Being Mary Jane Season 1: A composition of cliche

Meet Mary Jane Paul ( formerly Pauletta Patterson) who is young i.e. thirty something, successful, beautiful, educated, financially stable, socially forward, independent, black and a woman. Hat’s off to Mary Jane, she represents what we all want our daughters if not ourselves to be. Or is she?

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Where do I begin on what I see as the misrepresentation of all womanhood in this character and blackness in this show?…..I think I got it, I’ll list the cliches.

1. A black woman and her weave. This chick is well put together, a great journalist as far as I can see it, I really and truly would watch her show if it were a real thing, hell if it where the whole show. But even here in perhaps the most admirable aspect in this character BET has found a way to belittle this woman but making her one of them. You know the ones, that won’t go outside when it rains, who is limited by the confines of their Asian hair extensions. Ugh I mean really? Oh and she is not the only one, oh no, everyone even the broke teen with the baby on the way is rocking a fantastic weave? How is this possible? So weave yes, babies yes, job….? Um no? Ok.

2. The junkie or trifling men. We have the weed dealing brother, the coke head brother, the retired distant father, the married cheater, the deadbeat user (Except he’s not) and the gay black man on the down low? Did I miss one? Nope they are all present and accounted for and all on one screen, under the umbrella of the same production. Huey Wept man. images  could he have been anymore right in the portrayal of the black male in the media? And could there be a more poignant example that this? Is this a real cross section of our men? Since when?

3. The teen mother, having a mixed race baby because of her own self loathing. -_- could there be any other conflict for a female in a show with a demographic for females of color? And my problem is not so much that this situation doesn’t exist but does it need to be so celebrated so normalized? Why do shows like this continually perpetuate this? Oh yeah because that’s what sells, to us, that is what we can relate to right?

4. Mary Jane herself.

a. Too career focused to have a healthy romantic life or a family. Which is fine except that now she is regretful, and why? Why should women feel less for making that choice? Hello that’s what suffrage was for.

b. So desperate at this point that she’s stealing sperm in hopes of sating her biological clock, not that she is going about the relationship thing in the right way, but that’s another rant all together.

c. Also so desperate that she would compromise her morals for the sake of a man. -_- Yep another day.

d. Default response angry, and of course everyone is accountable to the angry black chick because she managed to do so well, despite her upper middle class upbringing, and obvious access to good education.

e. Indecisive as hell, bad choices or no I think I would respect this chick more if she stuck to a course of action, or you know a guy and meant what she did. Indeed you are not alone all the women from Avery the scorned wife to the Pill popping doctor, they are all shades of take some damn responsibility for themselves.

and finally F. Mary honey stop taking responsibility for everyone, Jr needs to go to jail, cause you saving him is never gonna set him straight, Andre cheating is not your fault, you don’t need to fix it, well before you found out he was married that is, after that Kara was right. Taking care of your sick mom is your dad’s job, “in sickness and in health, for better of worse” let him do it. Neecie needs to stand on her own, stop taking care of her babies, she will survive. And your friends are grown, let them handle their own mess.

I do respect two characters in this show though, very highly.

Patrick, for owning his struggle and committing to do it on his own, which is the only way to do this. I really do wish you well sir and am very interested in following your story. And Neecie, who has made her mistakes, but so needs to fly, again on her own to truly see her worth.

So all in all, it’s not all bad, it’s not all good but not all bad. So I’ll watch season 2. of this affront to a racial diaspora and all femaledom


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