For Those Who Love and Hope for Love: The Mindy Project and Romance

The Mindy Project season finale aired last night, and any lifelong fan of romantic comedies was probably left squealing and clutching their battered copies of When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail. A perfectly crafted thirty-minute homage to some of the best and defining films of the genre, it saw (spoiler alert) Danny Castellano using some tricks from Billy Crystal and Tom Hanks to get back together with Mindy.

The Mindy Project is, of course, no stranger to some of the more popular romcom tropes, or even homage to some of these iconic films. An episode in season one was called “Harry & Sally,” and its storyline concluded in “Harry & Mindy”; the pilot episode included the standard revelation of feelings scene from You’ve Got Mail. Mindy Kaling herself has said many, many, many times how much she loves romantic comedies, and even interviewed Billy Crystal and gushed about When Harry Met Sally the entire time. So of course her love for romcoms is inscribed in the DNA of her show. The Mindy Project generally follows a boyfriend of the week structure, so we get to see Mindy chasing after all kinds of men. That variety allows for a mini-romantic comedy every week, because we get to see it all: the initial attraction, the honeymoon phase, then the crashing realization that something’s wrong. Sometimes, the boyfriends stick around for a few episodes, and when that happens, the trope changes. It’s not a romcom anymore; it’s allowed to expand and become something different. Continue reading