Sing About Me: The Real-Life Samantha Havens

The concept of dying alone plays a huge part in Being Mary Jane. In episode 103, Mara Brock Akil uses a real-life incident as a ominous allusion to what Mary Jane is truly afraid of.

In Episode 103, Mary Jane decides to run a story on Samantha Havens, a 30-something woman who died while watching TV and whose death was unreported for three years.

Followers of the news will recall the real-life incident which this story is based on: In January 2006, the body of Joyce Carol Vincent was found decomposed in a London flat. She had died approximately three years prior. There were no signs of foul play and the shocking discovery was made after authorities came due to issues with unpaid rent. Despite neighbors noticing a foul smell from her door, no one thought an intervention was necessary.

The story acts as a plot device, drawing an ominous comparison between Mary Jane's life and what she ultimately hopes doesn't happen to her. The parallels between Joyce Vincent and Mary Jane Paul on the show are uncanny. Much like Mary Jane, Joyce was single, had seen success earlier in life and (at the time of her death) was in her 30s. Though Joyce was not as much a public figure as Mary Jane's character, the possibility of meeting a similar fate is Mary Jane's single greatest fear.

The documentary, Dreams of a Life, by Carol Morley, examined the case with commentary from friends and family who had lost touch with her. According to an article written by the director in The Guardian, the question which she sought to have answered was "In a city such as London, home to 8 million people, how could someone's absence go unnoticed for so long?"

Though Mary Jane's fate with Andre is not sealed, she continues to be haunted by the very notion of loneliness even as the episode comes to a close. Her inability to sleep is rooted in anxiety and she ultimately curls up next to Andre as he lays sleeping in order to find solace from the thought.

(Photo: Dogwoof Productions)

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