A review of Lahiri Family Values
The Mindy Project is still pondering the concept of family and what it means. This time, the focus is shifted to Mindy’s (Mindy Kaling) kinfolk. We learn quite a lot about them.
Before we go ahead, shout out to Danny (Chris Messina) for trying to whisk a pregnant Mindy downtown for what he calls a ‘shame wedding’. Ever the true Catholic, he explains: “We say the baby was conceived today. Seven months from now, we’ll be like, ‘Oh wow, we had an eleven-pound baby.’ Boom, we’re good with God! Let’s go.” Awesome teaser.
The episode itself starts with Mindy and Danny having one of those moments we usually see just before the credits. Danny is bonding with his baby already, whispering Castellano nuggets of wisdom to Mindy’s stomach: “Hold on a second, I just want to go over the state capitals with him one more time.” To which Mindy responds: “No, do not make him a nerd!”
Danny is very sure he’s having a son: “I can hear his penis. Oh yeah, it’s big.”
It’s all so cosy and domesticated. So much so, that when Danny watches Mindy pack for her flight, he has an epiphany: he’s going to join her in San Francisco. She’s ecstatic, of course, and returns to California on cloud nine.
When we next see Mindy, she’s at a bank with Rob (Tate Ellington), getting a business loan, and she’s all smiles. When the loan is turned down, she realises she has to hunt down her little brother, Rishi (Utkarsh Ambudkar ), with whom she co-signed on an apartment. And – get this – he lives in San Francisco.
Lahiri Family Value #1: You can be living in the same city and still not see each other, even though one of you has arrived from a thousand miles away and you haven’t met up for more than a year.
I was amazed when Danny revealed that Rishi lives in San Fran as well. All this time?
Anyway, Rishi finally opens his door, which is decorated with eviction notices, after Mindy yells at him from outside his apartment. He’s been holed up in there, hiding from his landlord.
After a hug, Mindy beats Rishi over the head with that magnificent Chanel purse of hers, for not paying his rent and ruining her credit. He explains that being a rapper can stunt your cash flow. He’s excited, though, when he finds out he’s going to be an uncle, and asks if Mindy has told their parents.
She replies: “Have I told Mom and Dad that I am unmarried and pregnant with a white man’s baby? No, there is a world in which I never tell them.”
Lahiri Family Value #2: Being unmarried and pregnant with a white man’s baby is totally unacceptable. You can introduce your children to your parents after you’re married. Don’t know what you can do about your white hubby though – I guess that’s up to the universe.
Mindy is pretty concerned about Rishi’s financial problems. She asks Rob to hire him as a med tech at their clinic. Rishi completely aces his interview by rushing out, mid-sentence, to meet a “client”, who, as Rob points out to a horrified Mindy, is there to buy drugs.
It’s interesting to see Mindy go full ham on her little brother. She looks really adorable in Mommy mode – the instincts have kicked in already. She doesn’t mince her words as she lets Rishi know how disgusted she is with his choices, and announces that she’s reporting this to their parents. Rishi calmly threatens to tell them all about the baby.
Lahiri Family Value #3: Being unmarried and pregnant with a white man’s baby is worse than being a drug dealer.
Rishi’s reaction makes Mindy back off immediately. She does, however, take him to his boss, Big Murder (John Cho), to turn in his resignation.
Lahiri Family Value #4: In spite of their differences and foibles, the Lahiris will do anything for each other, including running off to the hood to organise a face-off with a drug lord.
Big Murder is not the scary, gun-toting, thug we envision. He’s a suave, handsome, dashingly garbed businessman in an office. Mindy is completely thrown off guard – I was too.
She also discovers that Rishi is not really into selling drugs; he’s just looking for some form of validation, which he gets from Big Murder. This revelation, of course, only reinforces Mindy’s conviction that Rishi is a good kid, and that she and Rob absolutely have to hire him. Rob doesn’t agree, which makes Mindy realise that she doesn’t want to start a clinic with him. She belongs with her other family at Schulman and Associates in New York.
I must say, the swiftness of this decision left me slightly dizzy. I wasn’t completely sold on the idea that Mindy’s dream, which has coloured so many of her decisions, even major ones, was dropped so quickly.
We see her packing her things, bemoaning her status as another ‘pregnant teen drop-out’. She feels like a failure. Rob was the one chance she had to open her own practice. Then Rishi provides some validation of his own. He points out that Mindy doesn’t need white man Rob – another not-so-subtle reference to our Caucasian brothers – to fulfil her dream, telling her: “In terms of entitlement and personality, you’re the whitest man I know.” It’s so funny to see Mindy literally glow after that compliment.
Meanwhile in New York…
Danny, in preparation for San Fran and fatherhood, meets with his accountant to put his affairs in order. Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) finds an excuse to eavesdrop, after he’s intrigued by Danny’s fascination with a photo of a papa and baby penguin. When he hears Danny instructing the accountant to ensure Mindy is well taken care of, he jumps to the worst possible conclusion – Dr. C is dying – and runs off to announce this to Jeremy (Ed Meeks), Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) and Beverly (Beth Grant).
They don’t believe him at first, but Danny invites Jeremy to his place, to gently break the news of his departure. They end up discussing two totally different kinds of departure. Danny, apologetic, talks about leaving the practice; Jeremy hears that Danny is dying. When he confirms Morgan’s fears the next day, Danny’s horrified co-workers get together to organise a “going away” thing – I really don’t know what to call it – for him. It is beautiful though, complete with blown-up photos of Danny, refreshments, and a song by Morgan and Tamra. The strong theme of family surfaces here again, confirming Mindy’s thoughts: Schulman and Associates is indeed a family.
Danny does the great reveal and tells them he’s not dying, he’s moving to San Francisco and, despite having sworn Mindy to secrecy earlier, he blurts out the news about the pregnancy. As can happen only at Shulman and Associates, the mood shifts from utter grief over Danny’s impending death, to indignation when he’s not dying after all, to anger that he’s leaving, and finally to joy that Mindy is pregnant – all in the space of less than three minutes.
I’d like to say that Mindy’s ex, Cliff (Glenn Howerton), deserves an honourable mention in this episode. I was wondering why he showed up at all, until we saw the slick way he was used to tie up a few loose ends and start a new storyline. We also learn more about his departure from the building and, at the end, Mindy declares that she wants his office space.
Yep, she will open that practice after all. It will also be near her New York family, and Danny won’t have to move. It’s a win-win-win situation all round.
Danny deserves mad props for his dedication this episode. I’m still shocked he was going to just up and move to San Fran and leave his beloved New York and his mum. He proved he’s very serious about his new family.
So there you have it. We’ve learned a lot about the Castellanos and the Lahiris. I wonder what’s next?
- A glimpse at the kind of parents Danny and Mindy will be.
- Mindy's decision to drop out of Sanford and abandon the plan for the practice with Rob was a little too abrupt.