9:30am PT by Kate Stanhope
'The Mindy Project' Cast Breaks Down Final Season Premiere Twist, Chris Messina's Return
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday's season six premiere of The Mindy Project, "Is That All There Is?"]
The Mindy Project is no stranger to babies. After all, the Hulu comedy revolves around a single mom, Mindy Lahiri (creator and star Mindy Kaling), who also happens to run a fertility clinic.
However, it was one of her patients in the season six premiere that caught many by surprise: Tamra (Xosha Roquemore), who came to Mindy asking for help as she dove head-first into single motherhood.
"I think it was the right time," Roquemore tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It makes a huge difference in the Tamra character because she's so self-involved and so young and millennial and only cares about going out and being cool, so I think wanting to get pregnant is just such a huge 180. It's a good thing to do in the final season, it shows some growth."
The development hit close to home for the actress, who gave birth in the hiatus between seasons five and six. "It was meta for me because I was literally at home with a newborn reading it so I was like, 'Here we go with this shit again,'" she says with a laugh.
However, she says her own recent pregnancy helped on the set. "I remember these new feelings when you're in the early stages of trying to get pregnant or being pregnant, and how mysterious it is and how scary it can be and how much you miss raw fish, if you like that sort of thing," she says.
The potential pregnancy will impact more than just Tamra's diet. "I think it makes her more relationship-oriented perhaps, she's a little more slowed down. She's not dating as much," Roquemore says. "But it doesn't change some of the stuff about her. She's still Tamra. She's still got her quips and her comebacks."
That change in her romantic life comes as just as someone from her romantic past, Morgan (Ike Barinholtz), re-enters her life in a big way. After discovering she's trying to get pregnant, he actively tries to become involved and help her along her journey, particularly when it comes to injecting herself with hormones. But it just remains to be seen how much Tamra will actually allow him to be involved.
"It's a weird thing to have a person that you love trying to get pregnant and you're like, 'I want to be part of that, but they may not want me to be part of that,'" Barinholtz says. "It's a big struggle between the two of them."
Behind the scenes, there was much more of a consensus about the decision to re-visit Morgan and Tamra's will-they-or-won't-they dynamic after keeping them apart in recent seasons.
"I had always hoped because I love Tamra and Morgan and I know the fans love Tamra and Morgan," Roquemore says. "It's such an unlikely pairing. I was always just very curious about how they worked so I just always wanted to explore more."
"Morgan and Tamra have always loved each other," Barinholtz adds. "We definitely knew that that was a relationship that we were not done with."
Tamra's pregnancy quest will also impact her relationship with Mindy. "It brings them closer because Dr. L is the one who's basically like her doctor throughout this and you get really close with your doctor," Roquemore says.
As seen in the premiere episode, Mindy takes a vested interest in Tamra (as well as Jody and Anna's burgeoning romantic relationship) as she subconsciously distances herself from new husband Ben (Bryan Greenberg). The episode ends with Mindy saying she's rushing home to be with him, and then promptly falling asleep in the break room at the hospital.
"When we started the show, Mindy Lahiri had this very idealized vision of marriage," says Barinholtz, who also serves as a writer, consulting producer and director on the Universal TV half-hour. "As she's evolved, she's kind of seen that that's not necessarily what it's all about. It's all about you being happy with you. We kind of thought, going into the last season, we don't want Mindy to be anything short of happy so letting her kind of discover what she wants and realizing it's not necessarily being part of a couple."
The slow disintegration of her marriage to Ben also may leave room for other potential love interests in the final episodes of the series. "We need a little bit of a romantic tension coming in at the end of the season, so we wanted to free up some real estate," Barinholtz explains.
Enter her ex-fiance, ex-coworker and baby daddy Danny (former series regular Chris Messina), who returns for multiple episodes toward the end of the season. Although the actor stepped down as a series regular midway through season four, he has still returned for guest appearances, most recently at the end of season four when he and Mindy slept together, only for her to come home to find his wedding invitation to another woman.
Although Barinholtz calls the characters' off-screen co-parenting relationship "amicable," he says that is about to change. "There is a bit of a dramatic turn towards the end of the season that organically brings Mindy and Danny together and we'll kind of see where their relationship, how the relationship has evolved from that kind of bickering, fiery passion and into something else," he says.
It's returning faces like Messina, as well as Adam Pally, Glenn Howerton, Anders Holm, Rhea Perlman and Rob McElhenney, that both Barinholtz and Roquemore say has been an important part of the show's farewell season — and particularly the last episode.
"They're going to love it," Roquemore says of fans' reaction to the finale. "It's fun, it's happy, it's not sad, and there's a lot of familiar faces in the end."
The Mindy Project episodes are available to stream Tuesdays on Hulu.