The premise of Being Mary Jane is that its titular character, played by Gabrielle Union, always has a lot going on, in addition to being Black and female. Her relationships are always complicated and in a state of disarray. She is constantly competing in her career as an on-air broadcast personality. And her family has thrown its share of curveballs as well. Her brother Patrick (Richard Brooks) is a recovered drug addict who walked a rocky road towards sobriety. His daughter, Niecy (Raven Goodwin) is a single mom of two who is known for her stubborn self-centeredness and irresponsibility, until very recently. This season has seen Niecy entering what looks a lot like glow-up season.
In slow motion, things began to change for Neicy after she was unjustly tasered by a police officer at the end of season 3. It was an incident that was clearly motivated by race, and she struggled to cope with what happened. A settlement from the city worth $150,000 certainly seemed to help, though. But what could have been a silver lining for Neicy — she claimed to be putting the money in a trust fund for her kids, but this wasn’t true — quickly became another rain cloud. She splurged on clothes and bottle service. She bought her daughter’s father a new car. And things went really far south after she was involved in a fight at a nightclub, and it went viral online. By clapping back on Twitter, Niecy violated the terms of her settlement and was forced to give back the money. She was back where she started, broke and jobless with two children.
Here’s the thing: throughout the entire series, Niecy has always been able to rely on her father, grandparents, or her wealthy aunt, Mary Jane, for stability. She and her two children still live with her grandparents. Her father often steps in to provide impromptu babysitting services, and I’m sure she has received enough cash from Mary Jane to pay a year’s worth of tuition. Meanwhile, she made very small strides to be in charge of her own life. Niecy has spent most of the show unemployed and unmotivated. But this season, things are finally starting to change.
After a heart-to-heart with her dad about his racial justice activism — activism he is invested in because of what happened to Niecy — she gets motivated. She is working as a hair stylist in a salon, an interest she’s had for years, but never took seriously. Not only does she enjoy her work, she is finally able to provide for her children and family. She isn’t bringing home a ton of cash, but she’s finally taking responsibility for her own actions.
What is more beautiful is that Niecy is also trying to share the wealth. She started a babysitting system with her friend Amika (Marshay Weaver), who is also a single mom who can’t afford childcare. With her kids taken care of, and no longer such a burden on her family, Niecy can fully commit to her job. On last night’s episode, she gave Amika money to get her electricity service restored. And that’s just the beginning.
When one of Niecy’s clients is pulled over while driving and fined $300 for not having her son in a car seat, Mary Jane’s niece sees this as a business opportunity for her and Amika. Using Twitter to promote the endeavor, Niecy helps Amika to start a small business renting out her old carseats to parents who can’t afford expensive car seats or huge fines. Instead, they can pay $30 for quick trips, bringing in another stream of income for Amika.
To see Niecy prospering and sharing her success with someone else for a change is honestly beautiful. The invaluable lesson in her character is that despite the pushing and pulling by everyone around to get your shit together, the glow-up has to happen on your own time.