In the biggest departure from episode structure we’ve seen on The Mindy Project, season 4, episode 6, “Road Trip,” lets viewers explore a different side of Danny Castellano.
Instead of flying to California to visit his father, whom had fallen ill at the end of last week’s episode, Danny decides to drive cross-country, unwillingly, with Morgan. En route, Danny makes a stop in Oklahoma to meet Eric — the 16-year-old son he didn’t know he had until a month ago. Danny’s biggest fear had been turning out like his own dad, absent and unavailable.
So what’s he to do when it turns out those fears were already, unknowingly, confirmed? Immediately try to make things right. While paling around, then eventually fighting with Eric, Morgan’s suspicions are raised. Eric is tall, blue-eyed, and according to the Castellano genealogy research Mindy made him conduct, there is no scientific way for Danny to have blue-eyed children. Turns out, Danny is NOT the father. But for this article, that’s neither here nor there.
Danny has transformed into one of the most complex comedy characters on television (for the sake of this article, let’s group Hulu and traditional networks into the one umbrella term for “television.”) He is grumpy. He’s been married before. He was in love with Mindy before either of them realized it. He could’ve become any kind of doctor, but instead he choose to be an OB/GYN, helping bring life into the world. That’s not the profession of a man who actually hates the majority of the world. Danny is mean — evidenced as recently as this week’s episode when he ignores Morgan for huge swaths of time — but he realizes his temper is one of his worst qualities, and he usually cops to it.
We get a glimpse into Danny’s psyche in the moments we see his collapsible red reading glasses (which you can buy on the Fox shop here) or when we see his hip-hop dancing given as a gift. Chris Messina plays the character with such natural charisma, the man can go from acting like a “tough New Yorkah” to an ol’ softie in split seconds.
He wants to do right by his family. With Mindy — and certainly now Leo — he wants to be the best guy he can be. Whether that means being the breadwinner, or actually baking bread (or, pies, a la last week’s episode, “Stay at Home MILF”), his dysfunctional views of family growing up have only swung him onto the other side of the pendulum to make him a good husband and father. He raised Richie, so he’s always been a “fatherly” figure, but there’s a big difference between helping raise a little brother and raising a human you’re completely responsible for.
But hold up — lets take a step back. Danny, as we’ve mentioned, was married once, to Christina. The marriage, obviously, failed. The communication between the two crumbled, and the foundation their relationship was built on, like love and all that, was not far behind. Because this is a show, the writers can make Mindy and Danny work miles better than Christina and Danny. Real life (sadly) isn’t as easy, but it does make for good television.
And finally, let us never forget Eddie the dog from Fraiser. May he be enjoying his tossed salad and scrambled eggs in heaven.