TV and Movies

Mara Brock Akil’s ‘Being Mary Jane’ is a Good Look for BET

Yesterday, I attended the Chicago screening for Being Mary Jane, BET’s latest original series, written by Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends). I was pleasantly surprised at the good time I had, so lemme tell ya about it.

I won’t give away any plot points you can’t find out in the show trailer so no worries about essential spoilers here.

Being Mary Jane

Being Mary Jane stars Gabrielle Union as Mary Jane Paul, a successful talk news show host and overall lady about her business. Her success has made her the family cash cow and it’s a role she begrudgingly accepts because blood is thicker than greenbacks.

Meanwhile, she’s failing on the love front because she can’t seem to find the partner she wants, coming home to an empty house with no tea for her baby fever. She’s smart, successful and single. But she’s ready to settle down and find her a real lifelong boothang.

It’s not an untold story by any means but Being Mary Jane actually does a really good job with blowing the dust off. It was funny without trying and it was easy to connect with the character of Mary Jane because her struggles are real.

Gabrielle Union was great as MJ, not just because she plays sassy better than most but she has this girl next door quality that worked for the character. Powerful but painfully lonely, and sick of being the person everyone leans on without someone she can lean on herself. I think we all know a couple of MJs (or we might be her ourselves).

The character had more depth than Miss Attitude ALLATAHM so I appreciated that (she had some real breakdown moments). You know those “Omg I’m gonna cry but I’m not going to because I can’t but why are my eyes raining right now against my will?” moments. MMHMM.

I liked the fact that she had relatable relationships with the folks in her life (like the one with her brother who is Team Bad Decisions). There’s a scene where she finds out her teenage niece is pregnant and she goes OFF. She storms in a room where her entire family is sitting and goes “I love you guys. I really really do. But there are too many damn kids in this family and not enough people feeding them! Seriously, who has a job in this room? Raise your hand!” And she was the only one with her hand up. I was like:

dumbledore welp gif

Mary Jane is also Team Bad Decisions in her dating life so we get to see that. Including her trysts with a man who is more than just emotionally unavailable. The interesting thing was that they actually touched on some not-so-safe and PG things about being a sexual woman.

There’s a scene where Mary Jane is about to go on a late night date with one of her ex-boy toys and she takes some time for herself (with a toy) before she leaves so she won’t be thirsty when she sees him. Everyone was in the audience like “Ooooooo.” Mmhmmm. They even shot that scene in red. Just lustful.

The mini-movie ended in a cliffhanger that made me wanna watch what’s next. This was just the pilot and teaser for what will be the newest series on BET. The premiere is on Tuesday, July 2 at 9:30 CT but the series doesn’t kick off until January 2014. I was actually disappointed by that because if it had kicked off this summer, it coulda filled our Scandal void. It’s smart, funny and worth a watch. You can view the (slightly misleading) trailer HERE.

Mara Brock Akil was at the screening, so there was a Q&A afterwards. She said she wrote Being Mary Jane because it was a character that had been in her head for a while and it kept coming back to her. And there are pieces of herself that she sees in the character. She uses her writing as catharsis and there’s certain struggles in the story that it helped her with.

Luvvie Mara Brock Akil

Me and the awesome Mara Brock Akil

Most of the time, networks jump on board and buy shows that are pitched to them with finished scripts but BET bought the IDEA of Being Mary Jane. That’s how much they believed in Mara’s vision. And her hubby, Salim, the other half of AKIL Productions read the script when she was done and thought Gabby would be the perfect person to play her.

Mara also dropped some gems when asked how she approaches the fact that her work might not be welcome on a channel like NBC or ABC. She said she no longer bothers herself with that. And that’s why she felt BET was the right network for this passion project of hers. She didn’t have to change any of the characters, and she would have had to if Being Mary Jane was on any other channel. And I loved this quote from her:

"I am water. What does water do when it hit a barrier? It goes around it." - Mara Brock Akil

Word up.

BET’s tryna upgrade it’s life in 2013, yall! And Being Mary Jane is a good start. Are you gonna watch it when it premieres?

P.S. Shourrout to the lady with a high loc bun who decided to sit in row 1, and in the middle seat at the screening. I was in row 3. So when the movie started playing, she was blocking my (and 2 other people) view. This was what I was seeing:

High Loc Bun Rude

The chairs weren’t theater style, so this was just so inconvenient. I went and asked her if she could move one seat to the right and she looked at me like I spoke French. And then she stayed there. THAT was hella inconsiderate. If you have tall hair, the least you can do is consider other people and not sit smack dab in the middle. i thought it was incredibly rude. Especially since I asked her nicely and she didn’t move. Folks, please don’t be THAT person. Ugh.

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  1. June 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Speaking of Team Bad Decisions, why would BET put the pilot on in July and the series in January? I want to watch this, but what if between July and January I’ve found a tv show in that timeslot that I like to watch? I think that’s bad marketing. I love Mara Brock Akil and everthing she does and I saw the preview this weekend that made me want to watch.

  2. FelicityR
    June 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I’m excited about this! I didn’t even know that Mara Brock Akil had something in the works. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the trailer yet, but I sure will when I get home.

    The main character does seem to be a lot like Joan Clayton, though. At least, that’s what I got from what I’ve read about the show. Are the characters really that similar?

    • June 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Nah. You won’t get Joan Clayton vibes from Mary Jane at all. They might both make bad love life decisions but that’s kinda where the similarities end.

  3. June 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I have to admit that I had my reservations about tuning in because as much as I want to support BET we all know they have dropped the ball. So thanks for sharing your thoughts, I’ll definitely be watching.

    • June 3, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Yeah I was pleasantly surprised.

  4. June 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I saw a clip of the living room scene that Luvvie mentioned, and I damn near did a standing ovation in front of my laptop, because they know my muthafreakin’ life! I have a family full of people who aren’t doing much with their lives, and I wish I had support to be successful in life, yet I’m pushing myself and watching everyone around me make dumb decisions that ultimately they want help getting out of, or they damn near drag me down with them. I swear, I’d be so much further in life without their damn sabotage. I think I’m going to really like this series.

    • June 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      Being “the successful one” is a blessing and a curse because the Team Bad Decision kins always look to you to save them from foolishness.

      • Da Queen
        July 3, 2013 at 1:01 am

        I’m in the same situation and recently came to the realization that I am Blessed to be a Blessing!

  5. June 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Well….. Sounds like they made a show about my life.

    • June 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      Girl! I’m like “I know this person.” Mmmhmm.

  6. opal
    June 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Lookin like Halle Berry in B.A.P.S and shit. “Ma’am, can you please lower your hair?” 0_0

    • June 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      LMAO! Right. I was like “ain’t this some shit?”

  7. Bukky
    June 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    This sounds really good. I haven’t turned to BET in like 7 years…they just may get me back.

  8. Deja
    June 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Ill reluctantly watch this because of your recommendation, but if i see Taraji, Shemar, Tyrese and/or Vivica, i just…no.

    • June 4, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Ha! Exactly!

    • June 5, 2013 at 8:50 am

      Aawww. I like Taraji!

      • Chelle
        July 3, 2013 at 5:15 am

        LOL love that silent shade thrown on Vivica, Shemar, and Tyrese right there.

  9. MimiLuvs
    June 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    (grimaces) Do I really have to tune into BET to watch this show? Can I wait until Roscoe starts selling the bootlegs while I am getting my press-and-curl?
    (scoffs and stamps foot)
    I already give donations to the United Negro College Fund! And pass out Devry pamphlets to the girls that stand in front of the bodegas at 10 in the morning! Shouldn’t that be enough?

    • June 4, 2013 at 2:49 am


  10. TiffTalk
    June 4, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Anything touched by Mara Brock Akil is worth giving a look. I will DVR it for sure.

  11. June 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Awesome! I hadn’t planned on watching, I will now. I agree that I wish it was ready to go. And yes, you’re right. I still need something to do on Thursday nights. #ScandalObsessed

  12. JamieP
    June 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Why the heck is everything trying to air on Tuesdays!! The Haves and The Have Nots, The Game and Now Being MJ. I have not given up on the Game despite the fact that if I hear “Bout that life!” one more time I’m gonna throw up (I think I see some hope of a return to what we loved about it peaking thru every now and then)…

  13. Leo the Yardie Chick
    June 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    *is intrigued* I’ll tune in. I haven’t watched BET in years, and this sounds worth the while.

  14. Jessie
    June 15, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Love the review. Here is my review of the movie, I went to go see it in DC. It was amazing.

  15. Ms. Brome
    July 2, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    I think you revealed several scenes in the spoiler tradition. Glad I saw it before reading.

    • July 2, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      True. But I didn’t reveal anything essential.

  16. keisha brown
    July 3, 2013 at 12:53 am

    i too wish they had filled the scandal void, but as long as they dont air on thursdays… im cool.
    as for the show – there is so much in it that many of us can relate to, so it will do well (as long as BET doesn’t get in the way like they did with The Game).

    thanks for the (p)recap!

  17. […] that person extra vacay time because all these great decisions they’re making. First with Being Mary Jane, then with the fact that the awards was actually decent this year. And now, they’re gonna […]

  18. […] be following them for the remainder of the semester. Originally I chose BET Network, since Being Mary Jane had just premiered, BET Honors were coming up, and The BET Experience is in the planning stages. I […]

  19. Dolores
    May 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I just saw the marathon of Being Mary Jane, I love Being Mary Jane and can’ t wait until the next season. When will the new season start? Is the first two seasons on a DVD? Where can I buy them?