Mary + Jane
TV Series Review
You've come a long way, television. But not always in a good way.
Case in point: MTV's Mary + Jane.
There are no characters actually named Mary or Jane in this fresh-from-the-farm show. No, the name refers to the "mostly legal prescription delivery service" run by small-business owners Jordan and Paige in the era of legalized medicinal marijuana.
In other words, they sell weed. And even as they hope their entrepreneurial adventure will also grow like one, they're not above using a bit of the merchandise for their own recreational purposes.
Have a Toke and a Smile?
Mary + Jane is, if nothing else, an illustration of how accepted MTV apparently feels marijuana use is these days. It's hard to imagine that drug dealers would be so believably innocent back in the 1980s "Just Say No" era.
But in Paige, that's exactly what we're given: A sweet, almost naive waif of a pot-pusher who looks as though she could work as a Disney princess. Oh, she's not innocent: Not by a long shot. But she does, at least try wait to hold to the occasional moral line. She says that she doesn't want to start lighting up before noon. She generally prefers monogamous relationships to casual hookups, it would seem. And she tries to discourage best friend/business partner Jordan from sleeping with Mary + Jane customers, providing their clientele with an added perk.
But Paige herself does all these things in the first episode, suggesting she has the willpower of the average goldfish. Still, at least she does pause a wee bit before barreling through the latest moral barrier.
Jordan, in contrast, never takes her foot off the gas. She's the irresponsible firecracker of the pair, the girl who, as a child, would light up a joint in the principal's office (while Paige would at least wait till they got to the girls' bathroom). She wants Mary + Jane to be a flaming success, and she doesn't care how many customers she has to sleep with to make it happen.
Bent Out of Joint
For decades, MTV was the reigning entertainment tastemaker for youth culture. Even when music television stopped caring so much about music, it still retained its buzzy throne through such shows as Beavis and Butthead, The Real World and Jersey Shore. The network's executives surely want to return MTV to that familiar seat. And so they've us the same sort of show that MTV has delivered repeatedly for lo these many decades: something they assume kids will love and parents will hate.
Naturally, MTV built the show around marijuana, the acceptance and use of which has skyrocketed in recent years. But the network didn't stop there. The sexual ethics shown are pretty abysmal. Language is atrocious, with all but (frequent) f-words uncensored. If this was a movie, Mary + Jane would likely earn an R-rating. But MTV suggests that the show's suitable for those 14 and up.
But I wonder whether this strategy paradoxically illustrates just how far MTV has fallen behind the times. Some studies suggest that teens are indulging less in risky behavior, such as drinking, drugs and sex, than their parents did. And speaking of their parents, teens tend to be closer to them these days than they have been in a long time.
So while teenage rebellion may always be in vogue to some extent, it almost seems quaint to do it through a choice of television shows these days.