‘Being Mary Jane’ Returns for Its Fourth Season With a Big Shakeup

being mary jane
Guy D'Alema/BET
Gabrielle Union

Smile pretty! BET’s Being Mary Jane returns for Season 4 (Tuesday, January 10, 9/8c) with a one-year time jump that finds Atlanta news anchor Mary Jane Paul (Gabrielle Union)—famous for her scorching political commentary—trying to make it in Manhattan as a perky personality on a Today-type morning show. Yes, it’s the big time but, damn, it can be demeaning.

“Mary Jane is on the cusp of 40 and opportunities are limited—so it’s now or never,” says showrunner Erica Shelton-Kodish. “There’s always the chance she can deliver some big, breaking news since this is live TV, but she’s mostly there to talk about the hot new wedding dresses and the latest emoji. This job is not about opinions. It’s about smiling, creating a pleasant time for the audience and not offending anyone.”

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At least things are looking juicy in the love department. Mary Jane, prone to sabotaging her romances, will hook up with British standup comic Lee Truitt (Chike Okonkwo). “Lee is very different from the other men who’ve been with Mary Jane,” says Shelton-Kodish. “He lightens her, he makes her laugh, he really opens her eyes.” Yeah, but will she screw it up? “Change is difficult for Mary Jane,” teases the exec. “Old habits die hard.”

The same holds true for her loved ones back in Atlanta. Without having Mary Jane around to solve problems and bail them out financially, the Patterson clan “will really have to step up,” says Shelton-Kodish. “And it won’t be easy for anybody. Mary Jane doesn’t want the family to be dependent upon her, but she also likes the sense of control it gives her to keep taking care of everything. She’s got to learn not to meddle and not to judge her mother, her brother and her niece—and they’re going to have a really rough time with the void that leaves.”

Being Mary Jane, Returns Tuesday, Jan. 17, 9/8c, BET