Scandal vs. Being Mary Jane

Scandal Being Mary Jane2I can’t say that I am a Gladiator, but I do keep up with the show. Who doesn’t love a good “SCANDAL”. However, when I heard about the creation of BET’s “Being Mary Jane” with Gabrielle Union and learned that she too would be playing a mistress I began to become concerned about the images these networks are presenting for black woman and successful women as a whole. Kerry Washington and Gabrielle’s characters are both attractive, intelligent, successful, headstrong black women who have a killer wardrobe, an affinity for wine, and who are sleeping with married men. The stark difference in their affairs, at least from my opinion, is Olivia Pope knew that The President was married when they began their affair whereas Mary Jane Paul had no idea. Both women tried to leave their lovers alone only to end up back in their beds repeatedly because they had fallen in love with forbidden fruit. As the last season ended, Olivia and The President seem to have taken a break. Mary Jane had an attack of conscience and sent her lover home to his wife and kids. She even apologized to his wife and asked her to take him back.

I have to say that I enjoy “Being Mary Jane” more and that is probably because I can relate to her better. As a broadcast journalism major who once wanted to be a TV anchor, until I fell in love with radio, I love being able to go behind the scenes of the news desk. All the newsroom woes they present are the very reasons I chose not to pursue the field. It takes a special person to do that job. I’m big enough to admit it wasn’t for me but I have much respect for the profession and the people who do it. I still work hand in hand with them in my role as a publicist.

Now back to the shows……

“Scandal” is about a woman serving as the White House publicist with an extraordinary amount of power she uses to control the lives of others like a puppet master even if it means lying, stealing, hacking computer files, and injuring others. Her tactics can either help or inflict great harm. No wonder she has no problem sleeping with a married man and was actually about to help him tear the country apart by allowing him to leave his pregnant wife while in office. Her clients in most cases have done bad things that they are trying to keep from ruining their careers, marriages and lives– whether it be theirs or others. Mary Jane’s job requires her to decide which stories are newsworthy but juicy enough to keep her ratings up. Sometimes that means hurting people she cares about. Oh. we can’t forget that she and her money seem to be the glue helping to keep her family together. Out of all of the children born to her retired airline father and Lupus-stricken mother she is the only one who seems to be stable and have a full-time job. Her oldest brother is a recovering drug addict, her younger brother, who is in college, is a dope dealer and her niece, who has some serious self-esteem issues, is having her second child out of wedlock by a man she says has pretty hair and will make pretty babies. Mary Jane’s passionate desire for them to get it together often makes her appear extremely bossy and lacking compassion at times.Although, I must say the level of dysfunction in her family is over the top, if you ask me.

As far as the affairs are concerned, unlike Mary Jane, Olivia didn’t leave the president alone because she had a fit of conscience about what they were doing was wrong. She left the president alone because she realized that his wife needs him more. She was raped by her father-in-law and was mourning the death of her eldest son.Yes, it’s safe to say she needs the ole leader of the free world by her side. Honestly, I don’t think that Olivia Pope is a very good role model for women but she was never designed to be. The creator of the show, Shonda Rhimes, said so herself. Although I do like that Olivia doesn’t believe in running around killing people. Her resident assassin, Huck, would knock off his own mother if she told him to. Yet, she has connived, stolen elections and helped orchestrate plans to make sure no one found out to get to the top and keep her clients there. Yet, she is not without some likeable qualities and she does have a heart. Mary Jane Paul is no angel either, but her job is less conniving. She seems to have a good heart as well and is woman enough to clean up her messes to the best of her ability and walk away. Actually that is exactly where “Scandal” left off this past season with Olivia on a plane escaping the madness that had become her life. But I guess you would be messed up too if you found out that both your parents were professional killers: one for the government and the other for terrorist groups. Olivia does try to do good when she can. Several ill-fated things on the show are completely out of her hands, like Cyrus’s desire to do anything to keep the president in office, that includes killing a church full of people. Or her father’s desire to do anything to keep his job at MI-16 or whatever it’s called and to keep The President away from his daughter. However, both shows seem to tout the message black women can’t have it all. If you have successful business women, they’re going to have crappy personal lives. This includes their families and their lovers. And ladies, if you can’t find a single man you like, it’s perfectly okay to try somebody’s husband. Please note my sarcasm.

However, if all were perfect they wouldn’t be successful TV shows, now would they? Let’s just chalk this up to great entertainment not meant to impart good messages. Get ready to grab your favorite snack and enjoy the new season people! I’ll be watching myself. It’s my guilty pleasure. It’s just television….right?

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