Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Is Mary Jane’s Story the Saddest of All?

You feel like you are the glue that holds your entire family together. You have no boyfriend or husband and no kids. There is one guy who you always come back to, but who you are never going to be with, and you know this. It’s just that sometimes your bed is a cold, lonely place. You get tired of coming home from work, church, and nights out with friends to nothing but a house – no matter how nice it may be. Sure you find pleasure in other things, like shoes and baking cakes, but you still want more and you are often mad or sad that nothing is happening and not so deep down you are beginning to believe nothing will ever change.

Does any of this sound familiar? For many women – especially black women – it probably sounds all too familiar. Day in and day out, you, like myself, may think no one understands. Then, last week, in stepped Mary Jane Paul. A heroin for all of us who look to the heavens every few months and go “Really? Everyone but me?”

I was thoroughly intrigued as I watched Gabrielle Union play Mary Jane Paul on July 2. Many things that women are internalizing were being played out on television, and that’s a good thing. Just as little girls across all ethnic and socioeconomic, adult women – and men – desire and have a need to see themselves in the mainstream as well. As a single woman, I appreciate the acknowledgement from BET and Mara Brock Akil that not every woman is married with kids spending her free time on DIY projects found on Pinterest.

Gabrielle Union is taking one giant leap forward as Mary Jane Paul in "Being Mary Jane," a new show on BET.
Gabrielle Union is taking one giant leap forward as Mary Jane Paul in “Being Mary Jane,” a new show on BET.

While Shonda Rhimes is often touted as the most important woman in the television industry, no one should count Mara Brock Akil out. Yes, Shonda Rhimes has found crossover fame with Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, but Mara Brock Akil speaks to black women specifically on a level that arguably, and I believe, Miranda Baily and Olivia Pope do not.

Some of Mara Brock Akil’s credits include the series Girlfriends (which was genius), The Game, and Moesha, and now Being Mary Jane. She does not limit herself though, she was a consulting producer on Cougar Town.

What saddens me is the way BET is rolling Being Mary Jane out. The show premiered with a two-hour “movie premiere event” last week, but will not have a full-time slot on the channel until 2014. Hopefully since the movie premiere got the network excellent ratings, BET will give it the attention it deserves and strategically market it as it should. Otherwise, the show would be better off on Lifetime or HBO. So here’s to hoping this show makes it and raises awareness in women everywhere who like Mary Jane Paul are “Successful. Single. Searching.”

For more on Being Mary Jane, read the Huffington Post’s look at the series as well.

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