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 Lang Fisher takes us through the 12th episode of season 5, “Mindy Lahiri is a White Man.”
Hello there, Mindy fans! My name is Lang Fisher and I have been a writer on The Mindy Project since season 2. I like long walks on the beach and cocktails with way too many ingredients. Now that you know me, let me tell you that it is a real privilege to recap episode 512, otherwise known as “Mindy Lahiri Is a White Man.” This episode is among my favorites we’ve ever done, not to mention one of the most fun to shoot thanks to the talented and adorable Ryan Hansen (couldn’t we all just drown in those baby blues?). So let the recap commence:
The episode begins with Morgan, dressed in an oversized gravy brown sportcoat, quizzing Mindy for an upcoming job interview. Mindy wants to be the next head of obstetrics at the hospital, a position previously held by Dr. Jean Fishman, played by the fabulous Niecy Nash. Jody, who also is up for the job, enters the scene like a puffed up rooster, claiming that he doesn’t need to practice for the interview because he just “looks like a leader” and that he has a very paintable face, “perfect for boardroom portraits.” Mindy is not intimidated, however, because not only do more leaders these days look like her, but also Jody ain’t got no vagina and dis is gynecology, y’all.
We jump to the hospital, where Mindy awaits her interview. In the waiting room, Mindy is approached by another candidate, Dr. Irene Lee, who is a bit of a dowdy dorkster. She tells Mindy that she’s as nervous for this interview as she was for her med school class’ evening of sketch comedy, where she sweated through her Austin Powers costume. Mindy self-consciously tells Irene that she doesn’t think they should be chit-chatting because they’re the only two minority women there and she doesn’t want anyone to think they are an Asian clique. Just then, Jody emerges, cocky as ever, from his interview. He’s nailed it. Everyone else should just pack their bags and go home.
In the interview, Mindy is confident and charming. She deftly answers questions like how she will balance being a single mother with the extra responsibility of this position — “I don’t exercise so that’s an extra 10 minutes a day that goes just towards work.” It seems to be going well, except that there are a few questions that arise that might not be asked of Mindy’s male counterparts, like whether she can be an effective leader and keep her emotions at bay. But all in all, Mindy feels like she’s crushed it. That is, until Jody calls her later that evening to see when her final interview is scheduled. Mindy checks her email and sadly discovers that no final interview is coming. She has been cut.
Mindy goes to bed, frustrated. She’s more qualified than Jody, but white men get to do everything from hosting late night talk shows to writing their names in the snow with their pee. Mindy sadly says to herself, “I wish I was a white man.”
Cut to the next morning, when guess what? Mindy gets her wish. And she’s not just any white man, she’s the whitest white man of all time. She looks like Rolf from The Sound of Music. Although she’s circumcised, which Rolf probably wasn’t. In this reality, her name is Michael Lancaster and she’s a divorced baby daddy with an apartment not unlike Danny’s. Her first order of business is to check out the “equipment,” and after a couple of hours, she comes to the conclusion that it is definitely better for women, but that the finish for men has a certain “wow factor.”
At work, people laugh at her jokes, they listen to her when she makes an announcement, and she is apparently trying to put on weight. Being a white man rules! Not only that, as Michael, she got a second-round interview. As the interview begins, there’s a familiarity and jocularity between the board and Michael. In stark contrast to Mindy’s interview, Michael is not asked at all about his qualifications or experience or ability to balance his personal and professional life. He’s told that they can tell he’s a great leader just by looking at him. One board member even remarks that he’d follow “that jawline off a cliff.” And just when Mindy thinks her day couldn’t get any better, Jody and Jeremy invite her out for a lad’s night. She’s never been included in anything before without having to invite herself.
Going out with the boys gets a little out of control. As a highly sexual character, Mindy Lahiri wanted to experiment with women in college, but could convince none of her friends to go along with it, so finally she is getting that chance with a hot woman from the bar. Unfortunately, this wild night leads her to oversleep and miss her C-section the next morning. Lucky for her, though, Dr. Irene Lee stepped in and did an amazing job. Mindy realizes that she totally underestimated Irene and can’t believe Irene isn’t up for the department head job. Adding insult to injury, deranged, old Dr. Ledreau got a second round interview. Michael confides to Tamra that she is not a white man, but a woman of color trapped in the body of a Caucasian male, and asks Tamra to help get Irene back in front of the board.
Tamra and Michael find Irene in the cafeteria eating an overstuffed sloppy joe and convince her to fight for the department head job. But like many women, Irene doesn’t want to seem pushy and demanding. Tamra and Michael cut to the chase — Irene can’t just be invisible. They give Irene a makeover, teach her to use her sex appeal, work on her interview techniques, and last but not least, get her to use the race card to compel the board to give her a second round interview. Sadly, even after meeting with Irene again, the board does not choose her to run the department.
This infuriates Michael and he storms into the boardroom. Just a side note, this scene was a delight to film because Ryan Hansen really took to many of Mindy’s mannerisms, including her use of finger-wagging and the phrase, “How dare you.” The board says that they already had a woman of color who was even a lesbian (a fact they don’t get enough credit for) for their last department head. It’s clear that they are set on a white man and if it’s not Michael, then it will be Dr. Ledreau, even though he may or may not have killed his wife.
Michael returns home downtrodden and reflects that there are a million great things about being a white man and those are just things you can do with your penis, but he misses being interesting and different. So right before going to sleep, Michael says that he wishes he were an Indian woman again. And the next morning, Mindy is back to normal in her splashy, magenta pajamas. But now she has a new appreciation for being different. So, she heads over to the hospital and finds Irene and apologizes for being dismissive the other day. Now they can be friends and eat fettuccini alfredo and to hell with any old honky who thinks they are an Asian clique. Hooray! Thank you for reading this and please keep watching The Mindy Project. We’ve got loads in store for you!
New episodes of The Mindy Project stream Tuesdays on Hulu.