A look at success and failure in the television shows Being Mary Jane and Scandal.
The role of the single black female is society is one that may not be as simple as black and white: instead it has many grey areas. Society has pinned the black female to be a very independent, nose in the air, conquering everything in her way, no need for a man type of woman. These stereotypes affect her home life, relationships in the workplace, her friendships, and her day to day interactions with people she may be meeting for the first time. Television and media have crowned black women to be sexual beings whose bodies are their prize possessions. There have been television shows that portray two African American women in a very successful position. Her battles, most if not all, stem from her personal relationships with her male counterparts. Although, they are held in high regard on the business side of their lives, their side devoted to finding love is finding despair, heartbreak, and sacrifices of their characters. In the show Being Mary Jane, the protagonist Mary Jane Paul, formally Pauletta Patterson, is a successful anchor woman on the “CNN-like network called SNC” (bet.com). She is the face of a day time show called Talk Back. Mary Jane is a powerhouse when it comes to her professional life and when it comes to her family. She stands up to the “big wigs” at the television station while her continued success on the show helps keeps their ratings up. In regards to her family, she is the glue that keeps everything together. Her sick mom, overly-ambitious brother, second time pregnant niece, and her recovering addict brother keep her ever busy when she isn’t at the station. However, Mary Jane’s personal relationship is in much turmoil throughout the season. She gets involved with a married man. When she discovered he has been dishonest with her about his nuptials, she kicks him out, not even giving him time to dress before she sprays him with the water hose. She, despite better judgment, rekindles a connection with him, even admitting that she is addicted to their love-hate affair. Although Mary Jane is put together on the outside, she deals with matters of the heart a totally different way. This can be the same for the main character in the primetime show Scandal. Olivia Pope is a professional fixer for many celebrities, political officials, and most importantly for the president of the United States. She is called when there is a “scandal” that someone wants to keep hidden. They all look to her and her team of “gladiators” at Olivia Pope and Associates Firm. “She's bold, brilliant, desirable, has impeccable instincts (with an impeccable wardrobe to match) and, in most cases, calls the shots” (al.com). In the series, she is characterized as a strong, independent woman who fixes every problem that walks into her office. She only has people whose expertise earns them a spot working for her. Although, we find that she has rescued them from a situation that needed fixing on more than one occasion. Olivia helps those who she feels in her gut are telling the truth for her gut has never steered her wrong, until she is swept off of her feet by President Fitzgerald Grant III. When it comes to “Fitz,” Olivia is in a jam filled with emotion. She cannot release herself from the four year affair she has been having with him. Both the protagonists have a put-together façade in the eyes of the public. Yet, their personal lives and decisions they make about who they form relationships with are distorted. How can a woman so strong willed professionally fail at finding someone she deserves as a mate? What has the “single black female” been exposed to during her rearing that justifies making the decisions she does? How does this affect her professional life? What role does society play in forming the perceptions about the single black female? Are there any justifications for the two protagonists’ actions