When we first met Morgan Tookers on “The Mindy Project,” the ex-con played by Ike Barinholtz seemed like an odd fit as a nurse at an OB/GYN practice. Throughout the past five years, he’s worked his way up to become his boss, Dr. Mindy Lahiri’s (Mindy Kaling) right-hand man. And in many ways, Barinholtz himself has followed a similar trajectory with his role on the show. The actor-writer-producer added another hyphen to his title when he began directing episodes in the third season. He stepped behind the camera in that leadership position for one episode every season since, culminating with “Leo’s Girlfriend,” the fourth episode of this final season of “The Mindy Project.”
“It’s centered around something that a lot of people can relate to, which is the politics and the relationships you have with other parents at your kid’s school,” Barinholtz tells Variety.
“Leo’s Girlfriend” features guest star Julie Bowen, who is acting like a “surrogate mom” when Mindy can’t spend much time at her son Leo’s school due to her professional demands. “If you refer to yourself as a kid’s surrogate mom in front of his real mom, you’re going to get into a fist fight. And they do,” Barinholtz says.
Mindy may not be making many new friends, but her friendship with Morgan is still going strong, per Barinholtz. (“You know the love is there, so you’re allowed to get away with a lot of misbehavior,” Barinholtz says.) But before the series wraps for good, he hopes the duo will share a genuine emotional moment and “real acknowledgement of their very fine relationship.”
Barinholtz also hopes that before the series wraps up completely Morgan will “find love” and finally get over his many physical ailments like loose teeth and a broken neck he suffered after falling out of his bunk bed to “be healthy.”
And perhaps Barinholtz may even find a way to sneak his favorite running gag from the show back in one last time. In the first season, Barinholtz recalls, Morgan had a pair of broken reading glasses, and he ad-libbed a line to Mindy about where he got them. “I found them at the Salvation Army and they were about to throw them out and I wrestled them out of a guy’s hand and I wear them,” Barinholtz says. “Every time I wear those glasses, we do a take that’s like, ‘Do you know the story about these glasses?'” Though many of those takes have ended on the cutting room floor over the years, it could bring the show full-circle to include one before the very end.
New episodes of the final season of “The Mindy Project” stream on Hulu on Tuesdays.