by Janday Wilson
“Being Mary Jane” Season 1, Episode 3 Recap
The schmaltz was laid on really, really thick last night folks. “I deserve better than this. I was raised better than this!” Mary Jane wails after getting caught by her brother going to (down) town on Andre in the opening scene. (I know I wasn’t the only one expecting the head in Andre’s lap to be that of his wife Avery.)
The drama of this scene takes a Tyler Perry turn as Mary Jane turns into a doe-eyed damsel in distress as quickly as she snapped. She reprimands Andre for not fixing the floodlights in her pool, so he gets all Prince Charming on her and dives into the deep end fully-clothed to fix them. “Anything else you want me to do?” was all Mary Jane needs to hear to turn on her bedroom eyes and go slack-jawed as Andre proceeds to reciprocate their oral exchange.
But wait. What about deserving better? And did we skip the scene where the Men in Black walk in with the neuralyzer? Because I would think she would need her memory to be completely erased before being able to engage in any sexual activity five minutes after her brother walked in on her giving–
Ehh, moving on…
Let’s not even get started on her gazing wistfully at Andre’s (likely blood diamond) ring once again, then essentially telling him that she cannot accept it under their present circumstances. How noble of her. Not! We all know she wants it deep down inside and this little game of maybe…no!…maybe….no! is a ploy for her to ignore the fact that Mr. Trifling’s ring cannot make an honest woman out of her.
There’s no shame in MJ’s game. She has about as little as her brother Patrick who jokingly extorts his sister for $30,000 to buy his silence on her illicit affair. A bit of my soul died when MJ responded to his judgment with, “He says he loves me, and I believe him”.
To which Patrick responds by revealing to Mary Jane that she is an addict, listing all of the signs of addiction and advising that she join a 12-step program. Patrick’s cocaine affliction = Mary Jane’s married peen addiction. Get it?
Okay, so now we’re drowning in the schmaltz.
Then we’re back at Mary Jane’s workplace. Kara pitches her this documentary about Samantha Haven, a woman whose body was discovered on the couch in front of her television three years after she passed away. Mary Jane doesn’t want to cover the story because she doesn’t want to be the “go-to girl for obscure female issues” and Kara rebuts her with a platitude about how stories like this keep us sensitive. It’s a lot of blah blah blah set to the plaintive soundtrack of “Is There Anybody Out There,” sung by the lovely Laura Mvulva, which has the line “is there anybody out there” in it a gajillion times. I may have enjoyed the song if I had heard it for the first time anywhere but here in this very obvious scene, but alas, it has been ruined.
Surprise, surprise. Mary Jane is really gung-ho about covering the story. It’s unfortunate that Being Mary Jane turns a haunting real life story into this tedious piece on social media and technology and the “culture of loneliness,” a topic that has been chewed into mush in the Zeitgeist. They even drag the poor Reverend Jesse Jackson onto the show as a commentator: His coalition is attacking the desensitization of America by targeting a tech conference in Silicon Valley. “Some change is good, some is not” he muses. I died.
This turns into a sad metaphoric scene for Mary Jane’s colleague Mark who laments the erosion of journalism’s old guard. A depressing story about a dead girl and technology-enabled asocial behavior = a dying traditional media industry in which Mark’s role as the “newsiest news man” means nothing unless he engages with social media and reports on the Kardashians and Syria in equal measure. Capisce?
That whole bit is a tad too dramatic, but what seems utterly real is the tense workplace politics at play between Mary Jane and Cynthia, the nipped and tucked face of the network. Cynthia compliments Mary Jane’s work on the Samantha Haven story (“Thank me by not taking my job one day”), but tells her that “loyalty is at a premium” and they should each stay in their own lane. Those are fighting words. It’ll be interesting to see how MJ will square up.
Later, we see more parallels between Patrick and Mary Jane’s stories. Both are doing their damnedest to not fall prey to their weaknesses. A major part of Patrick’s coming clean involves him wanting to set up a legitimate business – an upscale mobile lounge. Unfortunately, his meeting with his former business partner doesn’t go quite as planned, and it doesn’t look like he’ll have access to the resources required to bring his idea to reality any time soon. Mary Jane aspires to be responsible and have more respect for herself. She deletes Andre’s contact information and dumps items related to him, like her perfume and a purse. But then she has a meltdown and tries to retrieve his number.
“What do you do when you’re jonesing?” Mary Jane asks her brother as they bond over their mental enslavement. He rescues her and they escape to the land of family where Mary Jane transforms back into Pauletta (her real name).
(One issue: I can’t believe they did not address Uncle Ron snatching up a palmful of Mary Jane’s behind!!)
The scene in which they reminisce about their good days and Patrick dispenses advice to his little sister MJ is really sweet and genuine. Too bad it was overshadowed by the maudlin that was this episode.
Which is made even more maudlin at the very end. After the siblings part ways, Patrick backslides and snorts cocaine, and Mary Jane slips right back into bed next to the broad, tattooed back of Andre.