'Mindy Project' Team Talks Mindy's Parents, New Faces and Jane Austen Influences in Season 4

"It will always be a workplace show. I think it succeeds the most at the workplace," executive producer Charlie Grandy tells THR about how Mindy's new arrival will shake things up.
John Fleenor/NBC

A lot is changing behind-the-scenes at The Mindy Project now that show's fourth season is moving to Hulu, and a lot is changing on-screen as well.

This upcoming season will see Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and Danny (Chris Messina) welcome their first child. So how much will adding a baby change the series? Kaling, who is also creator and executive producer, isn't concerned.

"We have some fun big moves coming up in the series. I think that a lot of people have expressed worries of like, 'Oh no, are episodes just going to be Mindy and Danny heating up a baby bottle? That's not interesting at all,' " she told The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday at an Emmy event. "I know a lot of interesting people who have children, and I think that is just the way that we choose to tell their stories based on how interesting and dynamic these characters are."

Thankfully, this isn't the first time the show has weathered such a change. "It's similar to last season where, OK, we have Mindy and Danny together and she's not going to date anymore and what do we do? And we figured it out," said executive producer Charlie Grandy. "You lean into those stories of, OK, now they're a couple but they're so different."

Added co-executive producer Tracey Wigfield: "They're such interesting, specific characters that have such different points of view that it will be fun to apply those points of view to things like should she be using formula or breast feeding? Should she use an epidural when she's having the baby? They have a whole other range of things that they get into knock-down, drag-out fights about."

As a dad himself, producer David Stassen said he's excited for the added challenge of having a baby in the mix. "When we're not seeing the baby, it's going to be a permanent problem," he said. "That's a fun device to have for storytelling, to always have this ticking, shitting, crying time bomb that we're going to have to deal with at work and at home for two characters who probably love the kid but want their freedom."

However, the producers stress that the focus won't turn completely to Mindy and Danny's growing family. "It will always be a workplace show. I think it succeeds the most at the workplace," said Grandy. "It's so much about the ensemble as well chiming into what's going on with Mindy and Danny."

To get more scoop on what's coming up in season four, read on:

Time to meet the parents

The season four premiere will pick up quickly after the events of the season three finale. "It will be a mix of right after and a time jump," said Stassen, which means that viewers will definitely get to meet Mindy's folks. "The mom and dad are very different from each other," said Stassen. "The dad is maybe a little more like Danny and the mom is a little more aspirational." Kaling said she drew from one of literature's most famous writers to craft her TV parents. "The dad is someone that I've plucked from my love of Jane Austen novels. He's like a character that I find in those kind of novels," she said. "The mom is someone who is so funny and totally original and I've not seen on a TV show before."

A fiercer Mindy

Speaking of moms, what kind of a mom will Mindy be?  "Her core personality traits are always going to be the same no matter what, but I think it will be interesting how she's going to be such a devoted and fierce mother," said Kaling. "We'll see how her bad behavior comes out in ways that are in protection of her child." As for her baby daddy, "Danny definitely wants to be a better father than his father was," said Stassen. "At the same time, he's probably a little afraid of the family life because his was rocky."

The return of Danny's mother

Now that she's going to be a grandma, expect plenty of appearances by Annette (Rhea Perlman). "We're definitely going to have Rhea back for a bunch of episodes," said Stassen. Wigfield, who based the character of Annette on her own mother, is looking forward to exploring "her opinions about how Catholic this child should be raised." However, Annette might have to compete for babysitting privileges. "Morgan is very good with children and animals, so I think it would be a waste to not use him as some sort of nanny," said star and producer Ike Barinholtz. "I could see him trying to be like Nanny McPhee or Mrs. Doubtfire — a classic British nanny."

A new addition to the staff

There will also be new faces this coming season to fill the void left by Peter (Adam Pally). "We've been talking a little about maybe there's a world where you bring in a new doctor," said Wigfield. Added Kaling during the event: "We've come up with two characters that we love. They're not there to replace that character."

Mindy's expanding inner circle

Now that Mindy is happy professionally and romantically, she'll turn her attention to one part of her life that could use a little improvement. As Kaling stated at BookCon, the show will explore female friendships this season. The comedy has seen several female actresses brought in as Mindy's friends  Anna Camp, Kelen Coleman and Mary Grill to name a few  come and go over the years. "I wrote on 30 Rock and a similar thing happened with Liz Lemon; we were always like why doesn’t she have any friends?" said Wigfield. "When you focus on that office environment, your relationships are often and should be limited to the people in that place so I think that's what happened." However, Kaling said it is one of the show "priorities" going into season four. "It might not even be one person; it might be a couple different people populating her life," said Kaling. "I'm thinking it might be like a new mom who might be able to help Mindy with some advice."

Watch out, Mindy

With all of these things coming down the pike, it's a very good time to be Mindy Lahiri. But will that last? Showrunner Matt Warburton said the theme of this coming season is be careful what you wish for. "People wish for all kinds of stuff: personal triumphs, workplace triumphs. There are some unique challenges when all those things happen at the exact same time," said Warburton. "You can't choose that kind of stuff and you face some pretty terrible compromises that you're going to have to face."

The Mindy Project's fourth season will be available on Hulu.

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