As a result, the show has to frequently make a big splash — sure enough, the writers decided to blow everything up in the first episode back from a four-month hiatus. However, conventional thinking is that you have to do this without alienating your core fanbase that has been with the show since the beginning… which makes it curious that the writers demolished the show's most beloved storyline and broke up the main couple, Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and Danny (Chris Messina). Is this a wise move?
TV shows break up main couples all the time, but this feels like an especially bold twist and potentially unpopular choice, given that their path to a relationship has been integral to the show's DNA. They met in Season 1, first as workplace nemeses and then became friends. They finally hooked up in the middle of Season 2 and officially became a couple in the finale. In Season 3, Mindy got pregnant — and in the beginning of Season 4, she had the baby and Danny proposed.
Then, suddenly, they started fighting when Danny pressured Mindy to give up her career and stay at home with their newborn son, Leo. Things looked bleak in the last episode before the hiatus: Mindy took down the "for sale" sign at her old apartment and sat on the floor, sobbing.
In Tuesday's episode, the show swiftly splits them up through a four-minute montage that shows the sequence of events over many months. They postpone the wedding; go to couple's therapy; Danny fails to show up for couple's therapy; Mindy returns the engagement ring; Mindy moves out with baby Leo; they cancel the wedding; and Danny quits the OB/GYN practice where they both work. Eventually, Mindy swears they're a perfectly healthy, separated co-parenting team: "Danny and I are having a modern uncoupling like Coldplay and Goop," she explains to her co-workers.
"The Mindy Project" writers pride themselves on creating an unconventional romantic comedy and going at their own pace, such as having Mindy and Danny fell in love so early instead of a "will they, won't they" story dragging on for years. Yet considering Mindy and Danny have been together for such a long time at this point (in TV years, anyway), it's especially risky to tear them apart and essentially restart the show from its original premise — Mindy trying to balance work and find love.
It's safe to say some fans won't enjoy seeing the couple broken up, particularly on a comedy, where the status quo usually remains the same. You don't necessarily expect to see your favorite characters in the midst of a prolonged serious crisis, with Danny — who we swear used to be a nice guy — snapping at Mindy with lines like, "Remember, you chose your job over us having a happy family."
While it's always tempting for writers to reboot a show in such a dramatic way, it will be interesting to see if the old rules of TV viewing apply to the new age of "peak TV." In years past, viewers would just suffer through the episodes where they were apart, hoping the old dynamic would return. These days? There's a lot of competition out there. If you don't enjoy seeing Mindy and Danny bickering, you can easily switch to one of the many, many online comedy options on other platforms. And with all of the online providers competing for your business, it's easy to lose track of the shows that are no longer at the top of your list.
Obviously, that's not to say that writers should stop taking chances. But suddenly tearing apart the main relationship could seem like a bait and switch to viewers (even if Messina may not be available because of his burgeoning movie career) and make them a little less likely to click "next episode."