‘Being Mary Jane’ Isn’t What I Expected, But That Isn’t A Bad Thing! [REVIEW]

Photo by Hello Beautiful
Photo by Hello Beautiful

I was never a fan of Gabrielle Union‘s acting skills or of any of the many random roles she’s played throughout her 11-year long career (“Think Like A Man”, “Deliver Us From Eva”, etc.). She and Kerry Washington were very interchangeable without notice, in my mind. Even in “Bad Boys 2″– a film that garnered Gabby U rave reviews over her sexy body and gorgeous brown face–wasn’t appealing to me because in said film (and every other) she only had two faces: sexy and distinguished sexy with a hint of anger when she pursed her lips and positioned her nose. With polarizing perceptions of her latest gig–Mara Brock Akil production “Being Mary Jane” (some loved it & others loathed it)–I was more than ready to hate it and label it a dud like I did “Scandal” which it’s being compared to. Furthermore, I went into last night’s premiere episode with a tad bit of reluctance, expecting soap opera acting because come on, it’s BET, but with an open enough mind to embrace the positives (if there would be any).
BET cushioned the debut episode of “Being Mary Jane” with the hour and a half pilot that played at UrbanWorld in 2013 and on BET later. It’s initial premiere landed an impressive 4.0 rating, but I wasn’t persuaded by the numbers. I watched “Being Mary Jane” for the first time last night and surprisingly found myself able to relate to her character just like my coworker said she had. Mary Jane, like me, works in a business that never sleeps. Her long hours and labors that will go unnoticed by her boss seemed all too familiar. Her family dynamic resembled bits of mine and paralleled stories I’ve heard from close friends. Her tumultuous love life–a relationship with a married man– isn’t exactly something I’ve been through, but close enough! I don’t need to have messed with a married man to know what it feels like to be lied to, cheated on, manipulated and hurt beyond measure. Sh*t, I was feeling like Mary Jane before the countdown to series reached 00:01. I was glued to the TV, pepperoni Hot Pocket in one hand, vagina and emotions nestled in the palm of the other. That sex scene with Andre (Omari Hardwick)… Lawd, Jesus fan the fire.
The opening scene to “Being Mary Jane” kicked off with Mary punching a glass window to rescue her friend from a botched suicide attempt. Her friend claimed she was just trying to “sleep” but we all knew better. When Mary returned to her uber chic and fabulous home, David a.k.a Never Answer (a type of man and relationship I’m also very familiar with), was waiting for her. He invited her to an Esperanza Spalding concert, later in the day, that she reluctantly accepted. That’s when Andre popped up at her gate. David greeted him and Andre played it off by saying he was at the wrong house.
David played coy but was aware that Andre couldn’t have been in the wrong place since he knew the passcode to Mary’s entrance (in more ways than one). David was clearly interested in dating Mary Jane but she’d rather keep it simple and keep their relationship on a need to f**k basis. Mr. Never Answer is handsome but not on the same level as Andre who Mary found out had a wife and kids in the premiere pilot. Andre is undeniable handsome, built and tempting but still ultimately, married.
Andre is the type man I, and many women, know all too well. Mary severed ties with the tantalizing fella but he was intent on winning her back (which he eventually does). Moving on with her life, Mary invested her energy into her family and thriving career.
Niecy (Mary’s niece), played by Raven Goodwin, is pregnant again with no job and no real boyfriend. She is desperate to have her baby shower at Mary’s lavish house so her baby’s father will be inclined to attend, because after all his real girlfriend is six-months pregnant and throwing a shower on the same day and she needs the upperhand (cue affluent neighborhood with all the trimmings). As odd as it sounds Niecy’s situation is one I’ve been exposed to as well. I didn’t find it cheesy, I found it realistic. Mary’s family is a mess and her brother is also jobless with a White woman as a wife who is thinks Mary is a “b*tch.” Frankly, Mary supports them all, including her mother who is sick with Lupus.
Mary is still dealing with the fact that the man she loved is married when she spots his wife at a Pet store she confronts her demanding they unite and take action against his deceptive ways. The wife (Robinne Lee) questioned her intentions. Mary was taken aback by her response and slipped away to only be bombarded at work by her shortly after. In one of the most talked about scenes, Mary and the wife have an intense conversation detailing her affair: if she cums every time they have sex, if he goes “down” on her and if she’s been around their children.
After avoiding Andre’s calls and their impromptu meeting by the coffee shop, they bump heads at the gym. Andre corners Mary in the shower and apologizes for lying. He sweeps her off her feet and Mary cries as she gives her body to him.
I thought “Being Mary Jane” was going to be one of those cliché single Black female, can’t get a man stories but it turned out to be the opposite. Mary had a man but he was a liar and cheat who she fell so deep in love with that she abandoned her morals to be with once more. It isn’t a pretty script but it’s as real as TV has come close to capturing the lives of a woman. Career, love, family…race aside, “Being Mary Jane” is relatable on so many levels.
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