BET’s hottest show “Being Mary Jane” is back with Season 4 airing January 10 at 10:00 p.m. This time around Mary Jane Paul takes her love life and career to New York. In a new city,will there be new drama for MJ? Fans can only hope Mary Jane’s personal and professional life will continue to keep them on the edge of their seats.
The romantic drama “Being Mary Jane” starring Gabrielle Union introduced fans to the complex, driven, smart, beautiful and successful TV news anchor Mary Jane Paul who occupied herself with her family, career and love life-dating a married man played by Omari Hardwick. In past seasons, we have seen the twists and turns in BMJ, from fierce competition in the broadcasting-corporate world, to dealing with the death of a friend, burdens of her family and extortion.
The plot thickens in Season 4 when executive producer Kara Lynch (Lisa Vidal) helps friend and co-worker Mary Jane land a gig as correspondent on “Great Day USA,” a national morning news show in New York City. Mary Jane makes the move to achieve her lifetime career goal of becoming a national lead anchor. At “Great Day” Mary Jane meets her idol, veteran lead anchor Ronda Sales (Valarie Pettiford), and realizes that working closely with your heroes isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Things are further complicated when her old nemesis, Justin Talbot (Michael Ealy), appears as a new producer. Along with the new job and city, Mary Jane resolves to start fresh in every way possible, including her love life. She quickly falls for Lee Truitt (Chiké Okonkwo), successful standup comedian from the UK who tests MJ’s preconceived notions about what (or who) she needs in her life. However, back in Atlanta, the Pattersons deal with the after effects from Niecy (Raven Goodwin) being tased by a police officer. With MJ in New York, they grow closer as they realize their new roles within the family and do what they can to step up to the plate for one another.
From recovering addictions, to trying to take care of your child and dealing with a brutal altercation with a Police Officer, Mary Jane will not be the only Patterson trying to control the effects of her life.
Last season reflected an authentic social and racial narrative of Police Brutality among Black men and women. On bringing that narrative to the screen Goodwin said, “this season is just the aftermath of that, especially with social media, it’s all on the internet. She gets money from the police, her life changes in instant. There is access to see how this changes Niecy’s life through social media and the recordings.”
Although, Goodwin’s character deals with a variety of problems, she shows resilience. Her character is independently-minded, but, seemingly dependent upon her family. Niecy’s current problem adds to the tension in the family, however brings them together absent of Mary Jane. “That’s what the family’s dynamic is about,” she states. “Even though tensions are high and we are fighting, when something tragic happens, that’s a time we show up as a family. The Patterson’s dynamic is strong, we have our ups-and-downs, but we come from a background of leaders and strong people, like my grandfather Paul Patterson, Sr. (Richard Roundtree). My dad Patrick Patterson (Richard Brooks) and I happen to break the cycle with having young kids at a young age and drug abuse, but we come from a strong background.”
BMJ is centered on strong empowered Black women who are determined. Matriarch Helen Patterson (Margaret Avery) who is overprotective and battling lupus is the back bone to her family with a no non-sense demeanor. Mary and Kara are successful and professional women who embody alpha-female roles and are set on having it all despite setbacks. The series shows MJ’s peers, frenemies and enemies as strong-willed, driven figures. Placing their careers and love life at the front and center, while Niecy leans on the opposite end as a single mother living with her grandparents and dealing with the result of being victim of police brutality, however, she maintains a strength of her own.
On the recurring theme of the alpha-female, “now there are so many women in positions of power, it’s one of those things becoming common to see at this point and it should be, because we make the world go round at the end of the day,” Goodwin said.
“Especially on Being Mary Jane, you have women like Helen Patterson, who is this elite Black excellence type of woman who raised Mary Jane to be the same way and then you have me on the other side of the spectrum who comes from these women who are successful, but I’m trying to find my way. Its real-life and that is what I love about being on the show.”
From being a struggling young single mother, reconnecting with her mother played by Jill Scott and repairing her relationship with father and now discovering her passion as a cosmetologist, viewers have to wonder how Niecy will continue to find her voice in the upcoming season.
Niecy’s perception of herself and where she is trying to grow personally and professionally this season is in complete contrast to her aunt Mary Jane, “I think why people love and connect with Niecy so much is due to the fact that there are a lot of Niecys’ who aspire to be Mary Jane one day. I think no matter how much Niecy does not want to admit it, she looks up to her aunt, she wants to live a life like hers and just like everyone else, it has been a lot harder for her to get a head start.”
Unlike MJ, who continues on her quest to find ‘Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now’, Niecy is still focused on her present relationships with her children’s fathers. “Niecy is still hung-up on trying to get these baby daddies to step up. I want her to move on personally as her friend, because I feel like I am her friend,” she confesses. “She is still struggling with Dante and Cameron while trying to figure out where she wants to be and what she wants for her kids. Her kids are the first thing in mind, I don’t think she is in love with anybody right now, but I think she wants the best for them and a family dynamic for her children.”
The characters on Being Mary Jane are often shown as flawed with positive attributes. On the reception she receives from fans based on Niecy, “I get so much love. I’ll get “don’t have no more babies” she laughs. It is love and family, when they see me out and about they treat me like family because the character is so familiar and everyone knows a Niecy and I think they feel like I am really her when they see me.”
“I bring a little of my sass to the character, for sure. It is a natural character. In situations, you have to bring yourself to someone like that, otherwise it’s not going to be organic.”
On working with veteran actors, “it’s amazing and always good to see people work and be inspired. I always say no matter what I am doing or what I am shooting, at the end of day, I’m 24-years-old and these people have been doing this longer than I have been.” “I’m a student who is observing and watching them at work. I am more than elated to work with these people. I didn’t get a chance to work with Michel Ealy, but I’ve met Chiké, Valarie and so many beautiful people.”
“What I love about the show is that we have ‘Love & Hip Hop: New York’ reality star Cardi B coming on this season, who literally started from nothing and now she gets a chance to shine on our show, it’s really exciting. I feel like this season is going to be groundbreaking.”
Similar to many Black television series, art is imitating life. “Being Mary Jane” has yet to shy away from social issues. “From jump, the TV movie (90-minute pilot) we did, I felt like ‘Being Mary Jane’ has always brought up very important conversations.” “Everything from love, sex, marriage, financial intelligence, to sex trafficking, we talk about what our people need to hear and cover almost every topic that is going on in the world. Our show is unique in its own right for that.” “Watching ‘Being Mary Jane,’ you will learn something, I’ve learned things just by reading the script even to her quotes.”
Mara Brock Akil will no longer be the showrunner for the BET hit due to a new deal with Warner Bros. Will Packer (Think Like A Man 1&2 and Ride Along 1&2) signed on as executive producer with Erica Shelton-Kodish as the new showrunner for the series. Akil brought so much raw-reality to this series, viewers can only expect the same measure of drama with things going forward with Packer who is a powerhouse in his own right. BMJ will be written by Shelton-Kodish, Rebecca Boss, Chris Masi, Josef Sawyer and Angel Dean Lopez and directed by Mario Van Peebles and Kat Candler.
On her thoughts of Packer coming on as executive producer, “I love him and it is amazing energy, just dope and it really speaks volumes when you have someone so dope like Will Packer a part of the team, its good stuff, I love Will Packer.”
Rapper Dave East stars in the first episode “Getting Nekkid” in Season 4 of “Being Mary Jane” with a new beginning, love interest and unexpected setbacks.
Being Mary Jane airs Tuesday’s nights at 10 p.m. on BET.