If you think you've got an idea about where The Mindy Project is headed as it begins to wrap up season four, Mindy Kaling has some news for you: You don't.
Though the last few episodes have made it seem as if things were building to a head with the confusing feelings the fictional Mindy and new doc Jody (Garret Dillahunt) are clearly feeling about one another, Kaling admitted to E! News that she's looking forward to subverting all of our expectations as the season comes to an end. "I think that people expect one thing and I keep reading the same thing, and it is not what everybody thinks," Kaling told us backstage at the show's For Your Consideration event last week. "I'm so excited for people to see it because everyone just gets really certain that it's going to be a certain way and, I don't want to give any spoilers away, but there is some big left turns that I'm excited about."
While Kaling refused to elaborate on exactly what she had up her sleeve, she did offer up a few hints. "We have a lot of returning guests, I will say that," she admitted, before later adding, "We have a huge cliffhanger this season, so it's always fun when you get back in the [writers] room and go, 'OK, how are we going to extricate ourselves from this?' So that's been fun."
One thing we know for sure? These final episodes will, one way or the other, feature Danny (Chris Messina), who had been MIA for a good chunk of season four after the decision was made to split Mindy and Danny up. During the evening's Q&A, Kaling and her co-showrunner Matt Warburton revealed that these episodes would be "Danny heavy."
Danny's absence this season has not been without its controversy. Not only were fans of the couple dismayed by the development, but Kaling began facing down criticism over the decision to explore the newly single Mindy's dating life, as it often meant we didn't see the mother with her son Leo. Fed up with the reaction that she viewed as a sexist double-standard, Kaling fired off a tweet in late May that read "People ask where Mindy's baby is when I'm on a dating story. He's off playing w/the children on male-driven comedies no one ever asks about."
When asked to elaborate on her decision to address the situation, Kaling admitted that she thinks its the rarity of seeing a single mother on a sitcom these days that's lead to the criticism. "I think that, a lot of times, when you see a single mother dating on a TV show, well, actually, not a lot of times, because it doesn't exist. You don't see it, so it's shocking to people and they don't know how to receive it. We don't expect a man to take care of his child," she explained. "They have freedom that they can do whatever and the nanny will be taking care of it. The assumption is that someone's taking care of it, some female is taking care of it."
"And on our show, the character is such a caring mother and she has disposable income, she's a doctor. And the father's in the picture. And yet, you still hear people ask where the father is. And it's one of those things that is one of the most openly sexist things that no one really knows that they're saying that," she continued. "'Where's the baby?' It's like, you know what, babies on TV shows are taken care of. Ross had a child in the pilot of Friends and I don't know how often we saw his son. Louis [C.K.] has kids on his show and we only see them sometimes and we assume that Louie is a good father. I just thought, that's how it should be. You shouldn't scrutinize it. You should trust the characters to do that. And I just wanted to call out a double standard that I saw."
As for whether The Mindy Project ends when Mindy finds her Mr. Right, Kaling remains unsure if that's the ultimate goal. "I think it's about this character figuring out how to be happy and what that means for her," she said. "And she's really certain in what she thinks it is, and I have kind of a different idea of what I think it is. And maybe I'm right, maybe she's right. Maybe I haven't figured it out yet. I just like surprises. I don't want to give people what they are expecting."
New episodes of The Mindy Project stream every Tuesday on Hulu.