Swing And A MissWith episode two of Mary + Jane, producers Deborah Kaplan, Henry Elfont, and Snoop Dogg are starting to hit their stride. The jokes are funnier, the strands (of weed) are stronger, and the two leads are still superb. However, the show still misses too many marks for it to be truly excellent, and while episode two is a better start for the series, it doesn’t do enough to balance the misfire that was episode one.
The episode starts with our leads, Jordan and Paige, hanging out in their apartment. Jordan just finished having sex with a married couple—yes, a married couple!—and Paige, checking the reviews of their latest deliveries—which we never actually see—is curious what a threesome with a married couple is like. This bit of exposition, while hilarious, does nothing for the overall “point” of the series: Jordan and Paige becoming the “greatest ganjapreneurs on the East side.” On their official “Mary + Jane” website, one review reads, “Sorry, I decided to switch to the other girl who sells weed.” This sets forth a chain of events that are both cliché and, quite frankly, uneventful: Paige’s childhood rival comes to L.A., and is “the other girl who sells weed,” Grass Gurl. See, this childhood rival, Tanya Westford (played by Patty Guggenheim), is that friend you know who copies everything you do and gets more attention for it. The problem starts there: This has been done a million times before, and Mary + Jane adds nothing to this kind of narrative.
Much like episode one, “Girl On Gurl” has weak—and I mean weak—writing. The jokes, while certainly funnier than the first episode, still miss more often than they land. This is largely because Mary + Jane tries to deliver that dry/sarcastic/ironic kind of humor, yet fails spectacularly at it. The parodies of L.A. life—like when we’re introduced to Tanya for the first time at a joint that charges $15 to drink juice out of a baby bottle—are set up excellently, but the subsequent interactions are poorly conceived. Daniel Day-Lewis, the talking dog, is (yet again) hilarious, but he’s only seen once in the entire episode. (I understand the point isn’t the dog, but that dog is too funny. He needs a sketch comedy or something.) While the writing may be terrible, both Jordan and Paige nonetheless behave like realistic, three-dimensional people: Deborah Kaplan and Henry Elfont do a fantastic job with these two, but most other characters are cardboard cutouts of stereotypes, and they don’t get enough screen time for them to be relevant. Although it may be the point to mock these kinds of extremist types in L.A., their depictions are nowhere near as funny as the real kinds of people they are mimicking.
The depiction of these people are nowhere near as funny as the real kinds of people they are mimicking.
Scout Durwood (Jordan) and Jessica Rothe (Paige) are, again, magnificent. They are funny, sexy, and believable, even though the material they are working with may not be exactly that. Patty Guggenheim’s performance is fine, but the writing of her character, Tanya, is paper thin. Every other character introduced in this episode—the feminist librarian, Susan B. Anthony, the married couple, etc.—is incredibly flat. And the performances from these characters don’t fare any better, unfortunately. It’s a shame because many of the situations could be funny, but with poor writing and lackluster performances, they end up being cringeworthy and insipid.
With episode two, Mary + Jane leaves me with the biggest question: What happened to becoming the “greatest ganjapreneurs on the East side”? In the first episode, we were introduced to the “Green 15,” a prestige list of the best weed delivery services in L.A., and how bad Jordan and Paige wanted to get on that list. Well, at the conclusion of the first episode they didn’t make the list. What happened to that goal? Out the window, I suppose. In the first episode, we were introduced to their competition, Robbie, who made it on that list. At the end of the first episode, he was merely mentioned. What happened to this guy? Out the window, too, I guess.
And that’s Mary + Jane‘s greatest flaw: there’s no real connection between episodes—not yet, at least. Perhaps this comedy was meant to be more of a situational comedy, and if that’s the case, then fine. Still, that doesn’t give Deborah Kaplan, Henry Elfont, Snoop Dogg, and MTV a pass to present a completely unoriginal, bland comedy series simply because marijuana is suddenly so popular. If Jordan and Paige want to be the “greatest ganjapreneurs on the East side,” they certainly have a long way to go, and I’m neither invested nor convinced that they’ll be seen in such high regard.