Being Mary Jane / Screen

Being Mary Jane: “Freedom”

One thing Being Mary Jane just can’t get right is its supporting cast. It has a fun and sympathetic leading lady in Mary Jane, but all the show’s attempts at rounding out her life through her friendships always falls short. Kara, who isn’t actually all that likable, is the only consistent friend we’ve seen of hers, while her revolving door of other friends are forgettable and rarely seen. “Freedom” zeroes in on Mark as he enlists Mary Jane in pretending to be straight for the sake of his visiting parents.

“Freedom” is most easily described as a filler episode, which isn’t a good thing either. Some shows can excel with fillers, but this isn’t really one of them. BMJ immediately stops its momentum. As tiring as Mary Jane’s romances can be, they’re a large part of the show and to spend the bulk of this episode ignoring them (aside from a dream of David featuring his son Andre in the episode’s beginning). Other than that Mary Jane’s relationship, or lack of one, with David is left untouched in favor of other storylines that, though they could have been decent, suffer from BMJ‘s lack of attention.

Mark coming out could be a nice storyline, if we had any reason to care about Mark besides  some sparse appearances here and there. BMJ has become more about the conversation than the characters, and though the show’s never afraid to shed light on situations and ideologies, there’s no pathos behind them when all the characters except for Mary Jane are paper thin. Mark coming out to his parents should be emotional, but if feels like nothing much, just a way for the show to form some sort of opinion about black, gay men without going through the trouble of really developing Mark’s character. It never feels like it’s about Mark, because we don’t know anything about him other than that he’s gay and closeted and supposedly very important to Mary Jane (though we rarely see even that) which isn’t good enough as far as character development.

It’s the same with Mary Jane’s story this week, as she works to shed a light on sex trafficking. I’ve no idea why Mary Jane suddenly takes such an interest or even why the show does. It just throws it in there, to be soon forgotten among Mary Jane’s antics. It’s an important story to tell, but if doesn’t feel connected to anything else. We’ve seen Mary Jane’s stories somehow parallel her life, and this one is meant to alter her feelings of annoyance toward Niecy, who’s still living with her.  Because I guess she realizes that there are worse situations for Niecy to be in than living in her guest room with her kids.

The only other plot point “Freedom” bothers with is Kara’s flirtation with a man whose daughter came to the station for some kind of inspiring student tour. The whole interaction is weird, the father more strange than charming (and after the segue into sex trafficking I thought he was a secret pimp or something) and Kara, determined to be a trash character this season, announces that she doesn’t date Latino men.  Ooooookay, Kara, so you’re that person.

“Freedom” is so frivolous that it’s hard to find anything to say about it. It’s a thin attempt at an episode, despite the heavy topics it dealt with. It’s not a bad idea for Being Mary Jane to find more to sustain it, and its main character, than her obsessive and unhealthy romantic attachments, but it’s going to have to work harder to make those elements work in the fabric of the show so we don’t get more forgettable episodes like this one.

Stray Observations

  •  First of all, let’s talk about how John Lennon’s quote makes no sense whatsoever. So there are no black women of course, and it also implies that women (white women) are somehow treated worse than black people? Or…something? It’s stupid.
  • Let’s just not talk about this episode ever again.
  • Apologies for the extreme lateness of this review.
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