Why I Am Not Here For Mary Jane Paul (But Continue To Show Up)
I want to love this show, but how?
A few months ago, I glued my eyes to the television, intensely ate my way through a bag of popcorn, and fully immersed myself in the world of "Being Mary Jane." What wasn't there to love about this character? She was a Black woman, beautiful, confused, messy, sophisticated… She was everything. I watched as she struggled with her morals and obligations; as she tossed and turned and flipped from one sexy man to another. It was poetry. Beautiful, rachet poetry.
The appeal of the movie was how basic Mary Jane was. She didn't claim to be this be all, end all of woman kind. Hell, she didn't consider herself a role model, even as she was a top ranking news anchor. She was just Mary Jane Paul, struggling to define herself and her life. The movie had me, and supposedly, millions of other women of my particular demographic hooked. We nibbled our fingernails and bided our time until the winter premiere.
And it came. And for me, it went.
As I watched the movie, I felt a spark between Mary Jane and me. No, not the "I am Mary Jane" spark, but the spark that happens between you and character when you want to get to know them more. That moment when you realize you want to waste precious time getting to know the ins and outs of who they are, where they came from, where they are going, etc… The movie answered nary of those questions, so I assumed the series would.
Being Mary Jane has been a huge let down. Each week as I tuned in I was no more connected to the characters, the plots, or story lines than I had been when the commercials aired throughout the fall. It was as if I was supposed to know all of the people who randomly appeared on screen; like they were long distance cousins or something.
I first took issue with this show when random characters would appear in a scene, and there was this forced familiarity between them, myself, and Mary Jane. I didn't want an aside to explain the history between her and every character, but something would have been nice. Lisa? Where did she come from all of a sudden? Kara, the producer (is that her job title?)… I'm guessing they've worked together for a while, but I can't say for sure because… Well, I just can't. Then comes her neighbor/co-worker… I would be remiss if I didn't mention her very close "girlfriends" with whom she shared wine and sperm.
The Patterson family. More randomness. Momma has Lupus. Papa has become a rolling stone for a platinum table. One brother does drugs, while the other sells them. Someone's married to/dating a white woman, and the 19-year-old is pregnant.
What bothers me about all of this is the disconnection from viewers.
All of these characters are supposed to be integral to the storyline of this show, but it's like grasping at straws trying to come to level ground with them. It's as if I'm being forced to let them into my house for dinner, but I don't even know if I can trust them around my good china. For weeks, months, and possibly years, writers put together this series but they left out the most important part: the heart.
This show lacks passion and it lacks poise. Every episode reads as a compilation of suggestions rejected from Tyler Perry's inbox. It wants to be a drama, with sprinkles of comedy, social commentary, and a moral at the end. But that's not happening.
I want to love this show, but in its current state, it's impossible. I just finished the two part finale and feel just as much emptiness as when the series began. I'm not looking forward to the next season, but a part of me just wants the rest of the puzzle. I have the edges, I just need the rest of the picture.
I need the writers, producers, grips, cameramen, sound check, assistants, and lunch servers to do better with this show. I can tell it wants to be taken seriously, but there is seriously nothing to take.