Why MTV's new weed comedy 'Mary + Jane' fails to be funny

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"We're drug dealers," yells Paige. She and Jordan are standing in line for the newest hipster restaurant in East L.A., MNNA, a place that sells only plain toast. "Well, we're a mostly legal prescription delivery service," yells Jordan after she realizes that someone is listening to them.


What a groundbreaking joke about being a marijuana supplier—I'm kidding.

I wish MTV’s new weed-centric comedy Mary + Jane was actually funny. During the half-hour Monday night premiere I didn’t laugh once. The jokes were cliché, the casting left me wondering if Los Angeles was really that white, and the lack of chemistry between the main characters Paige (Jessica Rothe) and Jordan (Scout Durwood) made their supposed best friendship unbelievable. It’s hard to separate the satire from just plain lazy ideas.

The premise of the show is great in theory, like a Broad City meets High Maintenance meets Portlandia. One of the first comedies delivered at a time when recreational marijuana is legal in four states and medical marijuana is legal in 24, Mary + Jane focuses on two women with a thriving weed business in a white male-dominated industry.

Best friends and "ganjapreneurs" Paige and Jordan—who often blurt out that they are "drug dealers," only to quickly follow up that they're "a mostly legal prescription delivery service"—ride around East L.A. delivering weed and trying out trendy hipster-filled restaurants while getting laid and attempting to get over their exes. See? Very relatable. Rapper-turned-IRL weed entrepreneur Snoop Dogg is one of the executive producers. And the chilled-out theme song is something you might really want to listen to when you’re getting high.

To be fair, the creators Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont are known to make things that you will either love or hate, like their cult film about an all-girl rock-and-roll band Josie and the Pussycats. Yet while Josie and the Pussycats felt self-aware in poking fun at boy bands and MTV, Mary + Jane feels out of touch, using marijuana and hipster jokes without nuance. If Mary + Jane is supposed to be catered towards millennials who actually smoke marijuana, then it fails hard in its delivery.

Did I mention the pilot is white? It’s unclear if the lack of people of color (only landing roles as background characters or one-liners) is intentional or just careless. While East Los Angeles is over 97% Latino, in Mary + Jane it seems to be the world of white hipsters in fedoras paying $7 for a piece of bread (yes, that really happens). This might be a way to poke fun at the rising white trendiness of the neighborhood, but in reality it’s helping to whitewash the marijuana industry even more. Blacks and Latinos are being shut out of America’s booming weed industry due to unfair jail sentences, but does that mean you exclude them from television? They smoke, too.


On the show, the way to be a reputable delivery service is to land a selfie celebrity stoner that you deliver to, instead of…having good products. Paige and Jordan's goal is to: "On my honor, we will be the greatest ganjaprenuers of the Eastside or we will die trying."

Then, there’s the whole prostitution storyline that of course obviously had to be brought up because these are drug dealers who are women. Jordan has sex with a guy who is also a customer, but she doesn’t make him pay because then it would be like prostitution (they have a strict no-sex-with-clients policy). Later, a review is written about them on a popular blog Weeder LA defining their weed delivery service Mary + Jane as “going the extra mile,” clearly referring to them as sleeping with their customers. Then the other dealer Paige sleeps with a creepy customer to help get over her ex-boyfriend, but the guy offers to pay her, thinking she slept with him for extra money, saying: “Aw…you slept with me because you wanted to?”


In an interview with Indiewire, series co-creator Kaplan said:

“I think at a certain point we a little bit forgot that it was a pot show. I think I said something to Harry, around Episode 7, I was like, 'We have a pot show. Nobody is smoking any weed.' There is literally a shot in the season finale where everybody lights up at the same time. I was like, 'I feel like we are not honoring our concept.' It just became a show. It became a show about these two girls doing this crazy thing and getting into all these adventures and it was really not about the weed.”


Kaplan is right. That’s exactly what Mary + Jane is, a show that uses weed and hipster satire as background noise, while taking the audience on adventures that are easy to forget and harder to connect with. It's hard to say that anyone who actually smokes marijuana will find this funny, even if they are high AF.

Tahirah Hairston is a style writer from Detroit who likes Susan Miller, Rihanna's friend's Instagram accounts, ramen and ugly-but cute shoes.