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Essay: Girls, The Mindy Project, and Very Strange Showers

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Lena Dunham and Patrick Wilson on Sunday’s episode of Girls

HBO’s Girls Sunday night broadcast most Girlsian episode ever, nearly all of which featured a day-long tryst between Lena Dunham’s Hannah and a neighbor, a doctor named Joshua (Patrick Wilson.)

 As more than one recapper pointed out, the show had everything that people who hate Girls hate about Girls: Navel-gazing. Awkward, unerotic sex scenes. Copious Lena Dunham nudity (including a topless table tennis match.) White people problems as the primary subject matter. Wish fulfillment on Dunham’s part. No racial minorities whatsoever.

I tend to land on the pro-Girls side of most arguments. Say what you will about all the show’s faults, but Dunham is a truly original voice, and the show is entertaining, original and often very, very funny. And I enjoyed Sunday’s episode, as an intriguing change of pace for the series. And here I thought Patrick Wilson would never have a more awkward sex scene than the one in “Watchmen”…

But there was one odd thing that I noticed in Sunday’s episode. At one point, Dunham uses the shower at her wealthy beau’s fancy home. It’s got some kind of advanced controls on it, and Dunham’s character lost control of it, finding herself unable to work the thing. Later, we see that she fainted while showering.

Funny, but I realized: I just saw something like this, on a movie or TV show, very recently. My wife thought so too but couldn’t place what it was.

It came to me this morning: It was The Mindy Project. Mindy Kaling’s Fox sitcom, in an episode that aired last month, had Kaling’s character, also named Mindy, at the fancy home of a hookup, a midwife played by Mark Duplass. She too had trouble with his technically advanced shower and found herself trapped.

Strange that two different TV series came up with the same idea at around the same time, especially since it’s so specific, and no other sitcom that I know of had ever used such a gag before. And on top of that, both series have female creator/stars, who are friends with each other and interact on Twitter all the time. Kaling even tweeted Sunday to wonder aloud about what Dunham would be wearing to the Grammy Awards. Alison Williams, who plays Marnie on Girls, just did a guest arc on Kaling’s show.

Even stranger, as of midday on Monday, no recapper/reviewer and no one on Twitter had noticed the coincidence, indicating that maybe the two shows don’t share much audience. (You do get some interesting results, though, when you do an Internet search of “shower scene” and names of famous actresses.)

Did the shower experience happen to Dunham or Kaling, after which one told the other, and it ended up on both shows? Perhaps. But you’d think they’d have worked out between the two of them who got to use the story on their show.

So here’s my completely speculative theory of what happened: There’s some guy in New York or Los Angeles, likely a doctor or midwife, who has a hard-to-work shower. Two different women- one on the writing staff of The Mindy Project, the other a Girls writer- both hooked up with this guy within months of each other, both had trouble with his shower, and both wrote it into their respective TV series.

Regardless of how this happened, I like the crossover potential. The Mindy Project would be a much better show if Adam showed up. 

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