Turns out, selling out doesn’t always come with a clear conscience. We all knew that Mary Jane’s “I didn’t sell out; I bought in” line was hollow words. M.J. finally figured it out, and it only took one self-righteous, conscious college student to do it.
M.J. sure knows how to clear a table. It must be exhausting to have to constantly be the bad guy. During the family cookout at M.J.’s house, Niecy announces that she wants to buy a car, which M.J. quickly shuts down as a terrible financial decision. Niecy reminds her auntie about the $100,000 she just dropped on a brand-new car. M.J. reminds everyone that she can afford it: “If you handled your finances a little better, you too, could have the finer things in life.” M.J. starts preaching about communal accountability with finances—something she read in a book. And the family literally leaves her alone to listen to the sound of her own voice.
Clark University students pulled no punches during M.J.’s chat with a journalism class. They flat out told her that she cares more about her own celebrity than reporting actual news. Nothing like “woke” college kids who swear they know everything. Even after M.J.’s very real point about living in the TMZ era—that people only read headlines, drama is the only thing selling and building a brand is key—one sister lets M.J. know that she’s part of the problem because she gave up Talk Back for prime time. That young sister’s sellout comment leaves M.J. not only speechless but also on a quest to figure out what she’s really doing with her career and platform.
After her talk, the students circle around her to do it for the ’gram with selfies. I’ve been thinking about this for a minute. M.J.’s celebrity is way overblown. There’s not a single news anchor, in real life, that young people treat with the same fandom as a musician or actor. College students in large groups are not running up to Tamron Hall to take selfies. Trust me.
Cece (Loretta Devine) is back with some epic truth telling! Cece’s bookstore is up and running. M.J. walks in on Cece talking to a group about the problem with referring to little black boys as men and seeing them as such. In other words, stop calling your son “little man.”
M.J. asks Cece if she thinks she’s a sellout, to which Cece laughs her face off: “You prefer things, not value.” Preach, extortionist/knowledge dropper Cece! M.J. blames viewers for not tuning in to her shows centered on black issues. M.J. is not sure what she wants out of her career other than financial freedom. I don’t think I’d be too chummy with the woman who cajoled me out of $25,000, but M.J. needs Cece in her life. M.J. hands over the final $5,000. “You know something? I think you gon’ miss me,” Cece says.
Remember, white boo knows now that she is the Mary Jane Paul. Before any headboard knocking goes down, M.J. serves a platter of at-home HIV tests for them to take together. Know your status. She also ran a police report on him, making dating in 2015 seem scary.
While the vanilla jump-off is asleep, M.J. snaps a pic of him to send to Kara. Naturally, Kara comes over the next day to hear all the details. This is M.J.’s first white guy. “I’m not racist; I just discriminate based on my personal preference,” M.J. says.
Just when we thought Cece was gone, she pops up at M.J.’s to advise her on her career. Cece instructs her to do both Talk Back and prime time. Most important, she tells her not to accept less money for Talk Back. Told y’all she needs Cece in her life.
M.J. makes her pitch to Greg, who is on board with the idea, although it would leave Nischelle Turner jobless. Nischelle interviews Donna Brazile about Hillary Clinton earning the black vote, and M.J. is confident that she can do it better. Kara is happy for M.J., but she refuses to produce the show. Kara’s priorities have changed; her dreams are on pause because she wants to be a better mother. Kara urges her to produce the show herself, since M.J. doesn’t trust anyone else.
Tracy is leaving the halfway house and expects Patrick to take her back. When he tells her that there was never a happily ever after in store for them, she waltzes over to M.J.’s job unannounced with the news that Patrick’s on drugs again. How concerned could she really be when she only told his family after he turned her down?
M.J. casually asks her brother the question nobody wants the real answer to. “I’m taking a little something to help me focus,” he says. Patrick swears it’s not drugs because it’s not cocaine. But, uh, it’s drugs. His parents walk in, crushed. They’ve been helping him for 15 years. Patrick is forever that son who just can’t get right. His parents are taking Deja from him until he gets it together. It’s a heartbreaking intervention that leaves M.J. stuck between not wanting Patrick to feel as if she betrayed him and wanting to help him.