If the Sept. 5 premiere and second episode of “Mary + Jane” had you thinking “puff puff pass,” you are not alone. But the weed-centric comedy series that follows Silverlake-dwelling hipster besties Paige (Jessica Rothe) and Jordan (Scout Durwood) has finally found its rhythm, and it’s fantastically fun. So for those who’ve passed on this special strain, it could be time to take another hit.
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The rookie series reaches its halfway point Monday (Oct. 4), with its best episode yet. The now well-established chemistry between the two lead women, plus a surprise guest star boost from Lance Reddick of “The Wire” and “Fringe” — means “Rehab” goes down like ganja-infused candy.
At first, it feels like nothing of substance is happening, and then the circumstances around Paige and Jordan smoothly move from being hilarious, to deeply emotional, and then even a little scary.
Since the show is executive produced by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfonte — the writing duo that brought us one of the best teen romantic comedies of all time, “Can’t Hardly Wait” — we’ve been holding out hope that this pot-trepeneurial show would start blazing eventually — and it does, now that it’s stretching beyond its initial, kitsch premise (two white chicks deal weed).
Kaplan, who grew up watching the marijuana culture change and grow in Los Angeles, explains to us that the weed industry has actually always been prominently female. “We started to read about more and more about women in the business,” she says. “It was the first business where women were on equal footing with men. And in terms of delivery and sales, women were actually moving it further ahead.”
Joining the team as a producer, and penning the show’s theme song, is Snoop Dogg, arguably the definitive voice on California weed culture. “The story is so on point,” Snoop says. “I have delivery girls just like them, I’m like That’s good business! Because we keep buying! The writing is about right now. And it’s beautiful that we can have women on this show that is so ahead of the curve.”
The show’s stars are admittedly newbies to this weed expertise. “I grew up in Kansas City, so the weed was like, meh…” Durwood says. Moving to Los Angeles, “It was like going from grain alcohol to wine.”
Rothe, on the other hand, comes from what Snoop calls “the new weed heaven,” Colorado. “Growing up I was such a goody two-shoes,” Rothe says. “But now I’ve been home, and I’ve been to these dispensaries, and I walk in and it’s completely legal. The vernacular and the amount of information you can find is amazing.”
Rothe brings up a point aside from the feminist assumptions that make “Mary + Jane” work: Specifically the very real medical and real-world benefits that we’re so used to waving away, or rolling our eyes about. There’s much more to weed than just getting high and eating Oreos over cat videos on YouTube. As we learned in episode 3, weed lube is real. “There are even suppositories,” Kaplan says. Cannabis is used to treat everything from cramps to sexual dysfunction, and those are conversations that can’t happen as long as the stigma remains, or merely sound like fast-talk from stoners.
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Just like VICE and Viceland’s campaign to advocate for responsible weed use publicly — to drive away the negative stereotypes and mistruths that have sprung up around the war on drugs, and bring those benefits to the people that truly need them — “Mary + Jane” takes its mission to normalize its use, and defuse the hyper situation that surrounds it, very seriously. We’re just glad the show has finally found its high note.
“Mary + Jane” airs on Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.