The other night, I decided to watch “Being Mary Jane” for the first time. Now I’ve already heard a ton of positive and negative comments about the series, mostly from the same people who praise or deride “Scandal,” but I decided I would take in a full episode to see what all the fuss is about for myself. Although I’m not familiar with the storyline, it wasn’t too difficult to pick up and the live-tweeting from everyone else also helped to bring me up to speed. Most of the “Being Mary Jane” episode was interesting, but the part that resonated with me the most was when Mary Jane argued with Niecy Patterson and was read about being single, childless, and miserable. The scene itself wasn’t incredibly interesting, but the conversations it initiated on Twitter were fascinating as hell.
Immediately, there were tweets either cheering on Niecy or supporting Mary Jane’s resolve and inner-strength for being resolute in not following society’s strict and narrow demands of single Black women. The fact that people got so deep over one interaction only reminded me that our collective interest in this show is mainly two-fold, as it provides us with A) quality entertainment and B) the ability to explore our own issues through the characters. While some people watch to see intriguing characters locked in dramatic scenarios, many of us see ourselves in the characters and the situations the show presents, and that’s what keeps us tuning in.
Those I follow on Twitter, and viewers of the show, were basically split into two separate camps after that scene, but the groups weren’t created by that moment on the show. They’ve existed for a long time. There are the traditionalists who believe that single Black women should find themselves a good Black man and stop pretending that their degrees will keep them warm at night. And there are the progressives who think single Black women should stop pining for a man and a family, and be great as an individual.