Sometime whilst I was in the Peace Corps, a couple of shows came out that I quickly fell in love with: Broad City and The Mindy Project.
Most people don’t think of this, but at least in Peace Corps Peru, TV and movies were a big deal, they were our connection to home and our zone-out (rather than freak out) tool. We showed love and made new volunteer friends by passing along all of our favorite media.
So during the passing off of our favorite shows at conferences, I championed my two favorite shows, not only giving people the episodes but insisting that we watch the first one together, to get them hooked.
Broad City remains one of my favorites today. Abbi and Ilana are my girls. But the Mindy Project…I don’t know.
After a pretty long hiatus from the show, I recently picked it up again and I’m not super impressed. I’ve watched almost two seasons in the last couple of weeks and found that witty humor and silliness have been replaced by confusingly low brow humor, moderately racist/sexist comments, and big themes that should be addressed but are more often ignored.
For a lot of people I’ve spoken to, the decline started when Danny and Mindy got together, but that was ok for me. Whatever they’re in love, it’s cute, we can do comedy and love.
For me it all started with the anal sex episode. The episode centers around a moment in the bedroom when Danny “accidentally slips” leaving Mindy angry and startled. Where this gets really dicey is when Danny explains that he was just “trying something.” Seriously? 2017, and we’re still playing this game where sex is not an act between consenting adults involving conversation and consent, but a scuffle where people decide to do whatever they want without warning.
As it turns out this episode was just one in many incidents showing the absolute bullsh** that is Danny and Mindy.
Danny incessantly complains about Mindy’s eating habits, cleaning habits, and personality traits which eventually started to get at me. That’s so unhealthy in a relationship. Do I expect that my boyfriend loves everything about me? Absolutely not. But I also don’t want him to constantly pick at every aspect of my life.
The big issue is that Danny can’t compromise despite the fact that he believes he’s always compromising.
He expects Mindy to stay home with their son when he’s born and when she expresses discontent he shames her for not being a good mother. When she eventually returns to work (and starts her own business on the side), something he should be proud of her for, he shames her further and accuses her of threatening his vision for the future where they have many children. A future he did not consult her on.
Again, it’s 2017.
It seems every time Mindy finds happiness in her work life, Danny drags her down. There is no lack of love for her son here as she continuously shows how much she loves spending time with him, but because she working (something Danny is doing too), she’s a monster.
How are we still thinking like this and pushing these ideas into popular media today? How? In a world where this actually happens to so many women, can we put it on the small screen so unapologetically?
Sure, Danny and Mindy eventually break up which at least shows Mindy opting for her own happiness. Thank god for that. But the real issue is never addressed. She never says “hey I don’t have to stay home because I’m the mom, you staying home isn’t heroic babysitting, I’m going to work, stop mommy shaming me.” So we’re left to believe that they just wanted different things, rather than seeing that when Danny wants is sexist and damaging.
I’ve written before that I’m scared to have kids one day because I am so career driven, that I fear I wouldn’t have the time to be a truly good mother. And it’s no wonder that this is a sentiment heard from many women and very few men.
What we need is for media to reflect a life where women and men can stay home or go to work or do a little of both. We need to normalize that life because while art reflects life, life also reflects art. With the number of young people watching these shows we’ve got to give them something better.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show, feminism, working parents, etc. Even if you disagree with me, hell, especially if you disagree with me. Let me know your thoughts.
Best of luck.