a baby underground right now and dashes off.

Jeremy’s surfer “friend” shows up, luckily. “You look great,” says a resigned Jeremy, putting his arm around him and heading in.

Do they even need Jeremy on this show? I had to work pretty hard to come up with four paragraphs for this recap to justify giving it its own section, and it’s the most Jeremy’s had to do in like a season and a half. Doesn’t this actor, who’s funny, handsome, and seemingly quite charming in real life, want more to do?

A note

Frankly, I wouldn’t have a voluntary C-section and I laughed mercilessly when the shallow, not-super-bright stepmother on Gilmore Girls was poked fun at for scheduling one. Yet this episode felt a little condescending to Mindy and to women in general. Yeah, it turns out both modern medicine and “paleo” medicine have their shortcomings. But between Mindy and Danny, it seems like Mindy’s original choices are kind of dismissed and explained away as the product of fear. That doesn’t leave a lot of room to point out that what Danny says about how pain is so beautiful and Mindy isn’t a real woman till she’s experienced it, is total mansplaining.

That said, it was a pretty damn funny episode. I love that the Deslauriers are back. I love that Mindy considers the number 69 to be good erotica. Thank goodness this show wasn’t confined to the ranks of beloved shows cancelled way too soon.

All images (c) Hulu

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