Immediately after the first few minutes of watching MARY + JANE in their Eastside Los Angeles-hipster apartment, inventing words like “ganjapreneurs,” I decided that the show was basically Portlandia, but set in L.A. The impression continued through the next 30 minutes of the show.
Clearly of millennial age, it’s unclear as yet how Mary +Jane manage to afford their adorable bungalow apartment and what money they would to invest in being “semi-legal” drug dealers. It’s also unclear whether or not the writers of the show like L.A. and are mocking it in a good way, or just using tired clichés to rip on the city. Also, while I understand that it would be a bit too on the nose for the owners of a marijuana delivery service company to actually be named Mary and Jane, it for sure doesn’t make sense that their names are Jordan and Paige. In fact, I didn’t even realize it until I looked up the characters to write this review. I just thought of them as “the blonde one” and “the brunette one.”
So far only one episode has aired, yet the duo manages to riff on lifestyle bloggers, food trends, man buns, vision boards, Tracy Anderson, random pets and celebrity lifestyles. Given that celebrity lifestyle seems to be pretty fair game for public mockery, it still felt a little false. And the characters themselves are too generically hipster to be believable when they rebel against their surrounding culture. Like Jenee, whose name is apparently really Jenny, and is, for reasons unnamed or unknown, the arbiter of cool culture in the neighborhood.
I don’t think it’s just that I’m older than much of MTV’s viewership. I still love Awkward and Scream and Teen Wolf, shows that are all from an even younger point of view. I think it’s because at any age, I’ve never enjoyed stereotyping or clichés. And Mary + Jane stereotypes everything and anyone, including Mary Jane.
While the show could be an opportunity for the writers to make marijuana selling seem like NBD, and even advocate for the integration of pot into society at large, the girls are half ashamed of their new career path and tend to focus on other elements of clichéd L.A. culture, like a love of toast. The thing is, if you’re super “L.A.,” you don’t eat carbs. Instead, you order a salad with dressing on the side and don’t eat the dressing. Avocado toast is just something you brag about as though it is something more exciting than smearing avocado on toast. But plain toast is something no one would go for, so although it’s an over-the-top element of those that identify as foodies, it doesn’t work because foodies don’t like plain toast. That avocado or ricotta has got be on top. And the people that don’t eat carbs don’t eat toast either. Unless it’s burnt and accompanied by caviar.
The saving grace is that unlike Portlandia that draws extensively on tiresome Saturday Night Live humor, elongating scenes until they stop being funny, is that Mary + Jane moves on quickly. Maybe it’s because us millennials don’t have the patience to watch anything for more than a few seconds at a time, I found each scene to be enjoyably brief, even if a little tiresome. In fact, the highlight of the show is when Paige sleeps with a customer and he is delighted to discover that she’s not actually a prostitute, so he doesn’t have to pay her and she actually wanted to have sex with him, despite the rumors on the internet.
In other ways, the show went out of its way to drive home points on subplots, like the pair’s first celebrity customers, a bizarre mashup of Brangelina and their child army. The pair spot a bunch of awards on an elegant fireplace before a rainbow of kids the same age march into the room. Then there are security measures before Jordan is allowed to view the celebrity couple—a chicken and a skeleton. Read into that if it’s not too obvious.
It’s hard to believe that the writers will be able to come up with more Hollywood stereotypes and generalizations before the next episodes, but producer Snoop Dogg himself is rumored to be making an appearance, so maybe that will help.
Despite my confusion and reservations about the show, I’m still looking forward to giving it another go. The pacing is right on cue so I never found the show boring, but possibly too predictable in not the right ways. Stoner culture in television and film is either taken too seriously or portrayed as something to make fun of. In this instance, marijuana isn’t really the focus of the show, so maybe it will offer something else instead.
Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
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.
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Carly Zinderman | Contributor