Being Mary Jane, the rom-com-tragedy by Mara Brock Akil, the creator of Girlfriends, premiered last year on BET and kicked off it’s second season a few of weeks ago. Gabrielle Union plays Mary Jane, a sleek, sexy and successful talk show host on the surface, but behind closed doors – she’s a post-it-note obsessed, sperm-stealing mistress.


There are a lot of comparisons to ABC’s Scandal (Black woman lead, terrible decision making in their love life while being on top of their fields professionally, banging wardrobes and homes), but for the most part that’s where it ends. The cast and political storylines give Scandal the edge over Being Mary Jane.


By enjoying the juicy, sexy drama, Black women are told they are encouraging bad behavior and striving to be a woman of low morals and values. There is nothing about either of these shows that I, or most working, educated women aspire to be. I can watch House of Cards without wanting to create diabolical political plots.


There are many reasons why I shouldn’t like this show:

  • The recycled narrative (unlucky in love making women do crazy things)
  • The storylines
  • The acting
  • The characters (the wife asking Mary Jane if she always … um … arrived while sleeping with her husband…REALLY?)

But the biggest reason? How I sometimes feel about myself after I watch an episode (or the entire season). I see too much of myself in this fictional character and it bothers me.

From the façade of having it all and being put together, the complicated interesting family relationships, the questionable romantic decisions, a contentious work environment — it all sometimes hits too close to home.

But it’s her moments of weakness & loneliness that hit me the hardest. The type of actions we don’t want to admit we’ve done to ourselves, much less our friends. When we do stupid things that betray how smart we are. When knowing better doesn’t equal doing better. Black women are supposed to be strong, fierce and independent all the time. There’s rarely any room, in real life or in fictional television it seems, for being less than that without being reduced to a villain.

Wanting and craving something or someone so badly that you lose sight of your morals, values and ethics? To be so distracted by emptiness and silence that you engage your fives senses in any way possible? To try, fail and try again. To be firm with your no, remove all traces of them from your life because you know you should, not because you want to? To wonder what is wrong with you and have no answers?

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Life is hard enough without asking these hard-hitting questions of oneself because of a tv show I don’t even want to like. It’s hard enough to be me, much less draw parallels to Being Mary Jane – but like a moth to a flame, in search of answers and a supremely over-the-top escape, maybe that’s why I’ll continue to watch.

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