Great News: Gabrielle Union’s ‘Being Mary Jane’ Was Cable TV’s Top Show

Kerry Washington notwithstanding, African American images on television tend to suffer from too much trifling and not enough authenticity—which is ironic considering the overwhelming number of reality shows featuring African Americans currently being thrown in our face. So we were thrilled to witness the dead-on writing and performances in Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil’s “Being Mary Jane,” starring the delightful and hilarious Gabrielle Union.

Union’s portrayal of the hard-driving and successful Mary Jane Paul, whose personal life is deliciously complicated, felt like a mirror propped up in front of the modern black woman. The Akils (Mara as writer and Salim as director) hardly missed a note. And it was so gratifying to see Union sink her pearly whites into a role that fully takes advantage of her considerable comedic skills.

After watching the show on Tuesday night, we were even more thrilled with this bit of very welcome news: “Being Mary Jane” was a ratings smash!

The show scored an impressive 2.0 rating with adults 18-49, bringing in an impressive 4 million viewers. To give more perspective, consider this: Among that most desirable demographic of 18 to 49, only NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” with a rating of 2.3, attracted more viewers than “Being Mary Jane.” The BET original was the highest rated show on all of cable television Tuesday night.

This is the kind of news that gets our hearts racing here at MyBrownBaby because it can have such far-reaching implications. It means that perhaps more studios besides BET will decide to take a chance on bringing real, authentic, believable black characters to the small screen. Perhaps we might be rescued from drowning in the sludge of the reality television horror shows and their scary depictions of black women.

Our hats off to BET for bringing us “Mary Jane,” which is the network’s first scripted drama series. But we do have some bad news: after the debut of the pilot this week, the series doesn’t actually come on until 2014.


Oh well. We can’t for Mary Jane’s triumphant return. In case you missed it (or you need another fix), here’s the Mary Jane trailer. Enjoy.

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Nick Chiles

Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, including the upcoming "The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path To American Leadership," which he co-authored with Al Sharpton.


  1. Glad to hear it did so well. I loved this movie, and I’m happy to see BET stepping in the right direction with this one.

  2. I loved this movie! I thought it was well written, and funny and kinda scary cause there are women out there that will go to those lengths to have babies! And have families that expect them to save them from EVERYTHING!

    Can’t wait for the series!

  3. This show is full of typical stereotypes. Not only are the black men portrayed in a negative light. It has this same “bitchy” vibe that comes across gabby’s in acting skill. The plot does not do anything to uphold the successes of African American women that are doing well, and happy. Its a hit because of this need to always bring up the many issues our communities are facing. We all are aware of that. We like to be entertained, but it quite obvious the market of black folks BET is for. BET should step out of playing devils advocate for awhile. You want us to watch but we are constantly bombarded with the single successful black woman who just can’t find a man role.(Which is typical in Union’s Career). The sex scene could have been left out. UGh!. I had such high hopes for this series. If the main objective is to show a black woman who is successful. BET should understand the woman and men who are watching are educated and successful in their own right. I hope the writers step it up. Stop thinking black means “chitlin circuit 101.”

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Alrighty then. Clearly, we saw two different programs. Sorry you didn’t like it. I thought it was stellar.

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