The Mindy Project returned last week, paying homage to a classic film. The season 5 spring premiere “Hot Mess Time Machine” paid tribute not to Hot Tub Time Machine, as the title might suggest, but to Groundhog Day. Mindy lives the same Wednesday over, and over and over, again.
Alternate reality episodes can often feel like a tired trope that writers pull to switch things up when the show is running out of plotlines, but The Mindy Project’s venture into a parallel universe is done with humor and good taste, much like the rest of the show.
The day Mindy is forced to repeat is a pretty crappy one— she has to deliver a baby to snarky parents, she runs into her most recent ex, Nurse Ben, and to top it all off, she has her period. Though it’s by no means the focus of the episode, the accurate representation of menstruation— Mindy is forced to wake up with cramps each morning to an always-empty box of tampons— is refreshing for such a taboo topic.
Mindy realizes her situation means she has the chance to do all the things she normally cannot do. So obviously, she uses the opportunity to beat Candy Crush and get really good at basketball. With the help of Morgan, she soon figures out that her purpose in living the same day over and over is to try to win back Ben.
At first, she isn’t so successful. Ben sees right through her crazy attempts to get him to grab coffee with her (which includes handcuffing the two of them together) and remains angry about her past behavior.
The episode takes a turn once Ben admits that he would have broken up with Mindy even if she hadn’t cheated on him, because she is self-centered. (Mindy? Self-centered? Never.)
Deciding to actually listen to Ben, Mindy learns much more about him and actively researches even the nerdiest of his interests. After weeks of this, she is disappointed to take up and see that she has finally made it to Thursday. But then, Ben shows up at her apartment and they kiss.
Will this be the start of a selfless Mindy Lahiri? It doesn’t seem very likely, but all is well for now (or at least until next week’s episode).