I don’t consider myself a sucker for the saccharine, which is why one of my favorite television couples of all time was The Mindy Project‘s own Mindy and Danny. Mindy and Danny weren’t exactly Allie and Noah from The Notebook — they were more like Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling on the set of The Notebook, where bickering abounded. Unfortunately, this couple’s cute bickering gave way to legit fighting over real things. Danny hated that Mindy didn’t want to have more kids or leave her job, and Mindy decided to pick her new fertility clinic over full-time motherhood. In a heartbreaking midseason premiere, it was revealed that Danny and Mindy are officially over. And as much as I appreciate Mindy standing her ground, I hate the fact that these two aren’t together.
For the record, I’m a feminist, and in no way do I believe that a TV show has to end with the female character finally getting hitched, or even finding love. However, The Mindy Project set itself up as a romantic comedy from the very beginning, and in doing so, gave me two characters that I rooted for. I wanted Mindy and Danny to get together from day one, not because it was “supposed” to be this way, but because these two had fiery chemistry and seemed to genuinely care about each other. In fact, unlike many shows where the fire dies out once the leads finally get together, this series had the most fun when Mindy and Danny were navigating their new relationship. (Awkward dinners with Danny’s mom and her BFF Dot? Far less funny without momma’s boy Danny.) It’s a shame that these two won’t get to explore the weirdness of their relationship anymore, and without Danny and Mindy, this show is missing one of the things that made it so special.
In the real world, Mindy and Danny aren’t together because the actor who plays Danny, Chris Messina, is working on Live by Night, a new movie with Ben Affleck. However, it seems to be a change to the show that creator Mindy Kaling is totally on board with. She told Glamour that Mindy and Danny’s breakup was realistic, and that their “very different personalities” would inevitably cause them to clash. Maybe that’s true, but that’s not the Mindy and Danny that the show set up for four seasons. In breaking up Danny and Mindy, the series essentially destroyed any progress that Danny made over the years. While Mindy may have grown in the sense that she’s standing up for what she wants, Danny has seriously regressed — and that’s a huge disservice to the character we’ve come to know and love.
In the beginning of The Mindy Project, Danny was a hardened jerk who was still reeling from his divorce. He didn’t think that he could commit to anyone long-term ever again. Then, he realized that he could, and that this person was his co-worker Mindy, who somehow became his closest friend despite their different personalities. Though their relationship was far from perfect, Mindy taught Danny how to trust and love again. This was the man who boarded a plane to India to tell Mindy’s parents he loved her, despite his reservations about marriage. Mindy miraculously turned Danny into a wannabe family man, something Mindy always wanted.
Ultimately, that was this couple’s downfall. Instead of enjoying his independent Mindy and his new baby, Danny did a complete 180. How did Danny go from commitmentphobe to a controlling, sexist jerk? It certainly wasn’t the original path the show would have taken had Messina been able to stay on the series.
Despite what Kaling says of the split, Danny and Mindy’s breakup didn’t happen organically, nor do I think that it would have happened had Messina stuck around the show for the entirety of Season 4. Had Messina been able to appear on The Mindy Project, I have no doubt that Mindy and Danny would have worked through their issues. Danny supported Mindy’s career before, and would have realized — perhaps when his baby fever broke — that he was being an unfair jerk about his wife’s budding career. I’m hanging on to hope that somehow, Danny will walk into Mindy’s fertility clinic and profess that he had a tumor that gave him an entirely different personality.
When that happens, Mindy and Danny will get back together, and all will be right with the world again. Unless that happens, I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with The Mindy Project.