July 4, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.4, Mary Anne Saves the Day: The BSC Says LGBT Rights

Posted in TV tagged , , at 3:33 pm by Jenn

Mary Anne is the best

So far, Mary Anne is my favorite character in this version of the BSC. She really embodies the struggles middle-schoolers go through. So many of us can relate to feeling uncomfortable speaking up for ourselves and risking our friends not liking what we have to say.

Mary Anne is forced to branch out on her own after a fight with the BSC girls. It’s not the same as in the book, but it starts the same way, with one of the girls taking a sitting job without offering it around to everyone. In the book, it’s Kristy, but here, it’s Mary Anne. Her father recommended her to a colleague, and when the colleague requests Mary Anne as the sitter, Mary Anne is too shy to say no. Her friends angrily tell her she needs to learn to stand up for herself.

Mary Anne tells her father about the fight, but he takes it the wrong way. He feels like the other girls were bullying his daughter. He complains to their parents and the three other girls all get in trouble. That makes them madder at Mary Anne, who finds herself without friends to eat lunch with. Enter Dawn. She doesn’t mind Mary Anne’s shyness; she acknowledges that it’s just part of who Mary Anne is. Mary Anne quickly feels comfortable with her.

The big Jenny emergency from the book is similar here, and emboldens Mary Anne to ask her father for changes like in the book, but in a very different way. Here, Jenny Prezzioso is Bailey Delvecchio, and Mary Anne discovers while sitting for her that she’s transgender. She basically has no reaction to the realization, but later she discusses it with Dawn. Dawn uses a great analogy to explain why it’s important to affirm trans people’s identities: If you’re right-handed, you wouldn’t want people to force you to do everything with your left hand. Mary Anne can relate because she feels like her outside appearance, cultivated by her father to make her look like a little girl, doesn’t match how she feels inside.

As in the book, Bailey gets sick and Mary Anne has to decide on her own what to do. She gets Bailey to the hospital, a bold move in itself for Mary Anne, but her big moment isn’t over. The doctor and nurse who come to tend to Bailey misgender her. Mary Anne senses that Bailey’s upset, so she pulls the doctor and nurse out of the room and tells them to treat Bailey with respect. They listen. Richard overhears and realizes that being in the BSC has made Mary Anne into a more independent, mature person.

The details:

  • We know very little about Mary Anne’s mother from the books, but Mimi and Richard both talk about her a little in this episode. She was a lawyer and was also advocating for others and speaking her mind. This gets Mary Anne thinking about the person she wants to be.
  • Richard is less strict in this episode, and more…well, Kevin from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, also played by Marc Evan Jackson. He explains that he’s only ever put Mary Anne’s hair in braids because it’s the only hairstyle her mother taught him to do. It’s unspoken, but you might interpret this as him saying he doesn’t know how to do her hair because he’s white and she’s biracial, so her hair isn’t the same as white kids’ (which is why he didn’t ask, say, Kristy’s mother for help; she wouldn’t know how to style Mary Anne’s hair, either).

The differences/changes:

  • Dawn is Latina, and her parents divorced because her father came out. She seems fine with it. She’s really friendly and likable here.
  • Mrs. Porter/Morbidda Destiny, Watson’s neighbor whom Karen thinks is a witch, is Dawn’s mom’s aunt. She actually is a witch, but more in the spiritual sense than Karen gets. Dawn and Sharon take Mary Anne to a spiritual gathering at her house.
  • Richard tells Mary Anne to invite Dawn and her mother over for Thanksgiving, which is when Sharon and Richard reunite for the first time in years, and their daughters learn that they used to date.
  • Jeff either doesn’t exist or stayed in California.

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