1 Guy, 1 Girl: Commentary on BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane’

Being Mary Jane Gabrielle Union


Mary Jane could possibly be a older, more successful me.

Even though I’m six years shy of 30, I see blatant similarities between myself and Gabrielle Union’s Mara Brock Akil-created character. This 30-something-year-old femme–who balances a sucky dating life, struggles with being the breadwinner of a family, and boasts a highly successful journalism career as a news anchor–is the face of so many Black women in today’s society. Indeed, this is a face that many welcome seeing but others may feel hits way too close to home. But, Mary Jane is a truth that men, and even some women, aren’t ready to face. However, it’s a reality that I believe several Black women need to be prepared to see on TV again.
We miss Joan Clayton on Girlfriends, so why not have a more in-depth Joan Clayton-esque character to relate to. Although this 60-minute mini-movie only scratches the surface of who Mary Jane is, the audience witnessed several dynamics within MJ. She’s awkward, funny, unsure, insecure, confident, scared, and an open book for people to directly connect with. To be scared that you’ll never find The One or to be unsure that you’ll ever have a family or to constantly question if you’re too independent–all that is real for a lot of women.
Face it: there isn’t an astronomical amount of Black men who aren’t intimidated by a Black woman’s overwhelming success. And in that, yes, you’ll find that women often masturbate to keep their sex lives awake, cry at baby commercials longing to be mothers, and end up settling for sex over relationships just to feel not alone.
Mara and Salim dig deep with MJ, into the detailed intricacies of a Black woman in 2012. I think it’s necessary to show how one woman’s story relates to so many others’ triumphs and tribulations in dating (and family life).–Niki McGloster


As I watched Mary Jane in the opening scene my initial questions were: Is this what the road to 40 looks like? Are older women still naive to the fact that casual sex, is just casual sex? Do women pray to God after sex for a sign that they can keep him?

The biggest question was: “Do I know a Mary Jane?”

She was a likable character, and I could easily see her as one of my family, colleagues and friends. However, guys should never be exposed to your “mary jane” tendencies. I realized that I don’t like to see women, especially Black women, appear to be so desperate, naive and emotionally jaded.

Why do I not want to know Mary Jane? Well, because I don’t want to be the guy that made her that way.  It’s clear that as we grow older, the relationship dynamics change, but what’s too real is knowing that a girl masturbates before seeing her date because she doesn’t want to want to have sex him, that she is so desperate to have a child that she is willing to do the unthinkable, that even after a man cheats, many women will stay to avoid being alone. Knowing all of that my mother will watch (and enjoy) Being Mary Jane made me want to change, and that reality is one that I’m not okay with.–Byron Edwards