I Am Not Mary Jane

Tonight is the season finale of “Being Mary Jane”. This show has sparked much conversation in regards to black women and how we are portrayed on television. Some people are impressed with the strong heroine, admire her for having a great job and being a career woman, for helping her family in their times of need-despite their bad decision making, for being financially independent, and for just being a go-getter. On the other hand, you have those who are disgusted, upset, and pissed off with this character. As I stated in my review of the movie that premiered last summer, I was happy to see a character like her…but at the end of the movie, I was totally disgusted when she saved David’s sperm. And that was just the beginning of how any similarities between MJ and myself began to deteriorate. She began making awful decisions. From going back to Andre, her married boyfriend, to having a pissing contest with Avery, Andre’s wife, I realized that I am not Mary Jane (despite BET’s attempt to encourage women from all walks of life to send in videos proclaiming “I am Mary Jane”).

But, let’s not forget this is a fictional show; though, suffice it to say, I’m sure there a few people out there that can relate to a few scenarios. Let’s be real for a second. We put SO much pressure on writers and directors and producers to show black people in general, black women in particular, in positive lights. There was even a post how the world has evolved from Claire Huxtable to Mary Jane Paul. We slam these women on “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Basketball Wives” for fighting and cursing and basically just being an embarassment. We villify them for not setting positive examples and being roles models for young girls and young women. But…shouldn’t WE be doing that? The woman that goes to work everyday. The woman that volunteers with non-profit organizations in her city. The woman that teaches Sunday school. The woman that serves on the city council. The woman that teaches chemistry and math and English. The woman that is a great neighbor that speaks to everyone and helps keep the streets clean. My point is, if we, the women that these children see and interact with everyday, are doing what WE should be doing, these young women would not look to a tv character, whether she’s on a scripted show or a “reality” show, to figure out how to become a woman and a lady. She would view you-her mother, her mentor, her teacher, her neighbor-to decide what makes a woman. Yes, we are all flawed, and that’s fine. But should our aim in life be to become a caricature character we see on television?

I mean, I am not Mary Jane Paul; but I am not Claire Huxtable, either.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

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Last night, BET premiered its much anticipated movie/series “Being Mary Jane”, which stars Gabrielle Union.  If I may be transparent with you guys, I was kinda excited about this movie, especially after seeing more of the previews during the BET Awards on Sunday.  And I am very happy to say that BET did not disappoint.  For those of you that are not familiar, “Being Mary Jane” tells the story of one single, successful, and beautiful woman, Mary Jane Paul.  She’s a television news anchor who is winning in her professional life, but has to deal with troubled family members and a troubled love life.  And even though the movie started out saying this story was only about one woman, it actually wasn’t; it WAS a story about all of us.  As I sat on my couch engrosssed in what was happening, I would check Facebook during commercials to gauge others reactions, and I saw that my friends were saying the same thing I was thinking-it was like looking in a mirror.

Some of us, and by that I mean Black women, are educated and successful and attractive and just have a lot going for us in general.  But we may come from a family that is ok with the status quo.  Or we may come from a family that is alwasy asking us for money.  Or we may be single and looking for love.

I can honestly say watching the first hour of this movie (minus sleeping with the married man), I thought someone had had a hidden camera in my life over the last few years and decided to make a movie about it.  When Mary Jane was talking to her niece and Niecy stated that, “You have it all together” little does she know Mary Jane cries.  There are times when I want to scream and throw tantrums and break things when I’m alone, but I can’t show that side to the public.  Why?  Because there’s so much pressure to be perfect and happy and appear that you have everything the way you want it to be.  I could also related when Mary Jane was satisfying her shoe fanaticism and her confidant/the Shoe Salegirl had the nerve to piggyback on Mary Jane and talk about her family.  MJ quickly shut that down; it’s ok for me to talk about my family, but you are off limits.  I actually went through that not even an hour before the show came on.  And most importantly, when Mary Jane walked to her male BFF’s house, I thought, “That is so me and TyAnthony!  It would be AWESOME if he lived next door to me!!!”  But then I saw her BFF had a BF and quickly deduced that he would be my other male BFF, who I don’t mention a lot here, but he’s been in my heart since we met our freshman year at FAMU.  Lastly, I was SO proud of Mary Jane when she left ol’ boy sitting in the restaurant.  I know what it’s like to be so enraptured with a man that you can’t get him out of your system, so I appreciated her calling it what it was, because as women, we don’t do that too often.  But darn him for coming to her house!!!

I was so enamored with this movie until the last 60 seconds.  I was TOTALLY thrown and disgusted when she saved his sperm, because it was totally coming from left field.  And I was equally thrown when they started rolling the credits.  I was thinking, “I know this movie is not ending like this…SERIOUSLY!?!?!”  But I am happy to say that “Being Mary Jane” will be a series on BET!  AND it looks like it’s actually going to be pretty darn good.  Some may say, “She’s not perfect. She’s flawed and has all of these issues.”  But who is?  Aren’t we all flawed?  For once, I see someone that I can relate to.  But where are her girlfriends??? Well, I guess there is Kara, but she needs more.

All in all, kudos to the cast for an AMAZING job.  And to the writers.  I can honestly say I saw a bit of myself and my friends in Mary Jane.  And I think they got it wrong.  It’s not just the story of one single Black woman; it belongs to all of us.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

P. S. Don’t worry if you missed it.  An encore presentation will air tonight at 9 pm!