Every week, the cast and crew of Hulu’s beloved rom-com, The Mindy Project, are taking EW readers behind the scenes of each episode. This week, writer Guy Branum takes us through the sixth episode of season five, “Concord.”
When the writers started breaking stories for season five, one of the big events we know we had coming up was Danny’s marriage to a woman exquisitely named Sarah Branum. Mindy K. toyed with several approaches, but finally landed on the idea that Mindy L. would just avoid the wedding, and in the process, go back home and get some context for her relationship with Danny.
The episode starts with Dr. Reed informing everyone that they’re getting a half-day on Friday to go to Danny’s wedding festivities (presumably in the deepest, darkest parts of Staten Island). Everyone pours pity on Mindy because she’s the only one who’s not going. Morgan is, of course, bitter that Leo was chosen to be ring bearer instead of him.
We then see Leo in his full, adorable ring bearer regalia. While people go into writing for a number of reasons, one of the biggest is the opportunity to tell your costume designer, “We’re going to need a tiny tuxedo.” Mindy and Ben try to teach Leo to carry the ring, and Ben offers to stay with Mindy over the weekend. Mindy assures him that she’s looking forward to the time by herself.
But when she’s actually faced with a weekend alone, Mindy starts going crazy, hearing Danny’s voice taunting her from all of his photos left in the house. She freaks out, hops in her car, and attempts to road-Karaoke the pain away. I deeply connected with this sequence on an emotional level.
One Les Miserables soundtrack later (you’ll notice she sings three songs — that’s because Les Mis songs are not cheap and we couldn’t afford a fourth), Mindy finds herself far from home… at her parents’ home.
This is when I reveal my deep, dark Mindy Project secret. While I was sad to be writing an episode where we don’t see much of the astoundingly funny ensemble on the show, I was thrilled to be writing for my favorite character: Sonu Lahiri. Mindy’s mom (played by Sakina Jaffrey) is the best — a frustrated diva burdened with the painfully unglamorous problems of an immigrant mom. Basically, she’s a gay man trapped in the body of a Bengali woman; luckily, both gay men and Bengali women are stylish as hell. Sakina Jaffrey is an astoundingly great dramatic actress who comes from a family of British film royalty, but who’s willing to be so goofy and funny for this character. Oh, and Utkarsh Ambudkar (who plays Mindy’s brother, Rishi) is great, too, but he beat me in a comedy rap battle once, so I love Sakina more.
Mindy inadvertently returns home to be cared for by her mom, but unfortunately, her mom has other stuff going on. Mindy and Rishi (who’s on sabbatical from DJ school) investigate why she is not doing her assigned job of waiting on their every desire. After a search through her email (we had to cut jokes about how your parents’ computer is always a tower from 2003 that’s exceedingly hot), they discover Sonu is meeting a director for dinner at Concord’s most romantic restaurant.
As Mindy and Rishi are getting ready to go to the restaurant, Mindy gets a call from Morgan. He says that Danny got drunk and admitted he might call off the wedding for her.
Mindy’s torn — she wants to find out if Danny’s still in love with her, but she also needs to discover if her mom is cheating on her dad. She and Rishi head to Bertinelli’s (the place you go before prom). There, they find their mom flirting with a creepy old man. A confrontation ensues and their mom’s director, Conrad, storms off.
Sonu is pissed. She curses her children. This is why she’s so much fun to write! This is a woman who wants to turn any moment into a grand drama. This is, after all, the thirsty attention seeker who taught Mindy Lahiri everything she knows.
Mindy sees how hurt Sonu is, so instead of going to Danny’s wedding, she goes to Conrad’s sad basement apartment to try to fix things for her mom. Conrad says he’ll forgive everything, if Mindy shows him a good time on his futon. Mindy storms out and returns home. She goes back to her parents’ house and tells her mom she deserves better, but when Danny’s photos start talking again, Mindy gets back in the car and goes to the wedding.
Luckily, Mindy gets a call from Ben, who reminds her she’s considering giving up a great, supportive guy for Danny, a man who she loves, but who’s proved unwilling to support her career. Mindy turns the car around and goes to the person who really needs her: Sonu.
While Sonu makes Mindy and Rishi their favorite meal — mac and cheese with cut-up hotdogs — Sonu explains that the voices coming from the photos weren’t Danny, they were Mindy. Mindy has always been critical of herself, and for a long time, she let Danny take over the role of the critical voice in her life. Now that he’s gone, she’s hungering for someone to tell her she’s not good enough. Mindy is in awe of this insight, and realizes how often she’s ignored her mom’s own professional struggles. Mindy advises Sonu to do what she did — make her own career opportunities by writing a one woman show.
And as we end the episode, we see two kids staring lovingly at the woman who raised them, and who is, if nowhere else, a star in her own living room.
New episodes of The Mindy Project stream Tuesdays on Hulu.