“The Mindy Project” has claimed its stake in the pop culture as the TV show obsessed with romantic comedies. That’s because its creator and star, Mindy Kaling, has made it known that she’s obsessed with romantic comedies. Most of “The Mindy Project” has revolved around Mindy fervently trying to shape her life to the mold of her favorite rom-coms.
Fittingly, the second-season finale Tuesday night was one long homage to “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” two of Mindy’s Meg Ryan favorites that were also featured in the first scene in the pilot. At the end of the episode, Mindy got her perfect rom-com ending. Danny (the prickly co-worker she always fights with, even though you knew all along they were soulmates) realized he was truly in love with her, and raced up to the top of the Empire State Building to declare his feelings.
It was glorious. And ultimately, highly unfortunate. That’s because the adorable final scene — Mindy and Danny cuddling on the top of the Empire State Building and bantering about how many kids they should have — ultimately revealed the fatal flaw in the show’s design: When your series is all about leading up to the happily-ever-after, where do you go after it takes place?
Sure, next year (its already been picked up for a third season by Fox, reportedly for 15 episodes) can technically be all about Mindy and Danny navigating their new relationship, and hilarity can ensue. But we’ve seen that already. They tried dating earlier this season and it didn’t work out. Do we really want to sit through that again?
Or, if they take the opposite tactic — Mindy and Danny in romantic bliss! — many shows have learned the hard way that their main will-they-or-won’t-they couple can lose its spark if they finally get together. After all, Kaling is from “The Office” school of storytelling, and knows how it can be good and bad (paging Jim and Pam) when the fan-favorite twosome gets married.
Although it’s wonderful on many levels that the show will continue, given that it’s one of the sharpest-written comedies on television, this truly felt like a series finale — and honestly, probably should have been. So here’s hoping Kaling and the writers have some solid idea about where to go from here, as her show faces some unique challenges that her beloved rom-coms never would.