Well, it depends on whom you ask. The
surprisingly popular BET show has garnered positive reviews, scathing criticisms and relatively high numbers. The show is about an African American woman in her early to mid-thirties with a thriving career in journalism. Unfortunately, her personal life isn’t as impressive. The show, now in its second season, began its freshman run with audiences (and Mary Jane herself) quickly finding out that the man of her dreams wasn’t as dreamy as he appeared. Long story short, he was married, but incredibly gorgeous. You see her dilemma. No late-night drama is complete without the archetypical love triangle. Two handsome men – one single and one available- the decision should be simple, right? Nope. To be fair, I’m willing to bet that this geometric love affair is reason behind much of Mary Jane’s viewership. We’ve also met Mary Jane’s family. It is crazy, complicated and even loving at times- just like most of ours.
Successful woman of color- check. Steamy love triangle- check. Realistically dysfunctional family- check. So what’s the problem? Well, nobody likes a side chick. You can find Urban Dictionary’s definitions at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sidechick&defid=2201414 . Even Olivia Pope’s undeniably brilliant career as a political “fixer” on Scandal is constantly overshadowed by her unsavory affair with the President of the United States. Reality shows of questionable taste (I’m talking to you, Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop) accomplish an incredible feat by bringing in respectable views with unsympathetic casts. One of the main criticisms of these women are that hardly any of them are actually wives, and some of them are rumored to have been the mistresses of athletes. Why are these women given such harsh criticism when their male cohorts are not? Many of them have been able to turn banal existences into profitable careers (gotta love club appearances and bottle service). Are these women lauded for their accomplishments? No. Instead, they are constantly being referred to as home wreckers, despite the amount of time that has passed since these indiscretions.
Am I advocating for the side chick? No. Am I supporting the eponymous characters role. Not exactly. I am asking people to ask themselves a few simple questions: Why, after considering a character/ person’s redeeming personality traits, are their mistakes held at such a higher plateau? Why do these issues overshadow other aspects of their personality? During every episode of the Gabrielle Union vehicle, we are shown quick clips of real women explaining how and/ or why they can relate to this character. Does anyone really want to watch a show where the main character does not have issues or does not make the wrong decisions? Who can relate to that? If anything, I wish these representations of women of color would come up with more original character development. Okay, we get it, extramarital affairs are easy to write and scandalous enough to bring in views. What I would really like to see is how a successful woman (of color or otherwise) was able to pay off all of her student loans and afford a mortgage whilst keeping her sanity.
Signed, the Black Pop Tart
P.S. – Feel free to watch this hilarious video by the one and only Kid Fury, who is clearly over the hype.