‘Beautifully flawed’ is the tagline of BET’s one hour drama Being Mary Jane and there aren’t any other words needed when describing Mary Jane Paul and this amazing show.
For the first 2 seasons, Mary Jane Paul was insufferable.
She was quite literally the absolute worst person. It was easy to initially write of Being Mary Jane as just another show about a Black woman sleeping with a married man but Being Mary Jane proved time and time again that it was more than that. This season we were able to understand what makes her the person she is.
Season 3 picked up following Mary Jane’s horrific car accident after she overheard that her longtime friend Lisa and the ex love of her life David had engaged in a sexual act together. Mary Jane spent the first few episodes of the season getting her life back together. This season also ushered in Loretta Devine as we had never seen her: an opportunistic, conniving extortionist but also wise as she gave Mary Jane some of the best knowledge she didn’t know she needed.
This season explored the important stories of the supporting characters in Mary Jane’s life. These stories hit nearly every taboo topic in the Black community and we needed to see them on television.
- Black suicide and depression
Being Mary Jane made us confront the elephant in the room that is Black suicide. Mary Jane’s longtime friend Lisa Hudson was a doctor who suffered from depression. We never really understood Lisa until her suicide when we learned she was molested by her stepfather for a number of years. Although suicide rates for Black women are statistically very low, often many Black women suffer silently from depression.
- Mary Jane is Black woman with an AMAZING sex life
Before this show, I had never truly seen a free Black woman on TV. The best parts of the show have been watching Mary Jane engage in the most carefree sex of her life. Mary Jane has some of the steamiest sex scenes on television and the best part is no one is labeling her as loose, fast or a hoe. She’s grown!
It’s carefree but not irresponsible. The December 1 episode showed Mary Jane and her lover taking home HIV tests. My only gripe is that we never see her taking the tests only him. Now that she’s here, I want to see more characters like her. The audience is demanding more characters like her.
- A real look at police brutality
The explosive season finale was like watching a clip from the police dash cam videos we’ve gotten use to seeing. Mary Jane’s niece Niecy had a violent confrontation with police reminiscent to that of Sandra Bland and viewers held their breaths as they didn’t know what would happen next. It seems that Niecy survived the ordeal but we’ll have to wait until next season to really understand how it affects her character.
BMJ has consistently shown us a free Black woman unafraid (mostly) to live her life unapologetically. You cannot find that anywhere else in the entertainment landscape- not on network television, Netflix, Hulu, cable and definitely not in films.
Every Tuesday, Black twitter gathered to watch Mary Jane Paul juggle a career as a mainstream journalist with her love life and family responsibilities. I’ve even found that men enjoy live tweeting the show. Sure we love Scandal and How to get away with murder but this season of BMJ was revolutionary.
We can’t name a show that has successfully tackled Black depression, drug abuse, interracial dating, and the plight of the overworked mom, teen pregnancy and Black families mixed with relevant political news all in one. That type of show never existed before Being Mary Jane.
Without the respectably politics of The Cosby Show or the theatrics of Empire, Being Mary Jane is the show that we’ve always needed. This show excels at showing us as we are and as people we know.
It’s clear that being BMJ is more than a TV show. For many of us, it’s a place we turn to that lets us know that we’re not alone. We’re not the only people dealing with complicated family issues.
Mara Brock Akil (creator/show runner) has a knack for creating Black women characters that are complicated, 3 dimensional, unpredictable, innovative, charming, both likable and unlikable. She gave use Joan Clayton and Tasha Mack but we found ourselves in Mary Jane Paul.
I hope the shows next season doesn’t suffer with Mara Brock Akil exiting BET as show runner. But the good news is that Akil and her husband Salim are headed to primetime television so hopefully the next Mary Jane Paul will be in even more homes.
Watching Being Mary Jane has been like spending time with your family every week. Despite everyone’s problems, the family loves each other and always vows to stick together. In an age where the Black family is vilified, BMJ is proof that the Black family is alive, needed and necessary.