Monday, September 8, 2014

Scandal vs. Being Mary Jane


 I 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. Kerri 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 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 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. Her passionate desire for them to get it together often makes her appear extremely bossy and lacking compassionate 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. She left the president alone because she realized what being #2 meant….being told to basically shut up because her lover was talking to his wife. Women with that kind of power are used to getting what they want and they don’t take kindly to being put in their place. Yes, Scandal is a juicy tale but if you look at it through a critical moral eye Olivia Pope isn't a very good role model for women. Although I do like that she doesn’t believe in running around killing people.  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. Mary Jane Paul is no angel either, but her job is less conniving. She seems to have a good heart 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 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?

My Side of the Single Life is by book author Jae Henderson. Her inspirational romance novels, Someday, Someday, Too, and Forever and a Day are now available in ebook (Kindle and Nook) and paperback. Get her new ebook Things Every Good Woman Should Know Volume 1 on or V

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