Like other episodes of MARY + JANE, Jenéeuary gets to the punch quickly. Local “It” Girl Jenee is throwing herself a month-long birthday celebration. But the main event is a party filled with 90s references. I’m a child of the 90s and was really looking forward to reliving my teenage dream but it didn’t happen. Too often Mary + Jane feels as though it was written by grown-ups with very little understand of millennial culture and this episode was no different.
So Paige is the stable, reliable one and although she occasionally tokes up, she doesn’t have typical sitcom stoner characteristics. Instead, Jordan is the flaky pothead that can’t be trusted. Only she’s also super annoying so there’s no real balance of comic relief between the duo, so all the comedy has to come from the situation of the week. Only the situation of the week tends to be kind of weak. Like the tension in the episode is due to Paige once again obsessing over her ex-boyfriend, who is playing DJ at the party. So she understandably doesn’t want to go but Jordan talks her into it because otherwise she’s letting him be her “fun lord.” I’m pretty sure that this is yet another riff on feminism that is too convoluted to send a message. But later in the episode, Spice Girls’ “girl power” gets mocked. I’m so confused to which feminist clichés are acceptable, it’s getting to be a bit much.
Once at the party, Jordan, as one-half of Kriss Kross leaves to sit in a white Bronco with a Felicity, where she accidentally hotboxes herself and thus gets super high. Meanwhile, Paige is dressed as Sarah Jessica Parker and stuck with a Jenee as Ginger Spice with a Friends fountain as décor. For me, the references weren’t that great because I didn’t watch a lot of those shows or listen to the music—but maybe they were super awesome if you were into the sad chick thing back in the day.
While Paige is at the party mourning about Soft Serve, Jordan should be serving up some comic relief once she decides that she has actually time traveled back to the 90s due to the movie posters and East LA shops filled with stuff that seem to indicate its possible. As Jordan wanders through empty dark streets alone, the perfect storm of events continues to convince her that she really is back in time. It could be really funny and clever, a kind of traditional sitcom goofiness meets the wit of Frasier, but it ends up being kind of stunted and sad because Jordan just randomly realizes that her mom’s a good mom and her stepmom was a skank. So much for the female empowerment there, it all goes out the window once the sexually liberal Jordan labels another woman a slut.
Beyond the obvious contradictions and confusions about modern feminism, Jordan manages to find a pay phone and use it, even though she’s supposedly so high she actually believes that she has time traveled. I’m not sure that I would know how to use a pay phone anymore, especially without any change, and I’m not sure that you can call collect and leave a message on a machine. I’d also think that dialing a number rather than just selecting “mom” on your cell phone would be a tedious task when your brain is foggy, but I’m clearly over-thinking things too much.
Meanwhile, back at the lamest party ever, Paige is in the process of connecting with a sweet guy in overalls when Soft Serve comes into the picture. Of course, she leaps at the chance to hook up with him. She regrets it only after meeting up with a chick with an accent lamenting that her ex is so horrible and says she used to be his muse, which is what Soft Serve called Paige. In typical TV fashion, Paige reacts all stereotypically emotionally and instead of just calling it a night, interrupts Soft Serve’s set to officially break up with him (even though he had done that eons ago) and then finishes up with a coordinated dance routine to TLC’s No Scrubs. Instead of thinking it was a really cute tribute, it just made me miss TLC and wonder why the few people of color on the show were backup dancers. Or pathetic romantic rejects.
The show’s wrap up with Jordan completely convinced that the Bronco is a time traveling Delorean is pretty cute, as everything really has added up for her to believe she has been to the 90s and back. But I didn’t experience any sense of nostalgia, just an annoyance that I didn’t experience any nostalgia.
Next week the girls are in rehab and they don’t want to go. I’m sure plenty more could be clever, clichéd chaos will ensure as the writers continue to make pot an afterthought and don’t delve any deeper into character development.
Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
Mary + Jane airs Monday at 10PM on MTV
Carly is a freelance writer that watches too much TV while she writes blogs and articles about lifestyle including travel, food, fashion, beauty, home decor, entertainment, health, fitness and wellness and green living.
Follow Carly on Twitter: @CarlyZzee
Keep up with all of Carly’s reviews here.
Carly Zinderman | Contributor