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'Mindy Project' postmortem: Will the big gesture be enough to win Mindy over?

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John P. Fleenor/Fox

Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Mindy Project season finale. 

Though The Mindy Project seemed to cap off its third season with yet another happy ending, executive producer and star Mindy Kaling cautions that Danny’s big gesture might not be enough to win her back. 

During the season finale, Mindy was forced to reveal that she hadn’t told her parents about Danny (Chris Messina) being the father of her unborn child yet. He, in turn, confessed that he doesn’t plan to marry her. However, after some encouragement from his mother (Rhea Perlman), Danny realized that despite his previous failed marriage and his own absentee father, given the right person, a marriage can be successful. So, he set off to profess his undying love for Mindy… to her parents in India. Will Mindy’s parents welcome him with open arms? And will Mindy do the same when he gets back? EW talked to Kaling to get the scoop on the potential fourth season: 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Because The Mindy Project has not yet been renewed, when you wrote the finale, did you consider giving Mindy some closure in case the show doesn’t come back? 

MINDY KALING: I didn’t, actually. I said this before, but I’m not the kind of person who can be creative under the assumption of failure, so I just wrote it with the hope that we would come back. I still have so many stories that I want to tell for the characters. 

Were there any particular romcoms that inspired you for this finale?

None, actually. This was not an homage to any particular romantic comedy, though, as you know, I do love the genre. 

Were you aiming to top the Empire State Building finale? 

I wasn’t aiming to top anything in particular, although I do think that the gesture was extremely romantic. Earlier in the episode, Danny can’t even make it to Boston, but the fact that he would travel halfway around the world seems like a great gesture. As you know, I also love big gestures. 

I have a feeling it’s probably not as easy as Danny showing up and saying he loves Mindy. Is it safe to assume he’ll be facing challenges with her parents? 

I certainly hope so. That’s been the most fun area to pitch on is what happens when we see whoever opens the door to receive Danny and what their reaction is. 

Do you have dream casting for who Mindy’s parents are?

I’ve been kicking around some actors and the writers have some favorites. But we haven’t even really broken what the characters will be like. That’s our season 4 fun of pre-production. Right now it’s a completely blank slate. 

Would it be more fun for you to have Mindy’s parents be the complete opposite of who she is?

I don’t know yet, actually. I can see them being very funny in lots of different ways. The one thing that Rhea Perlman did as Danny’s mother was she was such a strong personality that she gave a dimension to Chris’ character that was so useful for the show, and actually inspired us to write differently for Chris and for her. 

Is Danny’s big gesture enough to win Mindy over? 

I’m not sure. Gestures are romantic and they’re moving, but Mindy has matured so much as a character that even she, in the series, has said that gestures are not enough. What that fight was about was a real ideological difference between the two of them. Now that there are so many practicalities about her life, like she’s pregnant, she can’t be the hopeless romantic that she was before. In her very being, she believes in marriage still and he doesn’t. Yeah, I don’t think a giant gesture in and of itself could make them get back together, but I like the beginnings of this gesture anyway because it leads to more character growth. 

Do you think Danny and Mindy are meant to be?

Man, that’s a great question. I don’t know. Mindy Kaling is less of a romantic than the character of Mindy Lahiri is by a lot and much more realistic. I do think they’re two people who want to make things work, but I also know that they’re very flawed and their personalities are so different. I think that’s a good way to look at a series, because when I came into the series and Chris Messina played the part, there were so many assumptions I had about Danny’s character that completely changed because of the way I’d see Chris’ performance in cuts when I was in the editing bay. I think it’s good to leave yourself open to that kind of thing. Also, I hope the audience wants to tune in to see what they would be like as a couple long term. 

If the show is renewed, do you see the fourth season being about possible wedding planning?

Yeah, it’s crossed my mind. A lot of the fun of our show is subverting expectations, so a traditional wedding is so expected that I know we’d have fun with it. 

Now that you’re three seasons in, what’s been the most challenging part of running a show?

The most challenging part is that it’s impossible for one person to be 100 percent immersed in both the writers’ room and on set. They’re both definitely full time jobs. On set, there’s like 125 people, then in the writers’ room, there are 16 people, so having to go back and forth between and the two of them and switching the mindset as an actor and letting go of being control, that’s something that’s an ongoing challenge as a showrunner. 

Is there anything in particular that’s been a point of pride for you over the last three seasons?

The last act and a half of the finale I’m very proud of, because there are so many jokes. Ike Barinholtz is one of the funniest comedy actors out there in movies or on television. It’s so great that in 10 minutes of TV time, you have someone who is being so deeply funny with the rose and bringing the guys in—that monologue is so funny to me—but then we can go straight into a scene where Chris Messina is doing some of the most beautiful acting on any TV show, drama or comedy. I’m really proud of that. I’m proud that we’re a comedy show that isn’t afraid of ending a scene with a really heartbreaking moment. That’s when this show is at its very best, in my opinion, is when we can balance those things. 

Is there anything you would’ve done differently about the last three seasons?

Maybe because it’s a network show and because we have so many more episodes than cable shows, we get scrutinized a lot and by people that I respect and people I don’t respect. Paying attention too much to what people are saying, and listening to feedback from outside of my creative core people that I really trust, who talk about the way the stories are going or the cast is a huge time suck and ultimately didn’t end up changing or making the show better. If anything, it would just be to have ignored that more going into it because it ultimately wasn’t that helpful. And I would’ve put Ike Barinholtz in the pilot. That’s the biggest thing I would’ve done. I just love him so much and think he’s so funny. When you watch the pilot after you know the Morgan character, I feel like I love our pilot, but I do miss his presence. 

The show has also managed to reinvent itself with new characters over the years, so should we expect any new characters in the fourth season?

We’ll definitely see Mindy’s parents, which should be a huge source of comedy. Hopefully, if they do what Rhea has done to give another dimension to Chris’ character, that could be really great. I’m excited to act with them, whoever they are. 

You’ve snagged some great guest-stars over the years, including Laura Dern in the finale. 

If I can just take a second, Wild is one of my favorite movies. One of the things I like the most about it is if you’ve been a fan of Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon, they’re so funny in movies like Election or the show Enlightenment, so to see them in such serious roles was amazing. They’re two of my favorite actresses. I thought she was so baller in doing this completely broad comedy character. I was so happy she did it and was completely unafraid. I think a lot of comedy actors would have trouble with a part like that, where you have to learn an accent and just pop in one scene and just kill it and then leave, but she did such a great job. She really made me laugh in that scene. 

Do you have any dream guest-stars for the potential fourth season?

Speaking of Reese, I think Reese is so wonderful, super funny and also a huge movie star so I don’t think she would have the schedule to necessarily do that. But I think she’s interested, and I would love to find a role for her playing something completely different than she’s played. 

Do you think Danny and Mindy are meant to be? Hit the comments below with your thoughts on the finale. 

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