Being Mary Jane / Screen

Being Mary Jane: “Sleepless in Atlanta”

Mary Jane, I’m cringing again.

It was going to be here eventually but “Sleepless in Atlanta” marks season two’s first foray into cringeworthy Mary Jane. It had to happen sooner or later, but still it pains me to see her being so out of touch and so wrong when it comes to Niecy. Their cohabitation couldn’t possibly last forever, not even with Niecy seemingly beginning to turn her life around last week, and the arrival of Treyvion’s father, Cameron (Kyle Massey) only quickens hers and Mary Jane’s falling out. Seeing Massey in this role is uncomfortable because I was watching Disney Replay the other night, and I caught an episdoe of That’s So Raven, but he doesn’t have much to do outside of his initial scene, appealing to Niecy for permission to build a relationship with Treyvion. It starts off well enough, with Niecy taking Cameron to task for being absent for this long, and it quickly devolves into Niecy and Cameron having sex in Mary Jane’s bed.

To be fair, I would have kicked Niecy out right then, because that’s a huge cohabitation no no right there, and Niecy certainly knew better. But though Mary Jane means well when she tells Niecy her life can’t revolve around men and kids, she speaks blindly and ignorantly, unaware that her life is following the exact same pattern. Mary Jane’s always had on blinders when it comes to herself, and it’s outright painful to see her screaming at Niecy about her poor life choices when hers are equally poor. After all Mary Jane’s freezing her eggs so she can have kids one day while lamenting her inability to get married, which makes her lambasting Niecy particularly harsh. Even Mary Jane’s career has taken a backburner to romance plots that are repetitive and unsatisfying.

Combining Mary Jane’s work with a romantic prospect could serve well for the show going forward, if only because it allows it to visit two elements of Mary Jane’s life, including one that’s been poorly developed. Though Mary Jane’s supposedly an important and influential figure in Atlanta, it never quite comes off that way. She seems to be struggling more often than succeeding, but Sheldon Dewitt coming into Mary Jane’s personal and professional lives promises a lot in the way of energizing both of these storylines. Mary Jane’s work arcs have been sporadic and weakly handled, and Mary Jane’s romances are dragging. How often can we watch her have the same conversation with David or get tangled up in an unhealthy romance that’s played itself out already? Though there’s no way Sheldon’s going to end up being drama free, there’s a mine of material for the show to use, and seeing Mary Jane navigate the complicated beginnings of a relationship is something we haven’t seen before.

Mary Jane’s lack of awareness for her own life is likely going to be a forever sort of deal, her perhaps never finding herself until the series finale. She and Niecy  leave their issues unresolved, which is as much Mary Jane’s fault as it is Niecy’s. One quality Mary Jane manages to keep consistent is reminding me of my own life, and calling for grandpa’s help when his children are acting up is very much something that I used to do (and still do). And his attempts at helping aren’t really all the successful, though he does try to lay down some wisdom for the warring parties.

At this point that’s what works best for Mary Jane’s extended family. Giving them storylines of their own is admirable, but the show is never able to give them the attention they require, but attaching them to Mary Jane and her conflicts is a much more promising strategy. The show’s called Being Mary Jane, and making everything revolve around its protagonist wouldn’t be a bad thing. It would make everything appear more relevant, rather than as superfluous and poorly developed as it does now. That’s certainly the case with Kara’s dating saga, which just become more ridiculous this week as she goes off on her very decent date for calling her out on her not-at-all-decent behavior.

Stray Observations

  • The music on this show is so obvious. That’s not to say I don’t love it, but there’s no subtlety whatsoever, exemplified by Jhene Aiko’s “You’re the Worst”playing for Niecy’s chat with Cameron.
  • Can we please just let Kara do her thing offscreen? I don’t care about her enough for her weird rudeness to be at all watchable.

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