Being Mary Jane
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Being Mary Jane is a mature drama about a single, professional woman who is dating and sexually active. She and her friends sometimes have affairs with married men, and the morality of doing so is debated. Viewers will see semi-nude bodies onscreen (no private parts), writhing and moaning, as well as the pain of betrayed spouses. Casual sex, oral sex, and other sexual acts are referred to frequently and graphically. Characters drink cocktails, beer, wine and champagne onscreen and may act silly or sloppy when drunk. One character struggles with drug addiction; there are references to that and to buying and enjoying drugs like marijuana. There is some mild cursing and sexual language. Parents may want to watch with teens to counter any iffy messages, but they may appreciate the rich family bonds on display and Mary Jane's own strength and honesty.
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What's the Story?
BEING MARY JANE isn't always easy. Stunning talk show host Mary Jane Paul (Gabrielle Union) has worked her way up to the top of the food chain at the Atlanta-based network on which her show appears. But her personal life doesn't always run as smoothly. She's looking to fall in love, but unfaithful married man Andre Daniels (Omari Hardwick) keeps getting in the way. At home, Mary Jane's invalid mother Helen Patterson (Margaret Avery) struggles to maintain her own marriage and health, while Mary Jane's father Paul (Richard Roundtree) worries about his family. Mary Jane's older brother Patrick (Richard Brooks) deals with an on-again, off-again drug addiction and his pregnant teenage daughter Niecy (Raven Goodwin) while other brother Paul Jr. (B.J. Britt) tries to keep his young kids in line. Meanwhile, Mary Jane's position at the network is never safe, her friends are having their own romantic and professional adventures, and all Mary Jane wants to do is find the time to hit the gym and get a full night's sleep.
Is It Any Good?
Many a network show has captured the life of a lovely young something-or-other: doctor, teacher, lawyer. Watching a woman in her early 30s work to get ahead in her career while navigating her own love life is a time-tested television formula, but Being Mary Jane distinguishes itself with fresh, smart writing and an appealing ensemble of cast members, each of whom have their own soapy problems to deal with.
Union herself, who's struggled to find the right roles since her breakout role in the cheerleader flick Bring It On, is enormously sympathetic in her nuanced portrayal of Mary Jane. She doesn't always make the right decisions (having sex with Andre at the gym might have been the wrong choice, for one thing), but she's so intelligent and emotionally savvy that watching her is a towering pleasure. Add to that a warm and loving family (which adds its own complications), and a circle of zesty friends and Being Mary Jane transcends its seen-it premise to become something quite rare: A realistic portrait of a young woman learning how to be her best self. This show is highly recommended, though parents may want to watch with teens to counter any too-mature messages.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why a drama about a young and beautiful television personality would be appealing to watch. Why is Being Mary Jane not about a woman in her 40s or 50s? What storylines does Mary Jane's youth make possible or more likely?
Is Mary Jane wealthy or poor? Did she go to college or not? Does she like her job? How does the show tell you these things without having to state them outright?
Is the audience supposed to like Mary Jane? To judge her? To relate to her? What clues do you get from her depiction? Consider dialogue, costumes, plotting and setting in your answer.
- Premiere date: July 2, 2013
- Cast: Gabrielle Union, Omari Hardwick, Margaret Avery, Stephen Bishop
- Network: BET
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: January 8, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Comedy about diversity and friendship for teens+.
Boozy comedy is less about "cougars," more about friendship.
Political thriller mixes sex with violence and murky ethics.
Medical soap is gripping -- and occasionally graphic.
For kids who love strong women
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