5:12pm PT by Kate Stanhope
'The Mindy Project' Final Season: Chris Messina Sets Multi-Episode Return
Is there still hope for Mindy and Danny on The Mindy Project?
Chris Messina, who played Mindy Kaling's baby daddy and former fiance on the comedy, is set to return for multiple episodes of the Hulu series' final season, co-showrunners Kaling and Matt Warburton announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour.
Although Mindy Lahiri married boyfriend Ben (Bryan Greenberg) in the season five finale, Warburton sounded optimistic about where the new episodes will leave Mindy and Danny despite their breakup and Danny's subsequent marriage earlier in season five.
"The one thing we can promise the audience is a little bit of clarity about where they stand," he said. "It's so great to see him back because we’ve always known they're always going to be in each other's lives … but it's great to actually see what that means this season."
"It's complicated," added Kaling. "They're both married to other people, so we went into that season with all of that, which makes things sort of fun and delicious."
Although Messina hasn't been a series regular since the beginning of season four, Kaling said she still hears a lot from fans about the Mindy-Danny dynamic. "We do hear anecdotally a lot that while they love Mindy dating other characters and we've had some really great stars … they sort of hope that Mindy [and] Danny are the endgame romantically."
Mindy's surprise marriage to Ben at the end of season five will factor heavily into the final episodes. "What is really fun about this season [is] showing her the reality of marriage and what lives up to the expectations and what didn’t, and then frankly getting disillusioned with that over the season," said Kaling.
When was asked about a 'happily ever after' for her character, the actress further hinted that Mindy might end up in a surprising place.
"I think that all of us would agree that we do have 'happily ever after,' the connotations of it, that everything is tied up neatly in a bow, is something we aren’t super interested in," she explained. "That side of it I think we're trying to avoid, while also leaving the audience with the sense of feeling that it was about something and that it really was a project and that she had some growth in the end."
Speaking about the final season, the show's producers revealed that Modern Family star Julie Bowen will guest-star in an episode as "a rival mother who thinks that Mindy is not doing that great of a job." The episode will tackle the larger discussion about mom-shaming that has become a hot topic online and in blogs. "I think she's going to learn a little bit more about how to be a good, involved parent," Warburton added.
In addition to Messina, other returning guest stars for the final season of The Mindy Project include Adam Pally, Glenn Howerton and Mark and Jay Duplass.
Kaling and Warburton opened up about the decision to say goodbye after the show was renewed for a sixth and final season in March. The final 10 episodes will bow in September just as Kaling prepares to segue to a recurring role on the NBC midseason single-camera comedy Champions, which she will also executive produce.
"The decision to end the show was our decision, and I think that's always very hard," Kaling said. "It was like, 'God, should this be the end?' Should we spin off the Kimball-Kinneys and have Garret Dillahunt and Fortune Feimster have their own office in Atlanta? That did occur to us. I think right now the idea of doing a prequel or something like that just felt — we just have such a good finale. We have such a good finale that we've known about for awhile."
Warburton shared that sentiment and said he wanted the finale to have room to breathe: "We don't want anything to distract from the story we've already told."
The Mindy Project's final season kicks off in September on Hulu.