I am a TV connoisseur. I have a delicate palate for programming that has me shying away from most of what the general viewing public likes. I am not really a fan of reality TV. You’ll never hear me talk about Real Housewives of Anywhere, The Bachelor/rette, and Big Brother, Love & Hip Hop or any of the other favorites of virtually anyone else. According to my significant other, I like high-brow television (whatever that means). I like psychological dramas/thrillers (Criminal Minds is a fave), crime dramas (SVU, NCIS LA, Castle) and a bit of “trashy TV” with those teen “soaps” (yeah, I remember Drake from his days as Jimmy on Degrassi—so much for coming from the bottom…).
Recently, I’ve fallen for shows with women in high powered roles. As I said a few weeks ago here on the blog, I love Scandal (one of the few programs the rest of the viewing world and I seem to agree on). I love Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia Pope, with her take-charge no-nonsense attitude mixed in with a little vulnerability. As a woman of color, it’s refreshing to see someone like Kerry Washington in a starring role that is a character who is not relegated to a stereotypical life (let me not comment on Devious Maids). It’s been a while since we had a show like that. In the 80s we had Phylicia Rashad as Claire Huxtable (lawyer, wife, mom and all around fab woman) and shows like Girlfriends touched on it. But Scandal kind has lead the way for more actresses of color to get lead roles as highly successful, incredibly smart, beautiful, and stylish women in prime-time TV. Yes, they are somewhat flawed. It wouldn’t make for good TV if they weren’t.
With Scandal on hiatus until the fall, there’s another show waiting in the proverbial wings. Enter…being Mary Jane. Starring Gabrielle Union, the new series, debuting tonight, premieres in the form of a 2-hour movie on BET. Yes! BET. Why is this such a big deal? Well, it is the network’s first original drama series (created by the Mara Brock Akil, the producer of other hit series like Girlfriends and The Game). It is also marks Ms. Union’s return to the small screen.
The show centers around Mary Jane Paul, a successful TV anchor and well established woman who is the backbone to her family who don’t necessarily share her drive and ambition. BET assembled an all-star supporting cast (Margaret Avery, Lisa Vidal and Richard Roundtree) to bring this drama to life that touches on major themes of love and family that should be easily identifiable with many of the viewership. “I think you’ll see yourself or somebody that you know. If not Mary Jane, then one of the other characters,” Gabrielle Union said in a telephone interview with the Wall Street Journal.
I have high hopes for being Mary Jane.
Check out the trailer for tonight’s premier. The movie will become a series, expected to air in January.