In its six seasons, the first three on Fox and the last three on Hulu, The Mindy Project became the rom-com by a rom-com lover for rom-com lovers that made a compelling case against its own genre: Life goes on after a supposed “happy ending.”
The series finale was predictable in the way one would expect a romantic comedy to be: The male and female leads reconcile just when it seems most futile. If you remember, Mindy and Danny (Chris Messina) broke up in season four after serious disagreements surrounding their relationship and son.
The Mindy Project spent six years building a will-they-or-won’t-they arc that seemed to stop at a “they won’t” dead end. But this show stars and was created by Mindy Kaling, a woman who lists You’ve Got Mail and The Princess Bride as two of her favorite movies, so of course this series’s Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have to end up together.
But the ending also hinted at serious flaws with the idea of a perfect romance.
Mindy launches into a monologue about people changing and the beauty of second chances. It’s inspirational, no doubt. In a burst of passion, she decides to leave Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) and Tamra’s (Xosha Roquemore) wedding with only a bicycle to get her where she needs to go, a nod to the rather familiar scene from The Mindy Project‘s pilot, in which Mindy gets too drunk at a wedding, steals a bike and ends up riding straight into a stranger’s backyard pool.
This time, there’s no intoxication and no accidental pool diving (character development!) but we’re nevertheless reminded of the romantic nature that the show has been preaching since day one.
But as Mindy and Danny finally reconcile — in the hospital lounge room where they spent countless hours watching TV and eating vending machine snacks together over the years, no less — Danny reminds her that he still won’t move to her apartment and still wants her to take his last name. Romantic, right?
This season was rushed: Only 10 episodes made it hard to wrap up loose ends and give every character the ending he or she deserves, though ultimately the short time frame made sense. Kaling tweeted Tuesday after the finale debuted that she was seven months pregnant while shooting the episode.
The Mindy Project was never the best show on television (or online). It was a 22-minute office comedy that had its fair share of filler episodes and a confusing amount of characters exiting and joining the show.
At the same time, it was uniquely, deeply funny and quietly wonderful. At its best, The Mindy Project was about celebrating others’ differences while simultaneously laughing with and at characters for being straight-up weirdos.
“Six years ago I created a show called #TheMindyProject and got to play the lead,” Kaling tweeted after Hulu uploaded the final episode. “Not the sassy friend or nagging wife. It completely changed my life.”
It wasn’t hard to assume that Mindy and Danny would get back together in the end. Why else would he and his mother (and her kind of racist best friend, Dot) return for a final season? But the cliche is made up for in the ultimate ambiguity.
This may be the end of what we see, but Mindy and Danny’s story, just like everyone else’s, goes on.