Simply put, Being Mary Jane was awesome. Mara Brock Akil never disappoints in her stories about black women. With every project, her sense of realism and passion in her work elevates.
It was racy, thought-provoking and best of all, realistic. So realistic that people, myself included, had to blink a few times to make sure this was playing out on network cable on a weeknight before 11 p.m.. This wasn’t Showtime or HBO, this was BET. If that opening scene with Omari Hardwick didn’t make you clutch your pearls, I don’t know what will. Well, maybe her “pre-gaming” before “dinner” with her ex.
Mrs. Akil, honey, you didn’t miss a beat.
Being Mary Jane could have been Being Alisha or Being *Insert any black woman’s name here*possibly. Within the first 15 minutes, it seemed as if every obstacle imaginable was being thrown at her. From dealing with infidelity issues to family issues, including an ill mother and a niece whom she has to stand in the gaps for to fighting to have her—our—stories told on air. Because we do matter. Atleast one facet of her life had to stick out to every woman watching. If it wasn’t her present life, maybe it was her past.
As Mary Jane zoomed away from her magnificent home in her high-priced car, immaculately dressed and seemingly put together, I wondered how many Mary Janes are out here, a pretty package on the outside, but tearing up inside from heavy forces like relationships or family pulling at her heart.
She’s playing second fiddle to a married man’s wife and loan officer to a lazy brother all while trying to ignore an ex whom even her iPhone tells her “Never Answer.” Just when we’d began to have compassion for her and her struggle, her emotions got the best of her, and she chose to inflict pain she already felt on another woman.
Unfortunately, it happens.
What stuck out to me most, though, was a line about her living this straight-laced life. She was the antithesis of ever member of her family: employed, single, had no children out-of-wedlock, responsible and overflowing with ambition and goals. She asked, “What do I have to show for it?”
So much, Mary Jane. So much. But we become so engulfed in what we thought we should have had by now, what we almost had or what everyone else has (if not a combination of them all) that we forget we actually have plenty to show for it. You don’t see when you have to look in the mirror in the quiet time like MJ did, and accept that for now atleast, it’s just you.
There were a ton of lessons and things to think about by the movie’s end, especially her effort to become a mother (totally left field!). The movie will become a series, and I can’t wait to watch. I don’t expect a weekly pity party for Mary Jane and black women, but a balanced story of what we deal with, good and bad because for every trial, there is a triumph.