The Mindy Project Recap: 4×05 “Stay at Home MILF”

Last week on The Mindy Project, we met the practice’s new hires, Colette and Jody. This week, they each get more lines than Jeremy, surprising no one.

If you’ll recall, Mindy quit her job last week to become a stay-at-home mother to her new son, Leo. Let’s see how that turns out.

Stay-At-Home Moms and Dads

Mindy thinks being a stay-at-home mom is the best thing ever—for the first day. She lies around pigging out and hanging out with Leo. “Hey Leo, can you pass the chips please?” she asks politely, but he gives her a cute little baby look until she realizes that she’s been using it as a pillow while she lounges on the couch.

The best gig ever.

The best gig ever.

Danny comes home and asks gently about the mess. Mindy, in turn, asks about dinner. He was in surgery for six hours and assumed that was Mindy’s bag now, but she explains that she obviously didn’t have time for this because she and Leo have been napping and making a “Baby’s First Enemy List” (mostly celebrity babies and a loud garbage truck). It turns out Danny also fired the housekeeper without telling Mindy and expected her to be doing all the cleaning. And to magically know about doing all the cleaning even though she thought they had a housekeeper. “I can’t clean! I was born in this country, and I’m too lazy!” she protests.

Mindy realizes being a stay-at-home mom is her new job. She asks Danny for a job description, and he rattles one off that includes waxing the floor and “maintaining a positive attitude that sets the tone for the rest of the household.” [Janes: Vomit.] Mindy has the sense to look panicked about this at first, but then she decides she can pour all her energies and ambitions into being a stay-at-home mom just like she did at her last job.

So: she finds a bossy, shallow mommy blog, the Modern Mominista, and decides to follow its rules. “You can tell it’s a really classy site because the banner ads are for antidepressants.” That one makes me giggle just typing it. She greets Danny on his way out with a coffee, which has a full, wrapped mini-tub of creamer in it (but which Danny says he loves). Then she proceeds to follow the steps of the mommy blog:

Step number one is to have a fabulous outfit. Luckily Mindy has an endless supply of adorable dresses and color-coordinated aprons that I can only assume are from Anthropologie, which is the only place that still sells them. She puts on her cute outfit. Step two is to clean the floor with organic products—by hand, because you can’t wake up the baby with a vacuum. After that ordeal, Mindy finds herself back at step one, because her first outfit (and hairdo) has obviously been ruined by all the cleaning.

Consulting Mominista on every move.

Consulting Mominista on every move.

Things start to really fall apart around step six, where Mominista is finishing her five-mile run and a roast duck. Mindy throws the laptop on the floor. But she’s waiting in her cute dress, pearls, and headband (her outfits keep getting more and more Betty Draper throughout the episode, which is pretty funny) when Danny walks in the door. She greets him by calling him “My beautiful breadwinner,” with a dinner of grilled cheese, tomato soup, and wine waiting on the table. Danny’s thrilled, although he does look a little alarmed when she insists on taking off his coat for him, so he appears to have retained some knowledge of which decade he’s living in.

Throughout the week, Mindy greets Danny with smoothies on his way out the door, primps in the mirror, and generally appears to be rocking this whole stay-at-home MILF thing. This illusion falls apart for us at the end of the montage when Mindy greets Danny with “queso panini and my take on hot gazpacho.” Heh. Danny kindly says that grilled cheese and tomato soup sounds great, but that he picked something up from work and would like to hit the gym now. He worked all day and would like a break, while Mindy’s work was fun. Mindy’s like, “You think this is a vacation? You think I’m laying on a beach, tits deep in a margarita?” They decide to settle this by switching roles on Monday: Mindy will work, and Danny will stay home with Leo. Mindy also insists that she’ll be off to the gym now while Danny takes care of the baby, thanks. She wins that one too, but then realizes, “Dammit! Now I have to go to the gym!”

She wakes up on Monday to Danny offering her, “French toast, moan ee-more?” His terrible French accent is by far the cutest thing about him this season. He casually mentions, “It helps if the brioche is fresh, so I stopped at the bakery on the way back from my run.” Mindy didn’t notice him getting up early because she was dreaming of Taylor Swift and farting, apparently.

danny on phone

Harder than it looks!

But the rest of Danny’s day doesn’t go so well. He starts out strong, with a to-do list, a freshly baked pie, and a plan: “Go to the pediatrician early, we’ll still have time to work on our Italian flashcards.” But then the electrician is late, Danny knocks over his first pie picking up Leo’s rattle, and his spare pie is lost to a formula accident. It reminds me of the end of Woman of the Year, when Katherine Hepburn can’t handle the toaster and the waffle iron at the same time, which always cracks me up. (Unlike this storyline that movie is actually incredibly offensive, but… it’s Hepburn and Tracy, so.)

At work, Mindy responds to questioning from a slightly nervous Jody: “What am I doing here? That’s like asking Rihanna what she’s doing at the met ball. I’m the queen of this ish.” She learns she’s going to be doing a hysterectomy with Jody. But it goes beautifully. At the end, Jody and Mindy celebrate with whiskey. Mindy’s impressed: “Whoa, a flask? Mine was confiscated at an American Girl store.” I’d really like to see a flashback of that incident on the show someday. Jody is sad she’s not going to be around for his triplet delivery later this week.

Mindy's great at one thing: her job

Mindy’s great at one thing: her job

She arrives home trying to comfort Danny with a little white lie that her first day back was hard too (it wasn’t). But the place looks perfect—and there’s duck on the table. “I almost didn’t get to wax the floor ‘cause I was glazing the duck,” Danny humblebrags. [Janes: I almost would have liked this episode more if he really had been a natural-born Mominista. Almost.] Later, Mindy has a private talk with Leo: she wants him to be proud of her, and unlike Danny she can’t be great at everything, she’s only great at her job. How will she tell Danny?

That’s when she realizes the bed has been made with “hotel-quality bed corners.” She marches out and tries to guilt Danny into confessing with a towel swan. “It’s funny, because I remember you telling me that origami was disrespectful to Pearl Harbor vets.” Hah! She wants him to show her how he did it. He wraps it around his hand like a boxing glove. Mindy throws the towel at him and calls him out. “You brought your mother in as a ringer to make me look bad.” He says it wasn’t to make her look bad: “My schedule was in shreds by twelve, I called Ma crying, OK? I couldn’t do it.” They commiserate over how hard it is: Leo always throws up on a new outfit, and cries with no sound coming out. Danny even says he wants to use diapers that are bad for the environment. Mindy’s ahead of him there: “I’ve already been using them, actually. I keep them in the ceiling with my candy.” He says he’s lucky he’s with someone who actually wants to do this every day. Mindy is once again working up the courage to contradict him on this when Little Danny calls to fuck everything up again. Danny’s dad has had a heart attack and he needs to go out there.

Danny freaks out about leaving the practice and Leo, but Mindy has the perfect solution: she’ll cover Danny’s work at the practice and Annette can come back to take care of Leo. Danny says she’s the best and thanks her. When he’s offstage she calls lamely, “I’m actually happy to go back to work.” No answer.

Colette’s Closet

Because no one ever listens to him and everyone is too busy complaining, Jeremy has gotten an intercom. He uses it to announce the forty-digit wifi password, but unfortunately Jody shuts him off right at that moment to ask for everyone’s help finding Colette a man she can take to their grandfather’s wedding. “Oh, and for your information, Jewish is fine,” he announces magnanimously.

As soon as he leaves, everyone discusses the fact that Colette is totally gay. This is confirmed when Colette receives a text from Jody: he’s found her a cab driver to date. The cab driver “isn’t handsome, but he has a conversational mastery of English.” So I don’t think Jody even has a high opinion of Colette’s romantic prospects. But Colette doesn’t need anything as fancy as someone with a normal grasp of conversation and the American dream. She marches into Morgan’s office and asks if he’s aware she’s gay. He is: “I mean, your Pinterest is all pictures of steaks you want to cook. I made it my homepage.”

Morgan and Colette seal the deal.

Morgan and Colette seal the deal.

Colette explains that she doesn’t want to disappoint Jody because he loves her so much, so she needs Morgan to be a beard. Morgan thrills that this is his first ask-out. They proceed to pretend to be totally in love in front of Jody. Morgan gives Colette a bouquet that’s basically a handful of dirt ripped out of someone’s garden, feeds her jerky, and makes out with her constantly. Jody totally buys it.

Ever wonder why can't this guy get a girlfriend?

Ever wonder why can’t this guy get a girlfriend?

By the time Mindy shows up on Monday, Jody is inviting Morgan over for a family event. “You’re not hunting him for sport, are you?” Mindy asks nervously. Jody reassures her they don’t do that anymore. It’s because Morgan and Colette are in love! “Yes, I love men, I love being in this relationship,” Colette says with a pained grimace.

Mindy tells Morgan in a private conversation that you can’t turn gay people straight: she’s tried. But Morgan says he needs this because Jody is the first person to take him out on a boat and actually bring him back. Also, Jody feeds him his favorite food: scraps. “I need this.”

So Mindy tries to persuade Colette to tell the truth. But Colette doesn’t want to disappoint Jody. “Even if that means I have to lie. Forever.” Mindy obviouses, “You shouldn’t hide who you are from someone you love.” Then she realizes her advice applies to herself. “Well, if he loves you he’ll understand,” Colette says. Mindy smiles sweetly as Colette realizes that she should tell Jody. She does so over the intercom, all businesslike, only to be met with an office-wide blast of Jody yelling “Noooooo” at the top of his lungs.

Colette inter-coms out.

Colette inter-coms out.

The brother and sister meet in the center of the office. Jody explains that he doesn’t mind gay people—half the boys in boarding school were messing around with each other. But he wanted a brother-in-law. “We were going to grill together… complain about our wives…” Colette reassures him that she’ll be the brother-in-law; after all, she loves blondes with big breasts who love to shop, just like Jody. “This coming-out is getting less touching,” Mindy announces. I’ll say!

Morgan tries to turn the coming-out into something positive for their relationship: he doesn’t care if she’s gay or even transgender. But Colette turns him down (honesty is one benefit of coming out, but I think the real reward is not having to pretend to be attracted to Morgan), and he mourns, “You could have had the best.”

Thoughts

I thought this was a pretty great episode. Never realized how many times I’d seen the “two people switch places and both of them find the other one’s job impossible, leading to increased understanding” trope until The Mindy Project took the trope and smashed it in half. Turns out, Mindy completely understands, has mastered, and can pass at a walk the challenges that Danny faces each day, because they are total equals in the professional world. But Danny needed increased understanding of the challenges that she faced being a stay-at-home mom. Mindy Kaling is very talented at alluding to romantic comedy and other pop-culture tropes, and she used this one to make a very clear point: that Mindy needed no improvement, no awakening, no increased empathy. That’s why her half of the usual storyline went against all the expectations created by previous versions of this trope.

So disrespectful to veterans,

So disrespectful to veterans, “Danny.”

Also, notice that the montage of Mindy being the perfect housewife is a joint montage with moments of Morgan and Colette’s fake relationship. Another point being made: She’s playing a part that doesn’t suit her, just like Morgan and Colette. Even if she were attempting to translate her ambition and drive into being the best homemaker ever, it was still not her authentic self, or her authentic way of being.

All in all, a depressing but funny and well-done episode. See you next week!

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