Are Mindy and Danny meant to be?
The Mindy Project's fourth season will return on Hulu on April 12, star Mindy Kaling announced in a super-cute Twitter video.
And for fans worrying over Chris Messina's future on the show after he was MIA in several episodes in the first half of the season, he's not going anywhere, Kaling assured E! News when we chatted with her at the Savannah College of Art and Design's aTVfest television festival in Atlanta in February—not even after the fan-favorite couple grew apart due to Danny's polarizing attitude toward Mindy's parenting.
"Everyone's back. So it's like, I don't want to give away too much of what you can expect," Kaling said of the second half of the season, "But if anyone is worried about not seeing anybody, that's not something anyone needs to worry about."
But was one of the goals of the beginning half of the season to make Danny, who has become a fan-favorite and viral sensation thanks to his secret dance moves, adorable red glasses and gingerbread house-building, unlikable?
"People can change, but they can't change that much. And I think that especially when you're in a relationship and especially when there's a kid involved," Kaling explained. "Relationships get hard when there's a kid when beforehand there would not have been any issues because of the different ways on how to raise a kid and what that kid's life should be, so it's like the character is showing his true self a little bit and it's so in opposition to our lead. It's challenging and it's really real."
Kaling's love for romantic comedies is well documented (She'll take You've Got Mail over Sleepless in Seattle any day, thank you), and The Mindy Project is a love letter to them, but Kaling acknowledged that most of those movies don't ever go beyond happily ever after, something she wanted to explore this season.
"So much of everything is the wedding plot, or the marriage plot, which is just get to the wedding and then happily ever after, and I think that there's so much interesting stuff that can happen after, it's not obviously all just depressing and fighting and things like that, and that's what we've been having so much fun doing all the storylines for the second half of the season," she said. "These are people who are very, very different who would have not chosen to be together trying to make it work. And that sounds really serious and not fun but I think we have made it some of the finest stuff ever because it's just really real."
And the move from Fox to Hulu actually allowed Kaling and the writers to explore that grittier relationship subject matter so often missing in rom-coms. "We're not on a network anymore. We can show what people are really like when they are put in those situations," she said. "It doesn't have to be like quite so sanitized all the time and I like it. Chris is such a good actor that he can pull that stuff off and you're still in his corner. It's been fun to write that stuff, too."
But had the show continued on Fox, Kaling isn't sure the couple would've faced this much turmoil after welcoming Leo, with Kaling admitting, "I think there probably would've been some pushback against those sort of rising tensions between the two of them."
As Kaling has grown as an artist, writer and person, she said she's found herself writing characters who "are real and going through real things" and "fleshing them out as a real adults rather than cake toppers on a wedding cake.
"It's like I put in my time working on things that are straight sitcoms and have a real strong formula," she said. "Now, I'm much more interested in giving people and actors real material and going through real things that might not necessarily work on a network sitcom. Especially when the Hulu opportunity presented itself, I was like, 'Oh, here are people who actually want to see that.' And so it's what I'm more interested in writing a little bit now. I feel a little more grown-up now than I even was four years ago when I started the show."
The Mindy Project's fourth season returns April 12 on Hulu.