Being Mary Jane: Why We Watch Her Man-Stealing Mess

Despite the fact that Mary Jane is an overwrought, damaged home-wrecker, we still love her.

Posted:
 
159363680-gabrielle-union-attends-bet-honors-2013-red-carpet
Gabrielle Union

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for BET

I used to argue that the worst thing about Being Mary Jane was, in fact, Mary Jane.

Don’t get me wrong—BET’s newest scripted drama is a hit for all the right reasons: compelling and complex characters, gossipy twists and addictive cliffhangers. But its center is so unlikely. A character more easily characterized as a villainous, man-stealing side tramp is the focus of the show, and creator Mara Brock Akil is determined to prove MJ’s worth despite such obvious tendencies to … well, to suck at life. Flawed, you say? Not even close.

But, on reflection, the new era of TV has done away with the perfect hero, and shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, Mad Men and more have altered the nature of the protagonist. Being Mary Jane deepens that pit, unafraid to portray its lead as emotionally lost, irrationally bitter, downright unlikable. What is she, exactly? Why do we identify with her? Can Mary Jane, portrayed by Gabrielle Union, even be considered a hero when everything she does wreaks havoc on everyone around her?

Maybe—in a more dramatic way—she’s just like us: imperfect, challenged and struggling to be great, and maybe that’s what makes Mary Jane such an irresistible watch. Amid all our own flaws, we're still searching for a balance of life, some level of normalcy that makes sense, even if only to ourselves. And some of us are wildly irrational in the hunt.

For tonight’s finale, nearly everyone in Mary Jane’s universe comes to terms with their search for happiness and peace, and while Mary Jane may be at her worst, the show’s journey to pick her back up will be its greatest accomplishment.

With all that, here are five spoiler-filled details for tonight’s two-hour send-off: 

Someone is born—and someone dies! While Niecy brings her baby into the world, one new cast member deals with the shocking death of another, and it sends shockwaves through the entire news team and puts Mary Jane’s entire life—personal and public—on the line.

Someone pops a big question. OK, it’s not the question, but it’s a question for MJ, and it’s been a very long time coming, and she’ll be forced to confront the answer head-on, with drastic results.

Mary Jane isn’t done home-wrecking. You may have thought that Mary Jane’s tendency to squeeze in between other men and their women died when she dumped Andre. But that still leaves David, who has an emotional hold on her despite the fact that he’s moved on. Tonight, the exes reunite several times, and Mary Jane puts her heart on the line, with surprising results.

Look for The Root! While we’ve made it clear that Mary Jane has some questionable decision-making skills, be prepared to watch The Root correspondent Keli Goff inside the Being Mary Jane finale giving MJ some extremely tough love. Given what’s to come, our shade will be the least of her worries.

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.
Must-See Family Attractions
July 29 2014 2:13 PM