Review: 'The Mindy Project' - 'Frat Party': Keep her off the pole!

Casey has big news, Mindy hangs out with college kids, and Bill Hader returns

<p>Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader in &quot;The Mindy Project.&quot;</p>

Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader in "The Mindy Project."

Credit: FOX

A review of last night's "The Mindy Project" coming up just as soon as I live in a furnished apartment right across the street from the Holocaust Museum...

"Frat Party" returned to a creatively fruitful area for the show: Mindy interacting with younger people. "Teen Patient" was one of the show's best early episodes, and the dynamic worked nearly as well when we moved from high school to college. (There was even a nod to the earlier episode's running gag about Slime by having Katie explain that one of the hot new campus drugs is called Mucus.)

The episode was also kind of the inverse of last week's "Triathlon." It was much more focused in its storytelling — even combining the A-story and B-story near the end by having the guys bring Morgan to the frat party — but probably wasn't as funny overall.

The opening scene with Mindy and Casey in the shower was another amusing example (like Josh wearing Mindy's shirt earlier in the season) of the show pointing out the mundane realities of romantic movie cliches, and the frat party offered some fine physical comedy with Mindy on the pole and then Tom(*) and Casey's ridiculous brawl. (Casey twirling his flip-flops like nunchucks was my favorite.) 

(*) Nice to have Bill Hader return for some closure on that relationship, and also as a mark of how much Mindy's changed from the character in the pilot.

I was briefly worried that the writers were trying to throw Casey under the bus so we wouldn't be disappointed when Anders Holm had to go back to "Workaholics," but the apology scene at the end, with him speculating about a pregnant Mindy ("You're going to be like Donkey Kong!"), was charming. That he's going to be away for a year, at a time in Mindy's life where she can't necessarily wait a year, gives the show the necessary wiggle room to have them break up without either party looking bad, but I'd be curious to see if they try to make the long-distance thing work for a while, the way "30 Rock" did for a stretch with Liz and Carol. What does this show become if you temporarily take the romance component out of it?

Still waiting for one that's both coherent and funny all the way through, but these last two have both suggested the show's getting close to finding the right balance of things. One more to go, and then Kaling, Warburton and company can spend the off-season fine-tuning. The raw material's definitely there for a season 2 leap (like the show that airs right before "Mindy").

What did everybody else think?

Alan-sepinwall-sm
Alan Sepinwall
Sr. Editor, What's Alan Watching
Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "The Revolution Was Televised," about the last 15 years of TV drama, is for sale at Amazon. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com
Around the Web