I've Been This High BeforeEpisode three of Mary + Jane completely deters from the initial premise presented by its pilot episode. While writers Deborah Kaplan and Henry Elfont continue to service their leads well, the surrounding cast and situations are insipid and boring in comparison. This begs the question: What the hell going on in this show? Is this even a show with a string of structured, succeeding events, or a series of skits slapped together in a failed attempt at a sitcom? Unfortunately, episode three seems to confirm the latter.
“Sn**chelorette” sees our two heroines attending a bridal shower. Before making their way to the party, Jordan and Paige decide to stop at a local smoke shop to find a gift for Alyssa, Paige’s newly engaged friend (who happened to spring out of nowhere. Seriously, where did she come from?). After discussing their failed or eclectic love lives (Paige and Jordan, respectively), they both greet Mama J, the owner, who gives them a special lube. “It has weed in it,” Mama J confirms to the two spaced-out leads. “And it gives you a high that is so amazing you are able to connect with your inner self.” Mama J then instructs them to “only use a tiny drop” and “don’t feed it after midnight,” two very important warnings. Of course, once Jordan and Paige get to the bride’s party, they want to get high to coast through the event, but neither of them brought the weed, so they resort to the lube—and they use the entire bottle. By now, you might’ve guessed where this is all going: they can hear the thoughts of their—and others’—vagina. From there, “Sn**chelorette” divulges into a series of clichés that have not only been done before, but have been done better.
Yet here’s the thing about this episode: Yes, it’s trite, but it’s kind of refreshing in a way. See, hearing people’s thoughts due to either a superpower or some kind of mind/body altering substance is nothing new in entertainment. In fact, we can go as far back as Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Star Trek (if we want to talk television) or Exorcist II: The Heretic or The Chronicles of Riddick (if we want to talk film). Hell, this trope of telepathy probably dates even earlier than that, but these are just a couple of examples. The problem isn’t the telepathy itself, the problem is what happens/what’s being said as Jordan and Paige are using telepathy. So, Jordan and Paige gain telepathic powers because of this weed lube and are hearing the unfettered thoughts of everyone’s femininity through their vaginas. That’s kind of funny. What’s not funny, however, are the words—or thoughts, rather—that are coming from everyone’s lady parts.
Mary + Jane's biggest failing right now is its lack of identity.
Every word of dialogue here is the most unimaginative in, perhaps, all of television. You get the old lady who has lascivious, wild sex. You get the middle-aged woman who is dried up like a raisin. You get the teen who is unsure if she’s ready. And, of course, the crux of the episode, you get the friend who has slept with the bride’s groom. Paige, overhearing this albatross, is overwhelmed and conflicted: does she tell the bride or does she not. The attendees gather around to write advice cards for Alyssa. Everyone writes stereotypical phrases, but Paige, in some inexplicable fit of bitchiness, decides to write that someone in attendance slept with her groom—and Paige writes the person’s name, too. However, Paige is torn: does she leave the advice in the box or does she try to take it out. In classic, comedic fashion, Paige chooses to take the advice card, but, after finding her card, doesn’t know how to eradicate it: She opts to grab a nearby candle and light the card on fire—which then, subsequently, lights the other cards on fire because, of course, she dropped them all on the floor—stomping on the floor as if there were a spider, getting caught in the act by the bride, then attempting to cover it up with an “a bird flew in the window” lie.
This is boring. Each layer of this scenario has been seen and done a thousand times over, and Deborah Kaplan and Henry Elfont do nothing to reinvigorate this tired and overused situation. It doesn’t help that the writing is, once again, weak—but, interestingly, it’s weaker than episode two. There are very little jokes, and the jokes that are there simply don’t stick. The entire episode takes place in and around the bride’s house, but nothing about the house is distinctive. Alyssa is a flat, one-dimensional character that is incredibly dull whenever she’s onscreen. Everyone else is irrelevant, and they wouldn’t change the episode whether they were there or not. The only two saving graces of this episode were Jordan and Paige—which I’m counting as one—and the old lady who has tons of raunchy sex—and even that is uninspired.
Not much can be said about Scout Durwood and Jessica Rothe that hasn’t been said already. The chemistry between the two is excellent. While the writing for their characters remains merely passable, the performances by Durwood and Rothe are superb. The banter they share with each other and the other characters on screen is exceptional (even though the other characters pale in comparison). What else? Deborah Kaplan and Henry Elfont chose two great actresses to play the leads of this show, but stars don’t make up the entirety of the sky: Just because the two leads are great doesn’t mean they are going to save the entire show.
Mary + Jane‘s biggest failing right now is its lack of identity. It doesn’t know what it wants to be: it wants to be just a straight up comedy; it wants to be a weed show; it wants to be a sitcom; it wants to be a fem-com. It wants to be so many things, in fact, that it ends up being none of them. Sure, it has elements of each thing that it’s reaching for, but none of these pieces belongs to the same puzzle. Have you tried to force puzzle pieces together? They fit after a while of rigorous attempts, but the pieces themselves are so ruined that they can never stand on their own.
In a nutshell, Mary + Jane is lost. Each episode seems to veer further and further away from the initial premise presented in episode one that Jordan and Paige might as well not even call themselves weed dealers anymore. As it stands, Mary + Jane is the TV equivalent to David Gordon Green’s Pineapple Express: two friends hanging out, smoking tons of weed, getting thrust into complicated situations. “Do you know how many different ways I woke up this week? Monday, I woke up next to an investment banker. Tuesday, I woke up next to our mailwoman. Tuesday afternoon, I woke up next to our mailman.” What are you, Mary + Jane, Sex and the City? Make up your mind and fast: interest is starting to wane.