"Scandal's" Olivia Pope has many Gladiators, but with this massive group of fans comes another group who detests her actions. Unlike actress Kerry Washington who regularly works in real life with the Democratic Party, the savior in a suit Olivia Pope (played by Washington) has been created as A-political although working for a Republican president (who seems to act more liberal on every single episode, specifically when it comes to guns). The hostility towards a powerful African-American woman who has every rich person in town (from the everyday citizen to high-powered political leaders) looking for her to save the day seems to be for two reasons: 1) She's the "other woman" of the president. 2) The president is white.
It's pointless to debate those who are still stuck in the days when interracial dating was illegal or determined to continue brainwashing themselves into making interracial dating taboo. This group will continue to live in the past and spend more time growling at other people's relationships instead of concerning themselves with their own.
However, the "other woman" issue on the show is worth a discussion. The "other woman" may seem like a growing trend in recent television history now that BET's "Being Mary Jane" has debuted its second episode. And although Mary Jane Paul (played by actress Gabrielle Union) is dating a man who is "the one that got away," she just keeps revisiting a married man she dated for four months without knowing he was married. While her excuse before was that she didn't know, she's losing credibility (just like Olivia Pope) for knowing now.
However, what ABC's TV writer Shonda Rhimes and BET's TV writer Mara Brock Akil have done is turn the tables on the other woman. The president's wife, Mellie Grant (played by Bellamy Young) in "Scandal" knows full well her husband is cheating, and at one point she even invited Olivia to see her husband so he could finally get some much-needed rest. In the first television release of "Being Mary Jane," Mary Jane confronted Andre Daniels' wife (played by Robinne Lee) about him cheating. And what did his wife do? First she hissed back at her and seemed downright offended that Mary Jane was honest with her. Then she showed up at Mary Jane's job to ask her random questions like whether they have oral sex and does she have an orgasm each time.
There's a growing curiosity about whether this is the trail of black women on TV. On Thurs., Jan. 9., Chicago radio station V103's host Doug Banks asked listeners if these two shows promote side chick behavior in black women. The Adult Conversation was triggered by a recent Bossip blog.
The problem with this question is it makes the shows seem like they completely revolve around the married guy when both shows delve into much deeper issues. With Edward Snowden constantly creeping back into the news, "Scandal" episodes like "Hunting Season (Season 2)" are a great conversation piece for the rights of the National Security Agency (NSA). "Enemy of the State (Season 1)" episode may have been a nice talking point for the political rights of wives of political dictators. "Sweet Baby (Season 1)" was a superb way to bring up the topic of homosexuality in the Republican party and in the army. And shouldn't "Seven Fifty-Two (Season 2)" make viewers even more concerned with post-traumatic stress disorder and how veterans are treated once they come home? Or how brutal the Patriot Act is when watching "One for the Dog (Season 2)"? Or how jaw-dropping the topic of rape was covered in "Hell Hath No Fury (Season 1)" and "Everything's Coming Up Mellie (Season 3)"?
But if all we take from the episodes is hashtagging #TeamJake and #TeamFitz instead of realizing "Scandal" is one of the few shows with African-American leads that discuss politics and culture as much if not more than a love triangle, then whose fault is that?
If the only thing viewers take from "Being Mary Jane" is the low-hanging fruit about a "ho bath" and gym sex, they'll completely miss out on the heinous business behavior of a family being pimped into being televised for broadcasting numbers. "Scandal's" "Grant for the People (Season 1)" and "Spies Like Us (Season 2)" peek into the journalism industry's dirty laundry, but "Being Mary Jane" is putting the media's desperation for viewers front row center.
Focusing on infidelity and ignoring the rest of the shows' scenarios is like summarizing "The Wire" as a show just about drug dealers and cops or "Sleeper Cell" as just a show about terrorists. Appreciate the layers in these shows. Salute the actresses doing a stellar job of playing make-believe. A dramatic series is meant to be juicy, but it shouldn't be held accountable for cheating that was happening long before viewers knew the power of a white hat.
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