(This post contains spoilers about “The Mindy Project” series finale.)
The pilot episode of “The Mindy Project,” which aired in 2012, quickly established Mindy Lahiri (played by creator Mindy Kaling) and her love of romantic comedies. The audience learned that Mindy grew up on a steady stream of films such as “When Harry Met Sally” and “You’ve Got Mail,” which set some unrealistic expectations for her own love life.
Still, it should come as no surprise that the series finale of “The Mindy Project,” which started streaming on Hulu on Monday night, ended in typical rom-com fashion:
1) The main character has a lightbulb moment when a complicated question about a soul mate becomes crystal clear.
The past six seasons (on Fox and then Hulu) centered around Mindy and Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) as the will-they-won’t-they-couple. Both brilliant doctors and self-centered weirdos, they went from workplace enemies to begrudging friends to boyfriend-girlfriend, with plenty of bickering along the way.
Though they were polar opposites, they fell in love. They got engaged after Mindy got pregnant. Once the baby was born, however, Danny had a personality transplant in the third season and became terrible, as he pressured Mindy to be a stay-at-home mom and was furious when she wanted to open her own fertility clinic. “You chose your job over us having a happy family,” he told her. Mercifully, they broke up in the fourth-season premiere.
Danny showed up as a guest star occasionally, and in the sixth season, he appeared again after his mother, Annette (Rhea Perlman), was diagnosed with breast cancer. As Danny watched Mindy take care of Annette, he realized he might have made a mistake in leaving her. In the series finale, he even came to the stunning realization that owning a fertility clinic did not get in the way of Mindy’s parental responsibilities. When he discovered that the clinic was on the brink of closing, he decided to invest in the company.
“You’ve helped so many people, and it hasn’t affected you as a mom,” Danny said. “I didn’t see it back then, but I was wrong.”
While Mindy was reeling from this unexpected generosity, she was forced to give a toast at a wedding. The bride and groom were also strange opposites but over time came to the conclusion that they were soul mates.
“What I didn’t realize is how much people can change and how much we can help each other change,” Mindy said during her speech. “Maybe they weren’t right for each other then, but somehow they are now. And that’s the funny thing about people changing. It happens so slowly, you know? You don’t realize a person’s changed until you look at them and they’re not the person you thought they were.”
Suddenly, she had an epiphany and looked down at a bracelet that Danny once gave her. It said “correre,” or “run” in Italian. Mindy took it literally and ran out of the wedding reception.
2) A dramatic romantic gesture.
Mindy sprinted to the hospital, where Danny was with his mother, recovering from her mastectomy. While Annette could tell exactly why Mindy was so sweaty and unkempt and left the wedding early (she wanted to tell Danny she was in love with him!), Danny was oblivious. Mindy left the room, dejected. His mother reminded him that he was an idiot. “I can’t believe this, I raised you to be more perceptive than you’re being!” Annette said.
3) A kiss and happily ever after.
Danny frantically searched for Mindy, and finally found her with her arm stuck in the vending machine in the doctor’s lounge. After Danny helped her successfully retrieve candy, he asked, “It was brought to my attention that you might be here to tell me something?”
“Oh no, I said what I needed to say,” Mindy said breezily. “I wanted to check in on your mom, get some sour straws and head home . . . wait, what did you think I was going to say?”
“I don’t know. This is dumb,” Danny said. He paused. “But I thought maybe you’d say that — you love me again? And that you want to try to make things work?”
Another pause. “And if I had said that,” Mindy responded, “What would you have said?”
“I would have said that I’d like that,” Danny said immediately.
“But I didn’t say that,” Mindy pointed out.
“Well I really misjudged this,” Danny said, turning to leave. “Sorry. Have a great night.”
“I wasn’t going to say that I loved you again,” Mindy said. Danny turned around. “I was going to say that I never stopped loving you,” she said. “And I don’t think I ever will.”
Then, Danny pulled her into a long, passionate kiss. Cue the romantic music! After some banter about whether she would move to Tribeca with him (he hates the West Village because there’s too many cupcake shops) and change her last name, Mindy shut him up: “Can we just watch TV? We have the rest of our lives to argue.”
The show closed as the two of them cuddled on a couch — while clearly not perfect, an ending very much fit for a rom-com.