During last week's episode, Mary Jane (Gabrielle Union) gets into a heated exchange with Lee (Chiké Okonkwo) outside of her hotel. It's a conversation that should've ended with a dramatic door slam. I immediately thought, MJ, when are you going to find a home?
This week, in episode 3, titled "Getting Real," she begins searching for just that. "Private elevator, killer view of Manhattan, I feel like I'm home already," she remarks as her brother, Paul Jr. (B.J. Britt) shows her a new gazillion-dollar listing.
It's the first time we've seen Paul this season. The kiddo has finally found a productive groove for his ambitious yet impatient temperament: a career in luxury real estate.
Back in the office, Justin's (Michael Ealy) presence as a senior producer means the boys' club is back in full force. The men are now running the show, though Ronda (Valarie Pettiford) still holds some rank.
In a meeting, MJ pitches a segment idea and it's given to another coworker. "We like her interview style," Justin says. Asshole. Ronda nods in agreement with him, and you can't help but feel that she and Justin are in cahoots. Later, MJ goes to Garrett (Ashton Holmes) to ask him about her work. Translation: What the hell is wrong with my interview style? It's an admirable moment. Instead of sitting at her desk fuming, she makes a bold step and simply asks her boss, "Why?"
Garrett calls his catty senior producer into his office. Justin describes MJ's interview demeanor as "cold, judgmental, and haughty." Oh, hell no. Is he describing her interview style or her? Garrett agrees. MJ is taken aback.
The solution? "Give them a story only you can do," Kara (Lisa Vidal) advises during a pep talk.
Later that night MJ and Lee are back at the home-tel. The woman is focused; papers are strewn across the bed of old story ideas from her archives. She’s digging for a story. Like an adorable puppy, Lee wants her attention.
He asks MJ what she’s doing and she describes the pile of papers as her most treasured possession. “Are you sure? What about this?” he says, raising up a swirly magenta-colored vibrator. “Oh, Nick," she says. "No. Nick has been a constant companion, but Nick can be replaced.”
Record scratch. Let’s pause for a second. Her vibrator’s named is Nick. Nick. Is there a litmus test for sex toy names? An unrelated image of Nick Viall's face immediately pops up in my head. This visual is not okay.
MJ is distracted by Lee's presence. She’s desperate to find a story...inspiration...something! Yet bae’s reality TV-watching is getting annoying. A woman is shouting from the television. He’s also an aggressive stirrer. He pours himself a little tea and MJ fumes at the sound of the spoon knocking against his porcelain cup. The sound vexes me too.
“Enjoying your tea party?” she asks. "Coffee is the only way to go and black as it should be,” she says.
Lee the comedian then delivers my favorite word of the episode, “MalcolmXpresso.” The man is deliciously cheesy and I appreciate it.
On the telly, Mercedes Wilkerson, played by the inimitable Cardi B, appears on the screen again in a bad blonde wig, on the show “Family Brawlers.” Inspiration strikes!
“She’s a trainwreck,” Kara says the next day after MJ pitches a segment to "humanize" her for the Great Day, USA demo. She then convinces Kara, who gets it greenlit. Except there's one caveat, she’s working with Justin.
“Thanks to you we’re now saddled with the inglorious task of transforming a hoodrat into respectable morning TV,” he says. Ugh, I really hate this guy.
Things heat up later per usual with Lee. The two visit a sex shop. Somewhere between the pastel-colored plastic penises, anal beads, and candles, our lad confesses he likes "A little bit of this,” he says as if jabbing a finger into an invisible, airborne butthole. Our lad likes butt play, and MJ is clearly uneasy with it.
Back at the ranch, MJ dives in. Literally. She gives Lee exactly what he asked for. He’s satisfied, but she rushes into the bathroom to wash her ahem “stink finger.” Her words, guys. Not mine.
The big day has finally arrived. “Mercedes is here,” MJ alerts Justin. He hands her a piece of paper with questions he approves of. “Oh, I’m gonna go with my own questions,” MJ responds. Trivia: In addition to breaking necks and snatching wigs on her TV show, Mercedes also has a swimwear line. And Justin the Jerk has made her entire segment focused on only that. No serious questions about feminism, Black womanhood...you know the stuff MJ does best.
Mercedes is rude, and the segment is a disaster. It ends with MJ mouthing off. "For those of you looking to find Mercedes’ fashions, you can find them being sold out of the trunk of her car in the parking lot of a strip club,” she says with a stiff daytime television-approved grin.
The two women have it out after the segment when MJ overhears Mercedes calls her a bitch. Insults are hurled; MJ calls Mercedes "a Buick." And I pretty much died. Though, when the queen of wigs notices MJ takes no shit, she laughs and gives her a shiny stamp of approval. “I see you girl, I like that one right there,” she says. MJ grins. The entire exchange was captured via a rhinestone-encrusted camera phone from one of Mercedes's cronies.
The next morning, MJ arrives to work with some unsurprising news: Her rant went viral. She's trending on Twitter. Melissa Harris-Perry wants to interview her. Her rant triggered think pieces about code-switching in the workplace. Bravo.
Garrett calls her into his office. He’s visibly distressed. “Congratulations,” he says on her getting so much attention. He also notes that Ronda had a wonderful idea to capitalize on her newfound web appeal. “She suggested that you become our resident web correspondent." Burn.
"So instead of being on air I’ll be on...the internet,” MJ responds with the same grin reserved earlier for dealing with Mercedes.
Consider this a classic example of when keeping it real goes completely awry.
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