After the cliffhanger fourth season finale of The Mindy Project aired in July, fans eagerly eagerly awaited to find out which beau Mindy would choose. The first episode of season 5, appropriately titled “Decision 2016,” kept up the show’s new inclination toward breaking away from the stereotypical rom-com, while still including the usual amount of absurdity and hilarity. WARNING—SPOILERS AHEAD.
The episode begins right where season 4 left off: Mindy is caught in a love-triangle (“the sexiest shape!” according to Mindy) between Danny, the father of her child Leo, whom she just “reconnected” with in an elevator, and Jody, who just bought her an entire apartment and declared his love for her.
The initial excitement of having two men vie for her affection quickly wears off, however, when she sees Danny’s wedding invitation and realizes she has unknowingly become a mistress. Danny swears he’ll tell his fiancée what happened, right before kissing Mindy again.
Back at their practice, Mindy tries to keeps up the ruse that she spent the weekend in Miami, instead of with her ex. In an impressive display of sports knowledge, she confidently wears a Miami Dolphins jersey…purchased at New York Sports.
However, Tamra and Colette are on to her when Tamra receives a call from the principal of Leo’s, who apologizes for last season’s elevator mishap. The two meet to find out what really happened. Cue the realization that neither of them know Dr. L’s first name—well, we always knew Tamra didn’t know it.
Feeling guilty, Mindy turns to Jody for advice, where she admits, “I’ve spent so much of my life thinking that I was the protagonist in my own movie that I never stopped to think that I’m the villain in somebody else’s,” a genuinely insightful realization for someone with a Fifty Shades of Grey credit card. Tamra and Colette quickly break the news to the whole office about her hook-up with Danny, but surprisingly, Jody is actually kind of nice about it.
Mindy gets advice from an extremely unlikely source: Beverly, who, for the first time ever, actually says something that makes sense: she tells Mindy not to settle for either guy, and wait for the right man to come along, instead. She doesn’t feel a spark with Jody, and Danny is unwilling to change.
Though it was hard to accept that Mindy and Danny may not get the fairytale ending we seemed so close to just a season ago, Danny’s unwillingness to compromise is realistic and feels more true to his character. From the beginning of the show, he never promised to be the “nice guy,” and the show’s resistance from the “bad boy turned good” trope feels refreshingly honest.
In a classic scene, reminiscent of any classic rom-com, Mindy appears at first to go back on her decision when she runs through the pouring rain to Jody’s house. But as it turns out, she actually just wanted to tell Jody that instead of picking a man, she chose herself. And lest the show take itself too seriously, he promptly retorted that she had small boobs and threw candy at her.
The episode concludes with Mindy walking away from Jody’s apartment with a smile, as she realizes that unlike Danny, she doesn’t need someone else to take care of her.
Though it strayed from more traditional romantic television ideals, “Decision 2016” indicated that the season ahead of The Mindy Project will focus on Mindy finding herself instead of love, and assert that women don’t need men to complete them.