MJ’s cutie patootie stylist has come thru! He shows up on her birthday with the "summer bag", a red Birkin, that MJ’s been feigning for. MJ is gaga for it, but not for the price.
“How much is it?” she asks, knowing the answer (If I knew, she knew). She very reluctantly hands over her American Express to her shame-y stylist for a 30k swipe. “It’s an investment,” she rationalizes. Um… luxury goods depreciate the second you buy them, like cars.
How much is MJ making? I know she got a raise when she moved to Primetime, but is she balling like that? Or fronting that hard? A couple weeks ago, she was crying broke to CeCe. Was she actually cash strapped, or she just didn’t have the money for CeCe? (There’s a difference.)
Across town, Niecy is at work at the mall, flat-ironing a gorgeous head of hair. She’s actually really good at it, but as the potential client in the chair who declines to purchase an $130 flat iron because “I’d have to sell one of my kids” notes to Niecy, “you need to be doing hair, not selling one of these.” Message! About not purchasing things you can't afford and Niecy needing to do hair.
Niecy’s friends who work at the mall swing by to clown her about brown bagging her lunch and wearing the same clothes all the time. Niecy explains she has a growing son and she has to pay her grands to watch him. She actually sounds responsible. I’m proud of her. Her friends tell her “you need to work the mall”, i.e. offer your own store discount in exchange for using someone else’s.
Now MJ’s purchasing a new car, which admittedly, she needs. She’s been without one since the accident, and the girl does live in Atlanta. She rides out to “All I Do Is Win”, posturing like she’s in a hip-hop video, but the rapper, not the eye candy. It's her birthday and she got a new whip. This is beyond appropriate.
Her first stop? Mark’s house. He’s serious about going to Nigeria to report and has put his house on the market. That’s serious, serious.
He’s cleaning his home for a potential buyer. MJ limps thru the family room in pain. Her Loubs—also new—hurt her feet. She’s just been on a spree, huh? Mark tells her to blow dry her shoes to loosen them. Brilliant.
Anyway, MJ has shown up, hoping Mark acknowledges her birthday, which he doesn’t. He’s got a lot of his mind, and MJ, at 39, is playing games and won’t just tell him it’s her birthday to let him off the hook. Mid-convo with Mark, she gets a call from Patrick, who’s calling to say that their mom “had a flare up”, ie, she fell and bumped her head, and stayed overnight in the hospital. Oh, dear.
MJ shows up at the house to find Patrick making roasted carrot turmeric soup… and baking his famous triple fudge chocolate cake, “for Deja”, he says. It’s MJ’s favorite cake. He says he’ll save her a slice.
Then PJ walks in. He’s intown from LA to check on his mother. MJ thinks something is up, like her family is throwing her a surprise party later. She says she’s leaving and will be back that night. Patrick says he needs her around to work the night shift. MJ says she’ll be there to “help with Mom”.
At work, Patrick is at his desk, finishing orders when his bos sops by to ask if he wants to take a donought break. My donuts, his boss means drugs. Really Patrick? You back on drugs. It’s not crack, again, thank God, but whatever they’re doing.. Naw, just naw. I want to Tyra-yell at him, “we were rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!” Come on, Patrick, what kind of gateway-drugging you doing? You’re a recovering drug addict. Or… a drug addict. Are you in recovery if you are presently using drugs, even if it’s a different one from the one you were last addicted to?
The guys—not so much Patrick—pressure their co-worker Katie in to trying it The boss points out that Patrick used to be a “screw up” and now he’s a top-seller. Katie decides to try the plll since it worked for Patrick.
At SNC, Kara is showing Mark a package on Boko Haram and the kidnapped Nigerian girls.I love Mara for giving this issue attention on his show. Thank you, Mara.
It’s for Mark’s last show. He and Kara do a friendly, but professional good-bye, with lots of tension. He obviously doesn’t want to leave, but he feels he has to. I’ve quit a job I loved before. Calling it a bittersweet goodbye is cliché, but accurate. I get it, Mark. And I don’t envy you.
At her anchor desk. MJ is checking social media for validation. Oh, I’m sorry. For birthday wishes. Her fans have remembered the birthday that Mark and her family did not. Kara did. She rolls a (leaning) cake and presents into the TV studio. This is what friends are for. They are the family we get to choose.
A producer pulls MJ aside with a story idea… about PJ’s employer. She’s being accused of bid-rigging in Inglewood. SNC is considering doing an investigative report on it. MJ plays it offtlike it’s not a big deal, but she’s freaked out.
Kara takes snacks to her kids in the conference room at SNC while they do their homework. She’s having a good Mom day. She’s proud of herself. I am too. She’s trying really hard
Niecy’s shopping at Wet Seal with her friends on the employee discount. A conversation about a Drake concert turns into the one about bay daddies who don’t take care of their kids. One of the girls listens to the mothers complain and says that’s why she’s not having sex because “I like my freedom.” I ain’t mad at her.
MJ Is on air talking about “one of America’s truest treasures”: a cat. Later, she’s sitting in her new car with Kara and the kids clowning about the stuff she has to talk about now, like cats. But Kara wants to know how much the new Tesla was. MJ replies, “it pays for itself” and “its good for the environment”, ie, a lot. (Tesla's start at 101k, according to TrueCar.com) MJ tells Kara should buy one. She says she can’t because “I have them”, pointing to the kids in the backseat.
The kids are watching YouTube videos of people falling down stairs coated in butter. Kara doesn’t find it funny, probably because she’s an adult. MJ thinks it’s hysterical and tells them about a video of people stepping out of the shower onto a floor coated in baby oil.
When the kids are out of the car, MJ asks Kara how she’s doing. Kara says if she doesn’t have sex soon, she’s “going to break the shower head off.” Oh. MJ was asking about her live-in situation with her ex. Then MJ wants to know how Karafeels abot Mark leaving. Kara ain’t happy. They had a rhythm, and now she’s got to preplace him with a string of newbies auditioning for his spot. “It was easy money, now I actually gotta work for it.”
MJ offers up her home if Kara ever needs to crash. But first, she has to run off because he family has planed a surprise party for her. Kara ain’t so sure. She points out that she didn’t get an invite. “Maybe its just a family thing?” MJ wonders. She is dead set on this. Does she not realize she’s 39, and not, say, 10, or 40? No one is getting a surprise birthday for 39. But MJ insists there’s a party. She shows up at her family home waiting for someone to yell “Surprise!” and no one does.
PJ wanders into the family room and wonders what MJ is doing there. Mom is upstairs sleeping, Patrick is home and dad went to pick Niecy up at the mall. “You guys really forgot my birthday?” PJ apologizes and says he was caught up with work?
“Oh like, bid-rigging?” MJ asks.
PJ says, “so?” He’s tried of “white business telling us to play one game while they play another.” PJ says he has a foolproof plan and $25 million coming to him. He’s going to beat the system and put the family “back on the road to greatness. “I’m just following the American Way,” PJ says.
I feel you, PJ, I do. But not like this.
MJ tells him to “get out while you can. You’re the fall guy. You show up just in time to do her time... What do you think happens to mom when she finds out you’re in jail. It will kill her. Is the money worth that to you?”
Questions that need answers. People often get mad at MJ for keeping it 100, all the time. And yeah, sometimes it’s just annoying because she doesn’t know when to stop. But sometimes, like now, that 100 is so necessary.
“This doesn’t make you a hero, it makes you a criminal,” MJ tells PJ before going to check on her mother.
MJ is bathing her mother, but zoning out while. Mom says she doesn’t know why the family fusses over her so. “Y’all treat me like I’m dying,” she says. Later when MJ is putting her mother to bed, her mother says her leg hurts. MJ massages her calf and Mom tells her show she spent so much time not dancing, even though she liked it, because she thought she looked silly. She didn’t want people to laugh at her. She tells MJ, “whenever you get a chance to dance, dance.”
The wisdom older people depart when they’re ill is interesting. My friend’s father fell ill sometime last year. His advice to her: “I spent a lot of time being afraid to go after my dreams because I didn’t think I was smart enough. I was. You are too.” Or something like that. This one time my dad was sick and he told me not to drink. It took almost 20 years for me to understand why he said it, and for me to give it up.
When Mom is good and tucked in, she wishes MJ a happy birthday. She didn’t forget.
Patrick is at work and doing more drugs. He makes me want to use a word I said I was going to stop using. I’m so mad at him.
MJ is still at the house when Niecy and Dad show up. Niecy has bags and bags and bags, including a gift for MJ.’s birthday, MJ ain’t happy about that. She’s annoyed that Niecy just got her first check and spent half of it on stuff she didn’t really need. Um, who is going to be annoyed with MJ for the same thing? Cause we've just watched her spend about 130k in a day.
Dad comes back in to break up the mounting argument. Niecy storms off… and with MJ’s gift. LOL.
“I don’t always like saying the hard stuff,” MJ tells her dad.
Dad: then don’t sometimes.
Dad tells MJ to stop punishing Niecy for having kids out of wedlock. “They’re here,” he says. “Maybe she didn’t do it the right way, but she’s progressing.”
MJ admits to her father that she had an abortion 6 years ago. “I did the reasonable, responsible thing. Because I couldn’t tlook at my dad and have him see a burden, a pathetic burden.” She says that if she had the courage, she could have been like Niecy and Patrick “and let other people carry my load.”
She adds, “Im pissed my entire family forgot my birthday and I could have been at home blowing out candles with my six year old.”
Ouch. I love Mara for this. Because we've just watched this beautiful woman buy all these things to give the appearance of having it all, she she flaunts them so well. But the things she really wants-- a family that makes her the center of attention for a day, and the child she aborted-- elude her. She's 130k in the hole, and the hole in her that makes her lash out at everyone around her (misery loves company) she was trying to fill with stuff is just as deep as it was before she splurged. Message!
Dad hugs her. Not what I was expecting. But the best move ever. He apologizes, for forgetting her birthday and for more.
MJ gets home to find Mark in her kitchen with a mini-cake and candles. In a super cute scene, they sit on her dining table and blow out her candles.
Mark says he already has an offer on the house(!) and found a production crew in London that he will meet soon before heading off to Nigeria.
“You’re not scared?” MJ asks.
“I’m scared as hell,” Mark says. “But it really scares me scared not to do what I want to do. But it feels so great to also live in the moment.”
I’m in tears. Tears. (And the Lionel Richie song ain’t helping.)
I get it Mark. I. Get. It.
My biggest fears are failure and being a failure. I have really high expectations and I consistently don’t meet them. Every day I think I’m a failure. Every. Single. Day. But I get up the next day and try again because giving up and resigning to failure is even scarier than trying and failing. So maybe giving up is my biggest fear. I dunno. I’m going to have to process that further. Ugh! Why does this show bring up so much sh—for me?
MJ switches subjects. She says Mark hurt her feelings when he said she wasn’t a real journalist. But part of the reason she will miss him is, “you never did tell me what I wanted to hear.”
Mark apologizes. “I love you, Mary Jane, and I don’t know everything.”
The following morning, he does he last show, then says his goodbyes at the office party.
This. This here. Is how you send a character off a show. Mark wasn’t even a major player on the show, like say Kara, but I am complete tears, first over his honesty to MJ, and now again, at his speech here. This man is a great actor. And so are the actors around him, the mix of awe and resentment on their faces perfectly captures when you quit a job.
The pair close out the night in a 80s/90s dance off, that requires stretching first. She is 39, after all. Love it!
That was a good-goodbye.
What did you think of the last night's episode?