Being Mary Jane is more complicated than you think

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Move over Olivia, women across America are making new friends with Mary Jane Paul. This BET original series gained many followers after it premièred in July 2013.

 According to the Los Angeles Times, the first premiere drew in 4 million views. Many fans patiently waited for the official January 2014 premiere ,and ratings have continued to climb.

Mary Jane Paul, played by Gabrielle Union, is a strong-headed news reporter who seems to have it all together. She produces her own news segment, works for the top news channel, and has a cushy salary to show for it. 

However, when the audience gets a closer look, they soon discover there is more than what meets the eye. With a family that is all depending on her and her paychecks, as well as a mother who is suffering from a debilitating disease, Mary Jane finds herself at the end of her rope. Adding more fuel to the fire is Mary Jane’s steamy but very complicated relationships with men. 

 Writer, producer, and creator Mara Brock Akil does an excellent job of bringing strong black leading ladies back to the forefront of Hollywood. Mary Jane is more than just a pretty face. 

She is a woman on the brink of a breakdown. 

By making her flawed, Mara has made Mary Jane relatable. However, some critics have argued that both Mara and Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Scandal”, are reinforcing negative stereotypes of black women. 

Some have argued that Mary Jane’s character and characters like her insinuate that successful black women are always flawed, stuck up, and/or man stealers. Many argue that Tyler Perry often places his strong female leads in the same typecast. 

For years, cinemas portrayed African American women as hypersexual and vulnerable. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when African American women are cast into strong roles, they are often extremely misandrist. However, others argue that these flaws are real life situations and are not based on race. The issues Mary Jane goes through are universal.

Overall, the season has sparked a huge following. Many people have gravitated to the show and each story adds another twist. Akil does an excellent job of peeling back the layers of her main character and those around her. 

The way that Akil is able to interweave characters and story lines gives audiences a hint of what is to come in the next episode. “Being Mary Jane” is a great girls night treat and an excellent hot topics starter.

— Email Kourtney at  [email protected]  and follow her on Twitter @KPOP_OfColour


  • Kourtney Pope Scene Editor