Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative Difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: MINDY Kaling
Vera Mindy Chokalingam (born June 24, 1979), known professionally as Mindy Kaling, is an American actress, comedian, and writer. She is the creator and star of the Fox and Hulu sitcom The Mindy Project, and also serves as executive producer and writer for the show. She is also known for her work on the NBC sitcom The Office, where she portrayed the character Kelly Kapoor and served as executive producer, writer and director. (Wikipedia)
This is fine. I have no idea who MINDY Kaling is, and I'm charmingly unwilling to even read that Wikipedia paragraph [1D: Actress/comedian Kaling]. I even blew the opportunity to post a photo of her for a Simpsons reference. Such is life. This is not the blog post you need, but it's the one you deserve.
ANDIE MacDowell is a criminally underutilized actress, so I highly approve of giving her some play in this puzzle [6A: MacDowell of "Groundhog Day"]. Looking at her filmography, she's made a ton of movies since Groundhog Day but I've seen almost none of THEM [4D: Not us]. No, the only one I know is Multiplicity, which is NOT a good movie but does have the distinction of being one I've seen several times, being at one point one of a small number I owned on VHS, back when VHS was a thing (back when owning physical media was a thing, for that matter). Another one was, oddly enough, Hudson Hawk, itself a MacDowell vehicle and a surprisingly intriguing failure that is worth your investigation. If you are skeptical, I present to you the fact that in this movie, all of the villain's henchmen are named after candy bars.
Nice bit of topicality with FINCH [5A: Bird in the #BirdieSanders meme], It's been said before, but it's satisfyingly coincidental that the incident happened in Portland, a city already meme-famous for putting birds on things. Apparently less impressively topical is RYAN [8A: Current speaker of the house], but here's hoping the #BirdieSanders meme has more staying power.
SCION was legitimately challenging [3D: Offspring]. It's such a weird, science fiction-y word it doesn't leap to mind very readily as a synonym for 'offspring'. Hence this is one of the those rare cases when the one-word synonym clue is actually satisfying. I like FAIR [5D: Partner of square] ok, as it puts in the minimal amount of effort to be playful. I mean, what are they partners in? Are they lawyers or something? It's a little cute, kinda sorta.
Signed, Jonathan Gibson, incomparable demigod of CrossWorld