Being Mary Jane’s explosive two-part season finale featured a breakup (Gary Dourdan’s Sheldon is no longer in the picture), a makeup (Mary Jane needs Kara if she’s going to rise in the ranks at SNC!) and a tempting primetime job offer for its titular character.
There’s also the season-long matter of whether Mary Jane would be able to move on after ending her relationship with David (Stephen Bishop). Then, just as Mary Jane thought she had finally healed—thanks in part to many glasses of merlot—she overheard a conversation between her BFF Lisa (Latarsha Rose) and David that ended with a literal crash as Mary Jane ran her car into a tree. In this exclusive blog post, creator and head writer Mara Brock Akil reveals why she ended the season on such a dramatic note and tells us what’s next for Mary Jane when it comes to finding a balance between being content and striving for more.
I decided to end season 2 of Being Mary Jane that way because it is suspenseful. That’s just TV 101. We’ll be able to set up season 3 even stronger in order to deal right where we left off. Our series deals with the minutiae—how you put one foot in front of the other in every aspect of your life. We’ve piled a lot onto Mary Jane’s plate and the series as a whole is watching her unpack it.
I think a lot of people remember life in chunks, so that’s influenced the structure of the show. Mary Jane will always remember the year she had the affair. Season 2 is the year she and David broke up, and she met Sheldon. And she froze her eggs. She did the “Talk Black” thing and she got the promotion. Those were the highlights. But more deeply, I wanted to explore the idea of what it looks like to let go in season 2. Sometimes that means you have to take two steps backward before you can take one step forward.
I knew that the first half of the season had to illustrate two steps backward and I did that by having Mary Jane jump right into life after her break up. She had her dinner party and she tried to fix her brother’s life. Then, we got to find out all this information about why she couldn’t let go of David. The audience found out she and David aborted a child together. Mary Jane has a lot of fortitude, but she has all this heartache and a lot of anger. It came out in her relationships this season, like with her niece. Mary Jane fussed a lot with Niecy—if only she could hear her own words. So many times, we can tell the truth to other people, but we can’t say the truth to ourselves. The drinking was part of that, too. It’s cool and socially acceptable to have a drink after you’re doing a segment on sex trafficking and but uh oh, you can’t drink at home and hide the bottle under the sink where your niece can find it. It’s funny—if you notice, I have a commentary on drugs of all kinds in the series. I have commentary on alcohol, on weed, on prescription drugs (and in the next season, we’re tackling Adderall).
I didn’t know if people would relate to this season. A lot of times, people want the sexy—was the substantive stuff going to work? I knew it in my spirit, but going for the heavy stuff did make me really nervous. I loved the black beauty panel on Mary Jane’s show, and seeing how people started conversations about that on social media. It’s important to know you’re not just serving yourself when you’re doing television and seeing that people connected to the material made me really happy.
I’m excited about seeing those conversations continue in season 3—it will be all about how she deals with the betrayal of her best friend and the man she loved. How will she move on from that, while holding on to the lessons she’s learned? There are some huge surprises coming next season that I don’t want to give away… Just know that Mary Jane will deal with a lot. She’s trying to figure out whether she still wants it all.