Ike Barinholtz Works His Magic on 'Mindy'

by Jarett Wieselman 11:50 AM PDT, October 08, 2013
Photo: FOX

With those season one growing pains barely a dot in the rearview mirror, The Mindy Project has leapt from strength-to-strength in 2013 as the show found its voice, the perfect cast permutation and a beyond-loyal fanbase that hangs on every glob. The recently-launched second season continued the show's winning streak, culminating in last week's hilarious and heartbreaking episode, Music Festival, where Mindy and Pastor Casey called it quits.

In tonight's all-new episode, Mindy moves on with a shocking suitor: Morgan! But as is to be expected, it's not as simple or straight-forward as that according to Ike Barinholtz, who redefines what it means to be a "scene-stealer." ETonline caught up with The Mindy Project writer and co-star to talk about tonight's episode, titled Magic Morgan, learn who the lovable nurse's heart actually belongs to and find out what he's excited for fans to see in the coming weeks!

ETonline: First of all, I should probably offer you congratulations since last week's episode ended with Morgan and Danny getting engaged!
Ike Barinholtz: Thank you! [laughs] Once DOMA was struck down, we knew we'd be able to do what we wanted. That was such a fun episode. I thought the proposal bit was so funny; [Chris] Messina was just hilarious. Morgan is just trying to do right by his friend. He doesn't just wear his heart on his sleeve, he wears his brain on his sleeve.

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ETonline: Tonight's episode is called Magic Morgan, what does that title refer to?
Barinholtz: It's the first real Morgan-Mindy episode and it was pitched by one of our writers, who thought it would be so funny if Morgan offhandedly mentioned to Mindy that every time a girl breaks up with him, they fall in love with someone else. And since Mindy is going through her breakup with Pastor Casey, she's in the saddest, most desperate place we've seen from her so far. Through that desperation, and some alcohol, she asks Morgan to work his "magic" on her. Morgan understands she's going through a lot of things. He wants to help his friend, so he reluctantly acquiesces and says yes. But once it's eminent, he gets too into it and Mindy kind of sobers up a bit and freaks out at seeing his naked body. Needless to say, some feelings are hurt. It couldn't go worse.

ETonline: Morgan is very sensitive, I can't imagine he takes that too well...
Barinholtz: He's a very sensitive guy. He's thinking he looks great and puts himself in this vulnerable position, but Mindy overreacts at the shock of seeing this giant, nude man in her bed. Morgan misinterprets it, some things are said, and litigation gets involved. It really snowballs into a crisis between the two of us. Morgan and Mindy have to, basically, make it right with each other. It’s the first real Morgan-Mindy episode and it ends with a really sweet moment.

ETonline: In addition to acting on the show, you're also a writer, so coming in this season, what changes were you trying to inject with Tamara, Fat Jeremy and Adam Pally's character?
Barinholtz: We wanted to get variance. As far as Ed Weeks is concerned, we realized that it's so much funnier when Ed is flustered and frustrated. And to pack 40 pounds onto a very handsome guy who is constantly frustrated by office responsibilities ... we thought that was so funny. Ed has been one of our favorite people to write for this year. Mindy also thought it would be great to bring in a new doctor that she's always at odds with, and she wanted it to be Adam Pally. We all loved him on Happy Endings and from his UCB Theater days, so we developed that character as an anathema to Mindy. While Mindy is a smart, modern woman, he's a dumb, frat guy. Pally's such a fast improviser, he makes smart, comedic choices. For Tamara, we instantly loved her last season. I think that's a character Morgan has his eye on; he thinks there's a possibility of them ending up together even though she has a boyfriend, who is played by Josh Peck. We really wanted to build up and solidify our world off weirdos to play off Mindy.

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ETonline: The audience loved Pastor Casey so much, how do you approach building the next love interest given that fan affection?
Barinholtz: We were sad to lose Anders Holm as Pastor Casey, but stepping into his shoes is Glenn Howerton, who we're all a big fan of from Sunny. He comes aboard as Cliff Gilbert, an attorney who works in the same building as us. At first it's a little adversarial, but that will become a romance between him and Mindy. Glenn is so funny and almost disgusted by the things the people in our office do. We're constantly hiring him as our attorney even though none of us pay him -- and he's a divorce attorney! He really has no business working for us [laughs]. But I think he's someone I think the fans will love too. We also have some great guest stars coming up. In episode five Timothy Olyphant shows up as a guy who you'd see on Melrose and think, "Aren't you too old to be on a skateboard?" A bit of an arrested development, thing. Mindy thinks she's being too snobby about the guys she dates, so even though he's 45 and kind of stupid, they go out. I think we figured out last year that putting Mindy in situations where she's uncomfortable is the most fun. The relationship between Mindy and Cliff is a slow build, but it does eventually end, so we will go back to seeing Mindy being single, because that's real life. Sometimes relationships go away. We like watching Mindy go out there and try to find love again.

ETonline: Mindy and Danny feels like an endgame relationship. Is that coupling something the writers are looking to explore any time soon?
Barinholtz: Look, there's no denying there's something between the two of them. And even though they'd be loath to admit it, we will see shades of that this season. Not in every scene and not in every episode, but you will think, "Wow, she's into him" or "Wow, he’s into her" throughout the year. Personally, I think their dynamic is so funny, they could get married next season and have the whole show be about them living together. I would love to see that. I would love to write stories for that. But there's also something great about watching them be with other people, with the wrong people. There's something very Harry & Sally about that. To me, I enjoy watching them play off one another, and at this point, I could go either way. But in the end, it's important they address their true feelings for one another, even if they don't end up together. Although, that's only if Danny and Morgan get divorced because we are legally bound.

The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on FOX.