When MTV asks if you want to visit Snoop Dogg’s compound, you say yes. Especially when the reason is “Mary + Jane,” the network’s charming new scripted comedy about two young women trying to run a “mostly legal prescription delivery service.”
Snoop Dogg is an executive producer on the show, as well as a dedicated lover of television (his current favorite shows include “Power,” “Narcos” and “Stranger Things”). And he’s also a big fan of “Mary + Jane.” “When I fall in love it’s hard for me to get out,” he told IndieWire. “I’m all the way locked in.”
Snoop Dogg’s expansive compound includes production studios, offices, some lovely-smelling bathrooms, a basketball court, skeeball, arcade games and an entire room that can function as a mini-casino, with tables for poker and craps. One of hip-hop star’s dogs, Jules, roamed about freely, occasionally using empty water bottles as chew toys.
Joining Snoop to discuss the show were “Mary + Jane” creators Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, as well as stars Jessica Rothe and Scout Durwood. The only room of the Dogg compound that smelt at all of weed was the room where the interview was conducted, and that was because Snoop was smoking a healthy-sized joint.
He’d gesture with the joint as he spoke, referring to it as “this.” For example, when touting the benefits of weed over alcohol, he remarked, “Around motherfuckers with that other shit like alcohol, ain’t no telling what’s going to happen when they leave your sight. With this—” he held up the joint “—it’s night night.”
Snoop’s role as an executive producer meant a lot of different levels of involvement. He wrote the theme song for the show, an incredibly catchy tune that took, according to him, about 35 minutes to write. His description of the process: “The writers gave me some good concepts, a nice trailer to look at, good weed, a producer… Puff puff, there you have it.”
He also makes a cameo appearance (not as himself) in the upcoming season finale, and serves as a consultant on the world being depicted, one he’s both emotionally and financially invested in — literally, as one of Snoop’s investments is a real-life delivery service for medical marijuana called Eaze.
“This is why my association to [‘Mary + Jane’] is so crucial, because this is something I’m dealing with in real life,” he said. “I have two beautiful dealers who are waiting to see me when this interview is over.”
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The fact that Snoop’s dealers are women is not an accident, but rather indicative of how marijuana is changing both as a pop culture trope and as an industry. “It was always the funny guys that were the frontier guys for the marijuana movement in television and movies,” Snoop said. “Now you’re seeing the women get their shot because they’re actually in the front of it in real life.”
“In earlier days, smoking pot in general was a very unladylike thing,” Durwood said. “But I think women are getting to do more things on TV in general.”
“That is very key,” Snoop said, “because a woman’s persona and perception, and how she’s viewed on screen is very important. To have a joint or a blunt, at one point in time, was not looked at as being classy. And now it’s like, ‘Hold on, the best of the best smoke, so knock it off.’ When you see Rihanna [with a joint], it’s accepted.”
Adjusting to this new perception was something “Mary + Jane” actually did during production, specifically when it came to the character of Paige, played by Rothe, who is Jordan’s (Durwood) more innocent counterpart.
“Originally Paige was a little more wary of weed,” Rothe said. “She was in the business to help out, but wasn’t really into it. She was being a good friend rather than being an actual entrepreneur, and we realized what a disservice it did to her character and their friendship, to have her be on the outskirts. We actually reshot some of the pilot to give her a little more agency, to make them more level as business partners. And after shooting 10 episodes, I was so appreciative of that. Because I think it does exactly what Snoop and Scout are saying: It takes away any kind of shame from being associated with this.”
According to Elfont, in every phase of development the show was about two women, though there was “a moment” when, concerned about “Broad City” comparisons, he wondered about changing it to three women.
“Then it would be ‘Charlie’s Angels,'” Durwood said. (A higher kind of angel, presumably.)
Like Abbi and Ilana of “Broad City,” Paige and Jordan are young female weed enthusiasts. But the fact that the show is about women who are not just marijuana users, but dealers, has larger implications.
“This is the first new business in a long time — it’s a new frontier where no one has really stepped out and planted a flag. So it’s kind of an open playing field,” Kaplan said.
Snoop described what he witnessed in the industry’s early days: “When the industry first started, with the dispensaries, the bosses of the dispensaries would give women jobs as budtenders, as waitresses. They would talk, they would learn. And smart women were saying ‘Why would I work for you when I’m the one with all the information, I know about all this shit, I have all the clientele? How about I do this myself?'”
And that, Snoop said, “empowers women to be their own bosses and not answer to a man. And that’s the most important thing. Women nowadays, they’re strong enough to lead in any capacity of business. It’s a business that if you put the right feminine around it and the right beauty of a woman around it, the business will boom forever.”
What he means by “the right feminine,” exactly, is a bit hazy. But Elfont also pointed out the logic behind a female-driven delivery service. “We did some research and when we would talk to people, especially in the delivery space, it made more sense to have attractive women delivering the product — because who do you want showing up at your door? Some bearded dude?”
“It’s bad enough that I have to deal with an ugly delivery guy for my food,” Snoop noted.
“It doesn’t really depend on who the customer is,” Elfont continued. “If you’re a woman, you’d rather have a friendly woman come to the door than some dude. And if you’re a dude, it works the same way.”
The question of safety for women who deliver did come up when developing “Mary + Jane,” as it does in the real world industry. In their research, the producers delved into how various services handle the question. But the focus was on the comedy. “We made a choice to steer away from the darker, more violent aspects of making drug deals. We felt like we’d seen that before and wanted to present a different side to things,” Elfont said.
While the business operated by Jordan and Paige is borderline illegal, legalization efforts have made greater headway over the last several years — this November, in fact, California voters will have the opportunity to approve Proposition 64, which could decriminalize pot in a fashion similar to what happened in Colorado in 2014.
Many are confident that Prop. 64 will pass, including Snoop, who noted the numerous benefits Colorado has seen in the past two years. “The whole world is starting to examine the money Colorado is making from the marijuana business, that they’re taking and investing back into the school systems,” he said. “The jobs that it’s creating, the violence that’s depreciating… Colorado is a beautiful place now. [Marijuana] is not looked at as being bad now, because it’s saving lives. California has to catch up eventually.”
There are a number of other comedies right now about the marijuana business, including the upcoming Kathy Bates-starring Chuck Lorre/Netflix series “Disjointed” and HBO’s charming “High Maintenance” (which features a male deliveryman). “Mary + Jane” stands out, though, because it’s about a lot of things beyond pot: The absurdity of East Side Los Angeles hipster culture, and the relationship issues that arise whether you’re searching for true love or great sex.
One standout episode, “Snatchelorette,” finds the girls, thanks to some weed-infused lube, able to communicate with their vaginas (with voice work by Judy Greer and “The Mindy Project’s” Xosha Roquemore) and make peace with some deeply personal issues as a result. It’s an absurd storyline, but one that brings out the humanity of its characters in a truly original way.
As Rothe explained, “one of the best things about having pot on the show is that it allows us to jump into these zany situations without having to explain it. So we all just get to groove.”
Everyone there described the show’s vibe, in general, as a very friendly one — per Kaplan, “people who were on one episode became friends.”
“When Snoop’s EPing your show, the quality of people who choose to come on have a certain cool factor,” Durwood said.
“High standards,” added Snoop.
And, yeah, maybe pot has something to do with that. We wrapped up our conversation by discussing what benefits they saw to marijuana becoming a part of the mainstream, and Rothe was quick to respond. “I think something that is a part of weed culture, is just be yourself and be happy with who you are and how you are in the world,” she said. “Don’t worry about what other people are doing — just be on your own path. I think the show deals with that.”
Snoop then got philosophical. “Marijuana is like the bridge to the gap,” he said. “It’s the one line that can create peace around the whole globe. It’s the one line that creates communication with people who don’t know how to communicate. It’s the one line of understanding where you have like minds who aren’t violent, who are on peace. So for me, if this was more involved in the world there’d be less violence, there’d be fewer tragic events that happen because the tragedies that happen are never associated with this. This is usually the remedy.
“This,” he gestured one last time, “can make the world a better place.”
“Mary + Jane” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on MTV.