Like most of us come Jan 1, Mary Jane Paul intended to have a fresh start. We last saw the broadcast television host (Gabrielle Union) of Being Mary Jane, in Atlanta with her career in jeopardy, a niece who was unlawfully tasered by a police officer, a best friend who committed suicide and a love life in shambles. It all bubbled over, which made her move from the Dirty South to New York City —media’s biggest market— a big deal for her character.
But oh, MJ. We can always count on you to go off the beaten path. And that’s just what she did... within the first ten minutes of the episode.
For some context: Being Mary Jane debuted its fourth season last night (Jan 10) just weeks after a lawsuit filed by Union against BET for breach-of-contract was settled. In a nutshell, she got the 13-episode maximum season as previously agreed upon, to accommodate for her movie career. Gabrielle is back, thus Mary Jane is on a popping.
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The first episode of season four starts off with MJ and her producer/friend Kara Lynch (Lisa Vidal) a year after last season, celebrating their new jobs in the Big Apple on a nationally broadcasted morning show. The ladies buy drinks at a club, share a few laughs and scope out the scene for men. At that point MJ shares that she’s only interested in Mr. Right, having paid a matchmaker $20,000 to find her a husband. But just this night, and this one last night only, she can indulge in a one night stand before settling down to white-picket-fence perfection.
Thus enters Lee Truitt (Chike Okonkwo), a British hottie/comedian at said club who obliges MJ for this one night stand. After some trepidation for her uncharacteristic boldness, the pair get down to business— but not before she asks him to say, “I love you”.
Confused? No, you read that correctly. Mary Jane ‘I Desperately Want A Stable Man’ Paul, asks a one-night-stand to quickly declare his love for her, before sexing her up. For anyone else this would seem weird, but for our girl, it’s on brand at this point.
What happens next is a series of serendipitous events leading Lee to figure out who Mary Jane is (did we forget to mention she never told him her name?), mildly pursue her, go on a second date that involved grinding in a random glow stick-happy nightclub, and do the dirty once again. Somewhere between his pursuing and the dance session, MJ gets dropped from her matchmaker’s roster because as she notes, “For this to work, you have to do more just write a check. You've got some work to do on yourself."
On the professional front, things are a bit more convoluted. MJ goes from being honored to have her dream job to potentially replacing Ronda Sales (Valarie Pettiford) the woman she looked up to as a budding journalist. To make matters worse, she thinks she’s being courted by a head producer for Ronda’s position, only to find out he may be trying to pit them against each other. Per usual, the microaggressions and office politics serve for the type of relatable plotlines BMJ fans have come to love the show for.
side eye at all these mens Mary Jane is running into after being in NY for two days. 👀 where are they when I visit? #BeingMaryJane— D. Genell (@dgenelll) January 11, 2017
20K for a match maker? Whaaaat? #BeingMaryJane— Amy DuBois Barnett (@amydbarnett) January 11, 2017
Another element to BET’s hit show that people love are the moments of self-reflection and education. When initially introduced to Ronda she’s interviewing Senator Cory Booker about his bipartisan work as a senator. Like seasons’ past, BMJ writers infuse real life figures to “act” on the show as a way to address serious issues plaguing the nation. In Booker’s segment he’s asked about his thoughts on school expulsion rates, specifically addressed in his very real life Supportive School Climate Act of 2015.
We also see the repercussions of Niecey Patterson’s (Raven Goodwin) taser incident that in the year prior put the family through a lot of strain. It’s no coincidence in an episode directed by Mario van Peebles that Niecey’s father Patrick Patteron (Richard Brooks) delivers the poignant line of, “As a community we have to be a united front, if we want to see change."
The table has been set for this fresh season of BMJ, and we — like all of its adoring fans — are more than ready to take a seat.