First on the show’s agenda is tackling the love triangle — what Mindy refers to as “the sexiest of shapes” — that ended with a cliffhanger last season. Mindy (Mindy Kaling) had just had a hot hookup with her ex, Danny (Chris Messina), while getting stuck in an elevator. Despite their obvious chemistry and history, he’s hidden the fact that he’s about to marry another woman. (Oops.) Meanwhile, Mindy’s colleague Jody decided to make a grand gesture to prove his affection for her and bought her an adjoining apartment. But does real estate translate into real love?
“The three characters in this love triangle are incredibly flawed,” Kaling told IndieWire during a set visit. “They’ve done hugely wrong, immoral things time and time and time again. I like dramatic irony, so for me it was really fun for my character to go through the finale without knowing that the former love of her life was engaged. It makes things very complicated.
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“I’m hoping that when you watch the premiere, you’re like, ‘I hope one of these characters behaves in a good way and makes the moral choice,’” she added. “They kind of all redeem themselves, and it’s I think a very satisfying and romantic conclusion to that triangle.”
Read on to preview more of what’s in store this season, including the 100th episode, a nurses’ strike and more [mild spoilers below]:
Mindy So White
During the summer, Kaling had mentioned at the Television Critics Association press tour that the show was playing with the idea of having Mindy wake up and experience life as a white man somehow.
“We decided the most fun way to do it for us was I’m still in it, but I wake up as a white man,” Kaling explained. “We get an actor to play me with my voice in his head, so that I’m present throughout. We get to see the fun of a really funny comedy actor, who we have not cast yet, get to do his inspiration of what [I] would be like in a white man’s body.”
Nurses on Strike
Since uniting last time worked so well and earned the nurses a lounge, they’re taking it on a bigger scale and demanding more respect en masse, not just within Schulman & Associates. While this brings out the aggressive side in Collette (Fortune Feimster) and solidarity in Tamra (Xosha Roquemore), Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) is finding that he’s particularly suited to representing laborers.
“He honestly wants to prevent the strike so he’s very kind of matter of fact. Like, ‘Oh, just sign the form, and we’ll be fine,’” Barinholtz said. “Then the minute that they don’t, he really turns into a, you know, Norma Rae, Samuel Gompers, August Spies. He turns into a real man of the people fighting the proletariat. He gets very into his chants. He employs a lot of rhythm and movement to his chants, like a real loser.”
In opposition, Jeremy (Ed Weeks) takes it upon himself to be the chief negotiator on the doctors’ side. “I think he was inspired by Margaret Thatcher in the ‘80s dealing with the coal miners, and in fact he even wears her pearls under his collar as a kind of a homage to her,” Weeks said. “Of course he is the one that ends up being squashed. It becomes incredibly stressful for him, and he feels very betrayed by everybody, and like no one’s listening to him as usual.”
“He ends up having basically a heart attack, so we see him, he’s in a mobility scooter for two episodes, beeping around the office,” he continued. “It does have a basket on the front which people would insist on using as a trash, which would make me so angry. It’s like have some fucking respect for the character. And no one does. That’s why he’s Jeremy Reed, and that’s why I love playing him.”
One of the surprising friendships that worked out last season was between newcomer Collette, who eventually moved out of her brother Jody’s place to be roommates with Morgan.
“They’re still living together. They finish each other’s sandwiches,” said Barinholtz. “We are having some fun with this new character who’s Colette’s new girlfriend [played by UCB’s Tipper Newton]. Morgan and her have a little bit of tension between them, not sexual tension, but Morgan’s annoyed by her. Then, toward the second part of this season I could see a role where Morgan doesn’t live with Colette anymore. Colette pushes him out. I could see that happening.”
Meanwhile, Morgan will have his own love issues when he gets involved with one of Mindy’s friends. “It puts Mindy in a very awkward position because she’s disgusted by Morgan and annoyed by him, but she also loves him and doesn’t want to be cruel and ruin his love life.”
In the series’ landmark 100th episode, Jeremy gets a blast from the past. “He does have an old friend from University who has now become a very famous actor and there’s some fun interactions there,” Weeks said. “It’s another one of Mindy and Jeremy have this musical appreciation society. Last season they went to see ‘Buchanan,’ which was a rip-off of ‘Hamilton,’ so I think it might have something to do with that again.”
Roquemore added, “The 100th is the fun one. I’m pestering Jody about his love life. We got the movie star over here. Mindy and Jeremy are off at the play. Everyone gets to participate a lot so it’s a really fun one.”
The New Doctor Is In
The office dynamics will change again when guest star Rebecca Rittenhouse joins Schulman as Dr. Anna Ziev.
“Anna is very beautiful, very put together, very cold, kind of hard-nosed doctor who has very little time for the fripperies and the frivolities of our office, and especially butts head with Mindy,” Weeks said. “They’re very opposite to each other, and in fact, Mindy only hires her because we accuse her of being a misogynist, and only wanting men around, so she hires Anna. Of course Anna very quickly becomes her beautiful, icy nemesis.”
Another Chance at 15 Minutes
Last season, Mindy almost got a chance at reflected glory when Leo got cast in (and then cut from) a soap opera. This year, Hollywood comes knocking again… but not for her. A morning show like “Today” first seeks out one of her associates.
“They came to Tamra first, and she’s like, ‘Ugh, they keep blowing up my phone,’” Roquemore said. “I’m like, ‘Hello, I’m not interested,’ so that’s her take on it. She passes it off to everyone else.”
Barinholtz added, “This one is like being like a ‘Today Show’ correspondent. Mindy wants it to be her, but it’s not. It’s all about Mindy struggling with the opportunity to be tertiary famous for a moment. That world, that color on Mindy is my personal favorite.”
Bev’s Sordid Past
Not much is known about former nurse-turned-receptionist Beverly (Beth Grant), but that’s about to change this season. “There is some new information coming forth about her past,” Grant said. “Every episode so far I’ve gotten a new tidbit, and I will say one thing. Well, I won’t tell you the whole line because I don’t want to spoil it, but Robert Blake is a part of her past. That’s kind of a big one! I shouldn’t probably given that secret away, but I won’t say how.”
“You know, she was the role model for the prostitute for ‘Catcher in the Rye,’ and she’s had five husbands, and she’s definitely been in prison, and she has another name, and so yeah, I think more of her mysterious past will be revealed show by show.”
“The Mindy Project” airs new episodes on Tuesdays on Hulu, beginning Oct. 4.