Sure, Danny criticized Mindy’s professional and personal life. But over the course of the series, she was the delightful weirdo who slowly pulled him out of his cranky old-man shell. Everything Danny claimed to despise about Mindy, from her love of reality TV to her junk-food obsession, eventually made him fall in love. He even kept her (slightly) more grounded. At one point, it seemed like they would join the pantheon of beloved, if complicated, TV comedy couples. Let us never forget the Aaliyah dance:
Then it all went drastically awry. There’s no better proof than the Season 5 premiere of “The Mindy Project,” which started streaming on Hulu on Tuesday and showcased Danny as an actually terrible person. Although the show has been building up to this over the last year, it proved you really can destroy a once-great character in a single episode.
The problems with the couple started in the third season, when Danny didn’t want to get married after Mindy got pregnant (they eventually got engaged) but were exacerbated when Mindy had their baby. Danny pressured Mindy to quit working to raise their son, Leo, and inexplicably tried to trick her into getting pregnant again. When Mindy said she wasn’t ready for another baby and she wanted to focus on work, Danny became downright nasty. He accused her of being selfish for not wanting to stay home and raise kids. “You chose your job over us having a happy family,” he snapped. Another time, he guilted her by saying Leo was “out there by himself alone, playing pat-a-cake against a wall while his mom is working.” Mercifully for viewers, they finally split up in the Season 4 premiere.
Throughout it all, Danny never entertained the option that he could just stay home, so we wondered: Was “The Mindy Project” deliberately making Danny so awful to make a point about gender roles? Were the writers trying to compensate for Messina’s budding movie career and make viewers miss him less when he wasn’t around to film? Whatever the reason, he became intolerable, leading to blog posts like “Is It Maybe Time For ‘The Mindy Project’ To Kill Off Danny?” and “Let’s Call This Season’s ‘Mindy Project’ Storyline What It Really Is: Abuse” and “24 TV Boyfriends That Were Actually The Worst — I’m Looking At You Danny Castellano.”
In the Season 5 premiere, Danny doubled down on everything that viewers have grown to despise. In last season’s finale, Danny and Mindy slept together while they were trapped in an elevator, even though Danny was engaged to someone else — something he did not tell Mindy. In Tuesday’s episode, after Mindy finds out he’s getting married and confronts him, Danny decides that Mindy seduced him and he’s blameless.
“Look, it’s not my fault,” Danny protests. “You were acting all sweet, I was hopped up on that sugar candy, you were dressed like Madeline from those kids books. I couldn’t help it.”
While Mindy protests this, Danny smirks that either way, of course they were going to have sex if they were trapped on an elevator: “Our thing was never really deep conversations,” he reminds her. He reluctantly reveals that he’s engaged to a woman he met at work and has been dating for a few months.
Mindy is hurt by this. “I was seven months pregnant and you wouldn’t propose,” she reminds him.
“Then I really wanted to marry you, and you ruined my life,” he snaps, in quite the revisionist history of events.
Ruined his life? By wanting to (gasp!) continue working after she had kids? This isn’t addressed. Instead, Danny tells Mindy they should have sex again, because hey, he already cheated once, and he’ll come clean to his fiancée and call off the wedding. They make out, and then Mindy stops him before things go any further.
Later, they officially determine they aren’t getting back together, especially when Mindy asks if he’ll change his mind about anything that led to their break-up. “No,” Danny says bluntly. “I don’t want to change. I don’t need to change.” Ultimately, Danny decides he’s not going to confess to his new fiancée about cheating with Mindy, because he really wants to get married: “I need someone to take care of me and for whatever reason you don’t need that anymore,” he says. “But I do.”
Really, everything Danny said summarized the downfall of his character: He’s officially gone from a cantankerous oddball to a genuinely awful guy who thinks nothing of cheating on his fiancée and making exactly zero compromises with the mother of his son.
If “The Mindy Project” writers were trying to make viewers not miss the character given that Messina has been demoted to “recurring guest star,” mission accomplished — something tells us no one will care if they never see him again.