Perhaps a more suitable title for this blog would be, “The Deterioration of Clair Huxtable into Being Mary Jane,” but for the sake of attracting readership I chose to go with the word, ‘evolution.’ I wanted to purposely offend all of your memories of the smooth, professional, beautiful wife, mother of five, New York City lawyer, television persona, Clair Huxtable and make you think twice about your affections for the the charming, beautiful, professional adulterer, Mary Jane.
In a time when black America needs no help in projecting harmful and negative stereotypes within its communities, television writers and more specifically black television writers are cashing in exponentially on black female television heroines such as Olivia Pope and Mary Jane while they avoid less controversial role portrayals like Clair Huxtable as if she were a plague, but I understand. Clair is played out.
No one can be that beautiful, that happy, and that professional all of the time. Moreover, by today’s television standards, Clair is boring. She loved Cliff and Cliff only. When her children needed her advice, she seemed happy to give it to them and her job always seemed to be a distant third behind Sandra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, Rudy, and Cliff respectively.
Understandably, in a time when more women are working and raising children in their single state, I am sure it can be hard to relate to Clair Huxtable, but is it really that easy to relate to Mary Jane?
How many single black females are driving home in their $80,000 luxury sedan after leaving their $100,000 job, to decide whether they will entertain their handsome, professional ex-boyfriend or booty-call-text their equally handsome, professional secret lover who also happens to be married? I admit I may be a little out of touch, but in reality, “where they do that at?”
But alas, it is entertainment and at the end of the show the emotions and thrills and chills that you felt as you watched Mary Jane were just that; a few emotions and a few hormones, nothing more and nothing less. Undoubtedly, Clair never evoked those types of emotions, but perhaps Clair evoked something equally if not more important. She evoked love, honor, and respect for marriage.
Furthermore, as much as Clair’s role has evolved, there is still one group that seems extremely infatuated, perhaps slightly obsessed, and highly admirable of Clair and that group is black males. Unquestionably, Clair is still the apple of their eye. The way she smiled at Cliff, respected him, and cooked his dinner as he waited in excited anticipation; the way she cared for the kids and most importantly, the way she greeted him during the bedroom scenes, Cliff in his silk pj’s and she waiting expectantly in bed. Clair was and still is a man’s ideal picture of a woman and most importantly a wife, and Mary Jane is and will always be a man’s ideal picture of a woman who makes a good side chick.
Now that I am married, I realize that Clair set the bar really high, perhaps even impossibly high, but Mary Jane has done the exact opposite by re-positioning the bar just as low. Yes it’s entertaining, but it’s also detrimental and I hope we won’t get so caught up in the drama that we forget it’s not the reality for the majority. Besides, even Beyonce made Jay-Z put a ring on it before she became drunk in love.
Evolve, grow, and think.
With love and respect,