Mindy Kaling is a creative genius, and that’s not up for debate!. I’m a superfan who would sell all my clothes to see Kaling’s latest film or binge her newest show. However, even our favourite people make the occasional mistake.There was one time Kaling’s work let me down, and that’s the relationship between Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), the one real flaw on The Mindy Project, an otherwise excellent show.
The Mindy Project is a delightful sitcom that premiered 2012. It chronicles the hijinks of a group of obstetricians working – and dating – in New York City. Kaling shines as Lahiri, a thirty-something doctor who’s looking to settle down, but doesn’t want to settle. But as smart, fun and fashionable – those outfits are fire! – as Mindy is, the show never finds a suitor who is worthy of her. Case in point: the man she ends up with is a curmudgeon who body shames Mindy, abandons her, and, at one point, sexually assaults her.
I will now present a catalogue of all the ways Danny wasn’t good enough for Mindy, AKA The Queen of My Heart.
Danny Is a Douche, Who Body Shames Mindy
On The Mindy Project’s pilot episode, Dr. Lahiri is showing her female colleagues a special “date night”outfit when Danny happens upon them. While Mindy’s other co-workers express admiration for the ensemble, Danny insists it’s subpar. He snarls, “You know what would be really hot? If you lost fifteen pounds…” It’s a disgusting example of fat shaming. What halfway decent person publicly berates a colleague for their weight? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Because, the answer is obviously that only the most diabolical people would do such a thing!.
The Belligerent Sexual Tension Trope Is Problematic
Belligerant Sexual Tension is a trope as old as Shakespeare’s comedies, which rely heavily on this device (Much Ado About Nothing, anyone?). The trope unfolds something like this: After a prolonged period of arguments and surly (but sexy) disagreements, a pair of opposites who are at odds with one another suddenly realize they’re in love, and always have been. They were just hiding their ardor with hostility the whole time!
Mindy and Danny are a textbook example of belligerent sexual tension; In Season One, Danny derides Mindy’s appearance and claims he cares as little about her as he does for an ugly lamp in the corner of their office. While Mindy isn’t quite as vicious, she does mock Danny’s affinity for television shows about fishing and books a gynecological exam with Danny just so she can troll him. It’s clear these characters don’t see eye to eye, and yet, we’re meant to believe their friction isn’t hatred, but secret sexual tension.
It’s now 2021, and the idea that boys who are mean to you are actually just in love with you died with Me Too.
When people are mean to each other, they should not end up together. End of story! Find someone who respects and admires you instead! Can we please stop normalizing toxic relationships on TV?
Danny Is A Sexual Assailant
By Season Three, Mindy and Danny are officially courting. But there’s considerable trouble in paradise! In one memorable episode, Danny attempts to have anal sex with Mindy without her consent (i.e. rape her). When Mindy confronts him about the unauthorized sexual contact, he feebly insists, “I slipped.” Danny later comes clean that the attempt at penetration was intentional, but he never admits his actions were wrong. And yet, the couple still end up together on the series finale.
While I worship at the altar of Ms. Kaling, I’m still uncomfortable with a “One True Pairing” that normalizes intimate partner violence. Danny Castellano isn’t a swoon worthy leading man; he’s a straight up villain and Kaling’s fictional alter ego deserved so.much.better.