You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

Thoughts On ‘Being Mary Jane’ After Last Night’s Pilot Movie Broadcast Premiere?

Thoughts On 'Being Mary Jane' After Last Night's Pilot Movie Broadcast Premiere?

After a lengthy wait, since it was first announced, and build up in anticipation, you’ve finally seen the pilot movie that the expected series will be based on (or is it the other way around), assuming you tuned in to last night’s broadcast premiere on BET.

So what did you think of Being Mary Jane, the team-Akil (Mara Brock & Salim) project made for the #1 black TV network in the USA that seems on course towards a turnaround?

Unfortunately, I didn’t watch it, primarily because I canceled my cable TV service a little while ago (long story short, I just didn’t think the cost was worth it; and with so many other ways to consume content, I didn’t see as much value in having cable TV service as I once did years ago).

But I know a lot of you did watch, given the traffic on my Twitter feed last night, while it aired.

For those who didn’t, and want to, I’m sure there’ll be encore broadcasts of the movie over the next week. And if you’re like me, without cable TV service, and are curious, I expect BET will make the entire pilot available on its website sooner than later.

Again, for those who tuned in, your thoughts? And also, can you imagine it as a TV series – because that’s the end goal here, with the network and the Akils aiming for a 2014 debut of Being Mary Jane as an episodic TV serial?

I expect to receive a press release revealing viewership for last night’s broadcast, which I’ll share here once I have the numbers.

Gabrielle Union stars as the title character, with Omari HardwickRichard RoundtreeMargaret AveryLisa VidalRichard BrooksTika SumpterRaven GoodwinB.J. BrittAaron SpearsLatarsha RoseStephen Bishop and Robinne Lee, rounding out the cast.

Dig in…

This Article is related to: News and tagged , ,


Melva L. Florance

I only wanted to watch #beingmaryjane because I saw the promo where Gabrielle Union's character was mad about the Psychology Today Article asking ‘Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?’ I didn't necessarily want black women "up in arms" trying to take over Psychology Today's offices but I was hoping for some intelligent discussion, at least among us about this situation. Like for example maybe a "Why is everybody always picking on us?" discussion – and not in a woe is me, me is woe and all is woe in woe-ville kinda way, but an introspective dissection of the myriad of ways black women are kicked, beaten and stomped down – and then judged for spazzing out.

Then of course there is this unhealthy fear of being seen as the angry blakc woman even when being confronted with something that should justifiably make us angry. Maybe we could have a conversation about the humanity, demonstrating emotion, being socialized right out of us, or maybe the crippling effects of "political correct-ess" I don't know something besides the "…ain't nobody paying that no attention" response. So while my commentary is not directly about the show, I like that it was intelligently relevent, timely and has the potential to spark conversation.

I don't like that at 40, Gabrielle Union is playing a 28 year old which also brings up the issue of black representation even among black writers, producers and networks. You mean to tel me there wasn't a mid-20s black actress to play this role? Or you mean to tell me that this story couldn't be told from a 40 year old single woman's perspective? I think it could, because a 40 year old single woman is playing the role and it is the reality of so many women"of a certain age" who have never been married.

Doo Wop

Best produced material to ever grace a BET screen. Were there things that were a bit over the top–maybe, but so are the lives of many of us. Great acting job by GU, I didn't think she could carry a show, I've been reeducated. The high minded posts on here telling us all how ratchet it is and mentioning flashes of ghetto behavior are just that, a bit high minded. You all are either being a bit dismissive about the lives of our people or in denial. Yes 'hoe baths' take place even by those who have their sh@t together in ever other aspect of there lives. Yes sometimes the 'successful' family member gets fed up by the 2nd, 3rd or 4th illegitimate child they end up paying for even though they didn't create—causing them to fly into a ghetto rage. Good, not great show but has plenty of time and talent to get better. Go BET, I might watch you more that once a year.

Please excuse misspellings and other errors, my editor/wife is sleeping

Cynthia Woods

Great, Great show


I'm beginning to think that they're not allowing black women onto tv shows (reality and scripted) unless they exhibit some type of serious dysfunctional behavior. I agree with another commenter who said that it wasn't a good move to base this entire show around her relationship status. I feel like it would have been more significant to show her struggle up the corporate ladder or if they had to focus on her love life, it would have been more interesting to see her have an inner struggle with herself. Like maybe she was struggling with being celibate or maybe she's a virgin who's struggling to date in a hypersexual society. In this show/movie I felt like they wanted us to feel sorry for Mary Jane and her situation but they kept showing her doing counterproductive things that made her situation look as though it was all her fault. It was kind of depressing to watch.

In the show Scandal, Olivia Pope's love life is an utter mess as well, but since the show revolves around how great of a fixer she is, we like Olivia because she wears the white hat when it comes to her job. However, at the same time, we feel for her situation with her messy love life because her being so good at her job contributes to her lack of success in the love department. It's her one big downfall and they're connected. Shonda is a very good writer because it's not easy to show these nuances and to make a strong character like Olivia Pope vulnerable and likeable. She could easily tread into arrogant asshole territory or being the 'entitled' other woman that Mary Jane seemed to become in that Pet Store.

In being Mary Jane, I felt myself blaming Mary Jane's love life on Mary Jane and the desperate decisions she was making, rather than feeling that she was some type of victim. They made her into the 'booty call' girl that was easy with the goods and it's hard to feel sorry for that person not getting wifed up when she's doing counterproductive stuff. Not looking for a perfect character here, but simply put she needed to have some significant redeeming qualities for us to look past the stupid things she was doing. For Olivia Pope, it's the White Hat. Not sure what that is for Mary Jane and that needed to be set up in this pilot episode.

What I did like about the show was the family aspect. I thought it was refreshing to see what it's like to be the matriarch and most successful member of a very flawed family. It's a fine line to walk and I think a lot of successful black women go through this. You want to help your family but you don't want to enable them. You want them to do better for themselves but they have to want to do better for themselves, so you just find yourself out of breath and disappointed time after time. I do however wish that a lot of what was happening with the family was more clear and not so choppy. I hope that it comes out more in the show.

I thought the masturbation scene, the used condoms, the ho bath, and the semen scenes were too much and totally unnecessary. I guess they were trying to be edgy but it was not needed and I was kinda grossed out by it. It took me out of the story and again had me searching for the redeeming qualities in Mary Jane. This chick is professional and wants to have it all, yet she's running around acting like a teenager. I can't root for her when she's doing silly stuff like that as a grown woman. I felt that those few scenes took away every ounce of class that they had attempted to show in Mary Jane and I was shaking my head by the end of the movie.

I'll definitely check out the show when it airs to see if it gets better and to see what transpires with the family aspect but I was certainly hoping for more from this.


Okay, I'll hop in here and be the minority. I didn't like it so much. I was disappointed that the central theme of the show is based on MJ finding " a man". I've never been a fan of shows where that is the central theme of a woman's life. It leaves the character to be defined by " the man" in her life. The bulk of the show concentrates on this issue as opposed to her career and the issues she wants to raise through her vehicle as a tv journalist. The two, finding a man and career, from my perspective are out of balance.
To link to the "personal life" issues I must have counted at least 4 scenes where we see MJ, was alone, melodramatic music playing, no dialogue, she's just there contemplating her life and the heartaches, the parental drama, the sibling drama, etc. That's too much. Too melodramatic, just too syrupy. It made me think of a USA today MOW. It's boring and lazy I'd say. We could catch glimpses of this within the context of her interacting with other characters, this would allow Union to stretch as an actress and show off the nuance of the character.
I won't go into, " the majority of the men are dogs and shiftless", that' too tiresome for me.
Stereotypes were thick. When she went over to dude's house from the network I was saying, "please don't be gay, please don't be gay." Not because I didn't want see a gay character but because it's a stereotype. MJ can only have a cool, caring relationship with a gay man? She cannot have a relationship with a non-gay man unless it's an intimate one. This writing, I think, labels MJ as immature. If you want a gay male character, then why not have his roommate come in, be non-gay and MJ have a cool caring relationship with both. Women cannot have supportive relationships with men? The writing here disappoints.
For me, MJ's character just doesn't seem to fit who she is. She's smart, assertive, passionate and thoughtful(researching Bill Duke's film was a nice touch). But, she busts in on niecy, and puts her on blast in front of the rest of the family. That just doesn't seem right. You'd think she' d get upset, but restrain herself enough to speak to her niece in a manner that educates and does not demean her in such a way. That scene was way too ghetto for MJ's character. There are issues that the child is dealing with or has not even thought of and MJ is just coming in and making her feel lower than low, yet MJ wants to do a show on why Black girls and women see themselves as ugly. Confusing
I will watch additional episodes if they come. I really liked what Mara Brock Akil did with Girlfriends. It started out as a sitcom but evolved and addressed issues that dealt with the relationships of the characters in a real honest way. But the first ep of Being Mary Jane did not give me the sense that I can't wait for the next episode to see what happens. I can wait.
And those who think that it was too graphic, Seriously? You want reality or you want B.S.?
People kiss, they have sex, they use condoms, they do all sorts of things to express lust, caring, need, intimacy and love. This is life. This SHOULD be expressed in a show that attempts to depict real lives.


I thoroughly enjoyed "Being Mary Jane," and look forward to the series debut. The writing was fresh, the acting on point, and ALL that eye candy? Oh yeah, I'll be watching! Great job, Team Akil, BET, Ms. Union, and all involved. It's about time we had some options other than all the so-called "reality show" garbage that's on right now. I've been waiting for a great scripted drama to watch that deals with current issues in a mature, realistic way, so I'm one who appreciated all the topics addressed in the pilot. You threw a lot at us, and I'm excited to see where things go from here with the characters and various story lines. I'm already drawn in! It looks like #Being Mary Jane will help me fill one night of the week with real, raw, educational, and entertaining television-watching!~CHH


I loved it.

sankhofa jones

Honestly, I was shocked. This is extremely honest for BET. I know MJ! Went to college with her…worked under her at an internship. She's my sister, mother, and best friend all rolled into one. Kudos to Gabrielle for bringing such an extraordinarily normal character to life. Everyone's acting was on point.

I hope this quality is kept up once the series starts. I also hope, however, that every can that was opened during the pilot isn't thrown at us all at once. Give her time to flesh out and time for us to grow in and experience Mary Jane Paul. Not bad at all.

Ricky Horne

I thought this was the best piece of material the Akil's have ever put out. By far.


Gabrielle Union KILLED Kerry Washington. Yep, that what I said, Gabrielle's performance in Being Mary Jane overshadowed Kerry's acting in Scandals. But maybe, in fairness to Ms. Washington, Scandals, unfortunately, is not focused on Olivia Pope. Consequently, unlike Mary Jane, Kerry's character does not require a broad range of emotions.

On the other hand, Gabrielle has to bring it in nearly every scene. And, I think she's doing the damn thang.

In reference to the film being "too graphic", someone will have to splain-that-to-me. Granted, we saw adults doing adult thangs, but "graphic", it was NOT. We didn't see skin touching skin going in and out, so I just don't get it. But I had to laugh at YOWZA's description of the "ho-bath". Well, while I was watching the program with my lady, she called it the same thang. She actually said "look a Gabrielle giving herself a ho-bath, I am never gonna look at her in the same way". *lol*

But my favorite scene was the exchange between her and ol'dude's wife. DAMN! That actress carried that scene and I felt her pain. In fact, that scene could have been written more graphic and/or more real. Not that it wasn't well written but if it was on HBO, not BET, I could see the wife saying "Bit*h, if you don't get out of my motherfu*kin' face with that bullsh*t, I will fu*k you up. You had the gull to tell me me you've been screwin' my husband, and now you want me to do WHAT… with your skank ass"

But of course they didn't go there but nevertheless the scene was riveting. In fact, most of the acting was on par. So although I never thought I'd say this, BET has a hit on their hands. And, hat tip to the producers who obviously knows their audience. I mean, one can't go wrong when they touch every base, and Being Mary Jane left no crowds behind. The gang was all there… baby mamma drama, homosexuals, SEX, attractive black women, good looking black men, good acting, MESS and a compelling story-line featuring a professional black woman. Yep, the gangs all here… controversy with a capital "C".

Monique a Williams

Fresh. Relatable. Sharp. Solid. Enjoyed it very much. Looking forward to the January premiere. #newfave


I caught the Encore tonight and was actually, pleasantly surprised. Akil has created a very complex, complicated character in Mary Jane. I think many of the scenarios were realistic and relatable, although the scenes with her on the toilet and calling her (Ex? boyfriend) brought a little TOO much realism for me, I will tune in again, when it becomes a regular series, to see how things play out.

Actually, appreciated the twist with MJ confronting her lover's wife and confessing the affair. I found that refreshing.

She's definitely stepped it up a notch, in her work, with this series.


I was very skeptical of this being a series at first. Due to the previews of the film. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the strong sense of story, the compelling complexities of Mary Jane's character and the world around her. Mara knocked this one out the park. The ending made my jaw drop. The show was very edgy but realistic. I look forward to this evolving into a series, I hope the producer's focus on the drama and let the comedy creep in on its own


I thought it was SO good. Gabrielle was great and she was an interesting multi-dimensional character. She has the "dream job" and held it together and was fabulous on the outside, but on the inside there was a whole lotta mess. Just like most of us. Nothing dysfunctional, just family life and love life "mess". I loved it. In my opinion, the masturbatory scene was one of honesty and not titillation. It let us know who Pauletta-uh Mary Jane is. She was "controlling her thirst"
I also liked how she gave herself a ho-bath when she got the booty call. It happens. a I really enjoyed it.
I just knew folks would be up in arms about the self-love scene. Glad people are shaking things up for us. We really need to get over ourselves sometimes.
Thanks for an incredible column and for giving us a great forum!!

Now GO get cable back. It's crucial to the work you do and all of your readership ! I'm sure someone will bankroll it for you. We need you to have it. Print this out and show it to your bosses.


Enjoyed the pilot with Gabrielle. I agree her character was a bit over-the-top but will probably be smoothed-out in the series. She is a fine actress with great comedic timing (see DELIVER US FROM EVA). I would not be surprised if that "HANDS! Everybody raise your hand who has a JOB in this room!" was an adlib. She does that often. Waiting for the series.


Oh lord, the pious crowd is out in force tonight I see. Y'all thought this was "too graphic"? Really? Or is this the same commenter posting under different names.

I like the movie enough. It served its purpose. I was entertained, even though I didn't see myself in the character, but I could understand her story. It fits BET's aesthetic so it will be a bit. I'm just wondering how it'll work as a TV show though. That remains to be seen.

Disapointed in Georgia

I was disapointed in Being Mary Jane; graphic sex in the last part of the first scene. The 'did you masturbate' before going out meeting the guy. Male homosexuals kissing. Clearly, this show has an agenda. This should come with an IMMORAL rating of Rated X and not for anyone under 25.


Personally I thought it was too graphic. I didn't know BET would show such things. It was kind of disgusting.


I watched it last night as well…I was just wondering, what is the relationship between B.J.Britt and Gabrielle's characters? Are they siblings or cousins or something else?


I liked it to a certain extent (Gabriel was good). But jeeez, they threw in everything but the kitchen sink.
Finding out boyfriend is married – check.
Disappointed, sick Mom- check.
Trifling brother with no job and has a fat White girlfriend, who also doesn’t have a job – check.
Sister who is young and keeps getting pregnant – check
Trifling niece who’s pregnant by dude who impregnated another girl – check.
She apparently is the only breadwinner in family supporting older parents, and trifling unemployed siblings, and of course they don’t appreciate her – check.
Gay best friend – check.
Come on. Was it necessary to have all of this? Most of us experience one or two, but all this? Too be honest it felt a bit depressing.


I liked it, will definitely watch once its a series. & I didn't think it was graphic at all. The moments of honesty/embarrassment were refreshing. Good job by all!

D.C. Kirkwood

I enjoyed the movie. I was surprised that the production quality was good and the casting they chose was great. I enjoy the Vidal lady who plays her married friend and the guy from law and order who plays her brother. I think her and Omari Hardwick have great chemistry together. The story had some nice twists as well. I was plesantly surprised. Good job BET. It's about time.


I loved the film when I saw it at the Urban World Film Festival. The graphic scenes didn't bother me. It happens in real life…


I really enjoyed the show. I'm a fan. Although some of the scenes were graphic, I did enjoy the storylines and am eager to find out what happens later to Gabby's character. Well done, BET!


I watched as well. While there were scenes that I could totally relate to there were some awkward moments I couldnt get over. The long pauses for dramatic affect were weird. The scene before she meets her ex was also a little off, but maybe that would resonate with some women. Just not me. Also it felt like nothing in this woman's life could go right! I was kind of depressed at the end. Not sure I could deal with a whole season of nothing but bad/sad til the season finale. I guess I like more of a mix in my shows. I'll watch the first couple of episodes and see where it goes.


Well done! I'm impressed. It was good.
A bit too graphic for my taste….the scene in which she pleasured herself in her office was a bit much….and that whole collecting of semen in the baster was flat out disgusting! I don't think I was prepared for that…
And not to compare this show with others but I did catch a few 'Scandal – Olivia Pope' moments.
But overall, it is a great show!
Gabby's acting was a little over-the-top at times but I think she'll tone down her character.
Other than that, it was good…I think I'll tune in again.
Go'head BET!
(btw: Gabby & Tika are a treat & delight to the eyes!! And Omari….that man is freakishly handsome!)

arnold drummond

Gabrielle made me a fan. My wife and I have been chatting all day about different storylines, so I know we'll be tuning in whenever the series starts.


Honestly, I was enjoying the program up until the gay couple.

When I realized that one of the supporting characters was a gay black man, I CHEERED. When I saw that his companion was a white man, my heart sunk and I realized that show was leaning toward the idea that "two black gay men" will NEVER ever be shown together romantically in a black drama. Why is it so much easier for black film makers to show a gay black and white man together than a happy and loving black gay couple together? Particularly insulting, men of color in general are treated as second class in general gay culture; they face racism! Yet, the media and straight black filmmakers especially are intent on showing every man of color, double especially black men, as being paired with a white man. Black writers want to bitch and complain about the depiction of "black love" being represented outside cartoon caricature in television, but have no problem stereotyping black gay men. That is two-faced and sideways and hypocritical double B.S.

No, I will not watch or support this show after such a major indiscretion of stereotyping black gay men.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *