I’ll speak my truth. When I first saw the promotional advertisements for a new show called Being Mary Jane, I was excited. My soul rejoiced like the ratchets when Booise came home with a “Yaaaaassssss, here is a show where a Black woman has a career AND a nice house. She a bad broad.” *insert a twerk to I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T*
I counted down the days when the show that I knew I was going to LOVE was going to appear. While I didn’t catch the premiere, I still caught the show through the blessings of DVR. The first few minutes of the show were pretty good. I appreciated the disclaimer in the beginning stating that this was only one story of one Black woman; not the entire story of all black women. When we got to the big reveal of the main chick being the side chick, that’s kind of when I emotionally and mentally checked out of the story. By the time we got to the end with her plan of creating a child with freezer burned sperm, I was pretty much done. I didn’t give up too much on hope, though. I rationalized with fanciful fallacies that maybe the first showing had to be intense. The series would be better, I explained to myself. So there I was, watching the second, third, and fourth shows. What I learned from the experience, lying is wrong. Lying to yourself is wronger (yes, well aware that’s not a word but I’m telling the story here). What bothered me the most was the constant storyline of dick chasing Mary Jane was doing. Your know how they say first impressions are lasting impressions? That quote can apply to television as well. When we first met Mary Jane, in the very first scene we saw her in, there was dick involved. We didn’t know she was a successful television journalist. We didn’t know she was the glue trying to hold her trifling family together. But we knew she had an affinity for fuckboys. One being married and the other into the committed non-commitment relationship. Two of the worst kind. So with that being my first impression, it’s no wonder why my hope for Mary Jane wasn’t lasting.
I know that those who know me (be it on social media or in actual living and breathing life), may be thinking, “But, you love Scandal, though. It has the same premise. What’s the difference?” I get it, there is a similar mistress storyline for both shows that I love to loathe. But there is a fundamental difference in the sidechick sagas between Mary Jane and Olivia.
We didn’t know about Olivia’s dick chasing until towards the end of the premiere episode. When we first met Liv, we knew she was a fixer. It was her job to make the imperfect appear as perfect. But in order to keep Olivia palatable to audiences, I guess, there had to be a downside to her. In literature, it’s called a heroic flaw. But again, not being introduced to that off the break makes all the difference in how you receive and perceive her character. Furthermore, in Olivia’s case, she knows she’s wrong for doing what she’s doing with Fitz. She’s tried to make it right, she’s tried to make him right. Not saying that what she’s doing is excusable. I just have a thing for people who can admit that they’re wrong, stand in their wrongness, and will at least try to attempt to make it right. I appreciate that so I thusly appreciate Olivia. Additionally, Olivia does what few mistresses (real or fiction) do when it comes to recognizing who shares in their trash: She puts the blame on the mister. She’s not offering up any Clean-Up Woman clichés of “Well if you was doing what you were supposed to I wouldn’t be doing your man” or any of that shit. She doesn’t justify her wrongness. She’s trash and she owns her trashiness.
And now, for Mary Jane.
In fairness of this critique, I will make these points early. Yes, Olivia did knowingly getting with a married man as opposed to Mary Jane unknowingly getting with a married man. Yes, Mary Jane did have a hint of remorse in the beginning as seen in her first encounter with Avery. But that’s where it stops for me. The grill upon which I lay my beef with MJ is in Episode 4 titled Mixed Messages was her speech about being “No. 2.” If you haven’t seen it, check it out here. *DEEEEEPPPP EFFFINNGGGG SIIIIIGHHHHH* What gets my soul sizzling about this mess is that she’s giving this fluke ass number 2 speech in front of a bunch of impressionable little girls. We already have a huge issue with girls struggling to reach their full potential, battling the red tape of sexism (throw in racism, too, if you’re Black) on a daily basis. Don’t justify your skanky shenanigans in a disguise of motivational speaking. Don’t make that okay for them with that Mokenstef Mentality.
I guess what pisses me off the most about Mary Jane more than Olivia is that her story is sooooo close to sooooo many other stories I’ve heard/seen before. Want to know why? Because this is nothing but art imitating life. And in said life, shit like this keeps happening because nobody ever places the blame where it really needs to be: WITH THE DUDE. We’ve been through this wayyyyyy too long, ladies. There is no sense in getting mad at the other woman (depending on your situation, but even then). She didn’t choose to cheat on you. That fuckboy of husband/fiance/boyfriend did. But I guess until we as women get that clear, we’re just going to keep giving these writers more materials for these shows to give me more reasons to be pissed.
And that is why I don’t see it for Mary Jane.