The Evolution of Clair Huxtable into Being Mary Jane


clair huxtableMary Jane

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,

Danielle

 

123 Comments on “The Evolution of Clair Huxtable into Being Mary Jane”

    • AMAZING! You definitely have the right interpretation of yet another catastrophic societal plunge in the form of entertainment.

    • Thank you so much, LaTonya. Hopefully, we can motivate women to write more balanced scripts. I think there are a lot more Clair-wannabes than Mary Janes…they just need an opportunity to use their voice.

      • And let’s not forget Candace on “the Have and Have Nots”. They’re starting her on the trollop trail as a law student. What’s next? The high school hussy? This “trend” of black woman imagery is disturbing.

    • TV is 1-a ‘for profit enterprise, 2-phony, 3-BS, &4-ONLY about money and ratings. Ratings = Money = CONTENT. The Cosby Show & Clair were ONLY successful because of the ratings, not because of the messages of morals, ethics, & righteousness. The problem then and now is that some of us black folk forget that both Clair & Mary Jane are fictional TV characters (for entertainment purposes only). Any validation of REAL LIFE Black America based on TV is senseless! I strongly suggest to either watch it or don’t watch it. Trust, the shows that we ALL want to watch rarely get the ratings required to stay on TV. (Millions pay to watch every Madea movie, 12 Years a Slave has not reach 1 million yet)Look at the bright side, there are more black American actors & actresses working on Mary Jane than ALL of the major networks combined. The popularity of both of these shows is a reflection of “popular/fictional” culture, not a decay of real-life, non-fictional black folk. The Mary Jane that we ALL want to watch would have been a wrap after the ‘Pilot’ episode because of low ratings, not enough people would have watched boring, real, Black American progressive, intelligent, soulful, professional, and educated portrait of us. Omar Hardwick has not had a lead role on the big screen because this is America.

      5 hours ago

      • The Cosby Show ran for 8 Seasons and won its time slot for all 8. It was the number one sitcom on tv for 7 of those years. The Cosby Show aired following and during the era of police dramas (Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice) and and dark sitcoms. Before Cosby it was said that the comedy was dead on network tv. Millions of people tuned in weekly to Cosby because it was a show that the entire family could watch. The parents, kids and hell even the grand parents could watch it. The acting was good and the writing superb. Trash tv is easier to produce because it doesn’t require the same level of acting to make garbage seem real. No one wants a Mary Jane but everyone wanted a dad like Cliff, a mom like Claire and that “Cosby Love”. Television IS driven by ratings… due you realize the Top Grossing Movie at the theaters almost every year is some animated movie. Family movies still do extremely well. Let’s look at what followed Cosby and a different world from an anthropological perspective…. a rise in Black professionals and business creation (following the 70’s) and after A Different World a resurgence of the HBCU. What people see on tv DOES matter. Clearly this is not simply a matter of ratings because wholesome still has a HUGE market. We are inundated with these negative images of the over sexual Black female b%^#& on television and not enough people seem concerned. We choose to make excuses rather than to demand a better more accurate portrayal.

      • Obviously Marc you haven’t listened to the countless women who after watching the show have proclaimed that could be their story. They admit in public to doing the same thing! So for far too many people the show does in fact mimic real life. And that’s what Danielle is getting at. Are we “glorifying” a destructive life style at a time when the black family is struggling like never before? And if so-why?

      • Thank you Marc!! It’s refreshing to see a (presumable AA) man take this standpoint as I’ve seen far too many AA people bash Being Mary Jane as a show that glorifies homewreckers. I’m not sure what show they’re watching but what about that show makes being a side chick look desirable? Mary Jane has a beautiful home, killer wardrobe and great track record at work – all of which she’s worked hard for – but between family and romance her personal life is in shambles. Do I envy her bank account? Yes!!!! Do I envy her life? Not even in the least bit. Her experience really is similar to that of many modern women, AA women specifically – killing it in the workplace while their personal lives fall apart. Clair Huxtable’s wasn’t that realistic either – if she was in law school and Cliff was in med school how did they find time to make FIVE kids? And they sure had a lot of money for two people who never seemed to go to work (even when Cliff was “working” he was in his home office most of the time). It’s TV – it’s entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with showing black women as nuanced characters with just as many shortcomings as they have accomplishments. Just deal!!

      • I agree with Marc. The Cosby show is one of my favorite shows but the time for a show like that just isn’t upon us anymore. That is not go say that we as wouldn’t watch a show like that if it was presented. However tv producers know we will watch a show like Mary have, which I don’t watch by the way. Tia is in the show on nick at night which is very respectable about a black blended family. I’ve watched it once and thought it was a very cute family show. I’m just not one ego watches a lot of television. That show shows the family in the way it is now. Most families black or dnt race ate blended these days the huxtable type family just is not the norm these days honestly. And all in all it’s just tv. We could say let’s be happy that these actors have jobs. Bc a lot of shows don’t even have black characters. Some things are taken to seriously. You know your story and those around you if you don’t like the show or the ideals it portrays don’t watch it. Bc there is no show or movie that portrays my life. I watch what I enjoy knowing it’s to make money n get ratings not to be the tell all for real life.

      • I disagree. Whether it’s reality for black America or not, as a writer you need to be careful about the content you display for two parties: those who ate non-black and our black youth. Those who are non-black and have never or occassionally interacted with blacks, or have no understanding of our culture see our shows and think we act like that. So then here comes the continuation of false stereotypes placed among our people that we have to struggle with separating ourselves from in order to be different in in Hollywood. And like the writer of this blog said, the black writers aren’t making it any better. We can’t rely on mainstream (white) Hollywood to create roles that don’t perpetuate stereotypes. Also, our black youth, who are naive that are watching these shows are, processing what they see and think it’s okay to behave in the manner that these women act on television. And you can’t lay all blame or responsibility on parents because let’s be honest we all snuck and watched that show we weren’t supposed to watch when we were young. Producers and companies once considered their audience and took partial responsibility for content they displayed on television. And all TV shows didn’t always revolve around drama. Most of those shows provided comedy. For example, The Jeffersons, Good Times, What’s Happening, 227, Sanford and Son, The Cosbys, A Different World, Martin, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, I Love Lucy, Happy Days, Threes Company, etc.

      • “The Cosby Show” had more in common with “Good Times” than “Being Mary Jane”. Like Clair, Florida also greeted her husband, James, with a smile when he came home from work. Like Clair, Florida also gave the sexy face when James flirted with her or hinted it was time for bedtime play. And like the Huxtables, the Evans also had family problems that they dealt with as — you guessed it — a family.

        The only BIG difference was the Evans were poor and the Huxtables, well they were obviously not.

        So these two families and shows I could see being compared, but to compare Clair Huxtable to Mary Jane? I am a bit confused. These two women have absolutely nothing in common– they are night and day, Ebony and Ivory.

        Which is a good thing. Mary Jane is not trying to be Clair Huxtable in any sense, shape or form. She is instead, trying to be on the next season of “Baskbetball Wives” or “Married Lawyer’s Sidechicks”.

        And this is where I absolutely agree with you.

        Mary Jane has only 1 redeeming quality – and that is simply that she loves and financially helps her equally crazy and dysfunctional family. But other than that, from what I have watched, she is a desperate soci-path in need of deep, intensive therapy.

        Who steals a man’s sperm and freezes it when she has a $100,000 job and can just go out and buy sperm? Who shows up at a man’s house unannounced, while he and his NEW woman are there having a dinner party and proceeds to desperately demand he take you back? Who learns she is the sidechick with another married man and then goes and confronts his wife – AND THEN goes on to continue to sleep with that man and now actively participate in the breakdown of his family and marriage (simply because HE says ‘words’ that convinces her the marriage is over). And who moves that SAME married man into her house as he’s continuing to get text messages from his kids asking where he is? There are so many other “who’s” I could add, but I’d be on here for an hour.

        I’ve seen this kind of reckless regard for other people’s feelings and emotions on soap operas and ‘reality’ shows. Neither of which “Being Mary Jane” claims to be. I’ve also read arguments that state Mary Jane is supposed to be the flawed anti-hero — but come on — her so-called flaws are so over the top, they dumb down what has the potential to be a really good show. The acting is there, the writing has potential to go there, but as is it’s too ‘reality show’ and ‘un-believable show’ driven and less character and plot-driven.

        So in my final analysis, the only commonality Mary Jane and Clair Huxtable would ever have is if Mary Jane moved in next door, friend-ed a very leery Clair and one day found herself sitting on Clair’s couch, crying and drinking Claire’s homemade lemonade as Claire sat politely across from her listening to Mary Jane’s latest bleeding heart rant over the latest man she stalked with her car or made a fool out of her self yet again with one of her self-serving, unannounced visits. After she FINALLY finished, Claire would sip a little more lemonade, smile at her politely and say, “You do realize the only crazy one in this situation is you? And by crazy, I do not mean “ha, ha, she’s so funny crazy,” I mean certifiably, mentally unstable, insane asylum crazy. And if you THINK you can pull that with MY husband and MY family, I will personally kill you. Not ‘ha ha, I’m so crazy, kill you’ but wrap both my hands around your tiny little CNN neck and strangle you until the last breath leaves your no values having, take anybody’s man as long as he’s breathing, body. Care for some more lemonade?”

        And that would be the last time Mary Jane came over to the Huxtables.

        For the upcoming season, I would like to see Mary Jane stop focusing so much on having a man and work more on herself. Because this woman is crazy. Let her world fall apart – let her lose her job, lose that fancy crib and that fancy car. Let us see her build herself back up with nothing. Let us see her fall in love and all the complexities that brings because the truth is Mary Jane is scared of commitment – that’s why she keeps choosing unavailable men and “falling” in love with them.

        I will reserve some hope for this show and Mary Jane. I think they will get some better plot lines and story lines. But, I do not think Clair Huxtable will be visiting anytime soon.

        Great blog!

    • This is so on point, and I’m glad that this came from a male’s perspective ( I do believe that it was a male who wrote the article). I have been speaking on this same topic for the last month. I have a weekly conference call for wives/women, the name of the call is “GAME CHANGERS”. This call is a clarion call for all the women who want to be “GAME CHANGERS” in their relationships and not do it the way that we are seeing marriages/relationships being done, i.e. “being Mary Jane”. We have been talking about the subtleness of this show and shows like this, (SCANDAL), and all the reality housewives, and how they have come to influence us, our homes, our husbands, and our children. We cannot afford to sit back and allow this to go on and do nothing. Yes there are and will always be Mary Jane’s in the world but as you stated, she is just a side chick, Great article!!!!

    • Not surprised one bit that this blog comes from a married woman. Oh how married women just hate shows with cheating husbands! Notice that MJ is NOT the professional adulterer because, well, she isn’t married. Andre is though! Once again, oh how women love to blame the other women in such a situation but there is no mention on the differences between Cliff and Andre. Cliff, a man who actually remained faithful to his beautiful wife. Point is, whether its the Huxtables or Mary Jane, its all entertainment. Both scenarios go on in real life, and its NOT race specific. If you don’t want your husband hooking up with a Mary Jane, then be what Mary Jane was to Andre and be his wife while doing it. I love reading these sort of blogs, it never fails. Only thing I am surprised over is that there was NO mention of God. LOL. Have a good day people! So cliche.

  1. I completely agree. I want to be respected, not as someone’s “side chick,” but I want to be a wife, a mother and just an all around good woman. In wanting to be all of these things, I need to continue to keep the bar raised HIGH.

  2. I agree with you 100%+! I miss the “ideal” Claire Huxtable image on TV. What we have nowadays in Black Female actors states that we are not capable of anything more than a “side chick” role. And the really sad thing is, our little girls are watching this mess, being impressed by less, and desiring to grow up to be nothing more.

    Thanks for giving voice to what many of us Black women still inspire to be and see (or not) on the entertainment screens!

  3. This is not just in the black roles. You see it in all the roles. No more strong, independant moms. We evolved from the male dependant, “Leave it to Beaver” era to Clair Huxtable, Maggie Seaver, and Elyse Keaton. Maybe not perfect, but pretty close. But now, all women roles are skewed from one extreme to another.

    • You are exactly right, women’s roles are taking a beating regardless of skin tone. I chose to just focus on black women, and I hope white women are just as ticked off with tv portrayals particularly the real housewives debacles. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. This article was so well spoken and so true! While I do watch the show Being Mary Jane, and know it is just entertainment, I find myself being so disappointed that she doesn’t “do the right thing” and end the relationship. I am equally disappointed at BET’s efforts to hype the show by asking people to say why they are like the character in the show; some of the responses (at least the ones that have been shown on TV) are less than positive. And truthfully, I don’t think that many people “get” that being a side chick is NOT a good thing. A sad state of affairs! Thanks for the enlightenment!

  5. I agree with all of your observations, except for Mary Jane being entertaining. It hurts my heart to keep seeing black women portrayed as so desperate and willing to do anything to have a man. It definitely sends the wrong message to our young women.

    • It hurts me too, Patricia, so much so that I had to write this blog. I appreciate you supporting the blog and I hope you will share the post with anyone you think will take the time to read it.

    • This show was particulary hard for me to watch because a real life Mary Jane in the form of a well known female minister broke up my marriage. She had the nerve to move my husband in her home and still showing up every Sunday to preach on a pulpit, but unlike the wife I’m filed for a divorce and refuse to take him back. We are not divorce yet and now he’s begging to come back and said to me yesterday look at Andre he went back to his wife. WTF I also found the writing and script wreckless and disrespectful to blame the wife for husbands cheating on the lack of oral sex , for making her weak, for allowing the mistress in the home , and for taking him back without even a hug or some sort of affection. This is exactly why our community is in shambles and we have no financial power. And if you read most blogs so many black women support this type of behavior. Hey look at the lack of shame for the I’m Mary Jane ads. If anything this show truly highlighted the sad state our communities are in and then we get the its just a show.

  6. The status of professional intellect has great rewards; and equally the sphere of influence has a great effect on those to whom are espoused to it .For that reason the powers that be are wiser in their generation than the children of light , we to must learn to maximize the anatomy of our thoughts . Visionary thinking for positive results is a rare commodity but a personal choice and all men have not faith; we can’t sell out or we shouldn’t

  7. Eloquently stated. I have been thinking the same thing, but never made the Clair Huxtable connection/comparison. I refuse to watch either – period. I wonder what would happen if there were more people wiling to “sacrifice” entertainment in order to make a statement.

    • Me too. I sometimes wonder what would happen if we just re-aired The Cosby Show on prime time television again. How would people react? I think if Duck Dynasty can have the type of followership that it gets, The Cosby Show or something similar could command similar followership. People don’t care that that family is decked out in camouflage. People like the morals and values that they represent.

      • What is your basis for that statement Marc B? The “wholesome family values” shows are usually ratings bonanzas. Duck Dynasty is a perfect example. People don’t want it for the great television. People love that on tv today there is still a show where family matters and morality appears to be prevalent. People made the same comments BEFORE Cosby aired in 1985. Bill Cosby made similar comments about how sorry the networks have become when asked about a Cosby reunion. He eluded that they should take the time and hire writers again (and not gossip columnist). The decision to kill sitcoms was not about ratings… it was about the screen writers’ guild threatened strike. The networks choose to air reality tv rather than to make concessions and the crap we watch today is the direct result of that. It is NOT about ratings.

  8. Thank you, Danielle. Very well-said. I’ve been debating this topic with a few of my associates (males & females) for many weeks. I’ve asked them WHAT they find so entertaining? It is not cute or interesting or redeeming by any stretch of my imagination. It’s damaging to far too many of our young women (and men) who view this is acceptable behavior because that network presents Black images to them and promotes it heavily. Many of our people are not emotionally stable or healthy enough to separate fantasy from reality. They have no positive role models – a all. I could only stomach watching one episode, so most of what I know about the show, I’ve repeatedly heard from friends or read about it on social media. I think Gabrielle Union is a talented actress and I’m delighted for her that she is working because many talented Black actors in Hollywood are not working right now.

    BUT, I wonder…what would happen if her character, Mary Jane were to wake up and decide to not only do the right thing and stop having adulterous, promiscuous, irresponsible and immoral sex. What would happen if Mary Jane stood up and became a TRUE, honest, strong Black women by telling these men to go kick rocks because she is too valuable, too intelligent, too gorgeous, too responsible and far too worthy of respect to let ANY man have her body without benefit of marriage or any type of commitment or at the very least without investing more of themselves. I wonder what would happen if she re-directed her smarts and her energy and really started handling business in her professional career and became a bad-a*$# media mogul (maybe like billionaire Ms. Oprah)? I wonder if the Black writers of that show could figure out a way to make that storyline entertaining?

    Lastly, anybody remember that we seemed to enjoy more positive images of Blacks on television since The Cosby Show on the so-called mainstream networks? Shows like A Different World, Living Single, Roc, Fresh Prince of BelAir? And most recently, My Wife and Kids – which must have been somewhat entertaining, as it won numerous awards and was at the top of ratings on ABC for 4 consecutive seasons then went into syndication. So, you can’t tell me that it’s necessary or somehow just better to air garbage like Being Mary Jane.

    Peace & Blessings beautiful people…

  9. I think it is intellectually dishonest to try to paint the picture that women do not engage in affairs with married men. Is it the rule? NO. But neither is the Clair Huxtable standard, either, and to try to demand that ONLY “positive” portrayals of minorities should be seen on television is just flat out not realistic, because the fact is, that is not true in REAL LIFE, either. I have watched both shows, and the fact that these women are “side chicks” is one component of the OVERALL picture that is being painted. And we all know that any black woman in real life who was as powerful, intelligent, and sophisticated as Olivia Pope would NEVER be someone’s “side chick”. But the side chicks exist in massive numbers. Some knowingly, some unknowingly, but they are there, and that is just a fact.

    • Thanks for sharing, Mr. D Nice. I can see your point. I don’t believe a show should be void of negative messages and there must be a balance as every day isn’t peaches and cream. And although we know that real life black women on Olivia Pope’s status would never be a “side chick”, I am not sure if the world knows that. It is the same reason Richard Sherman is considered a thug because the community at large is being educated by television portrayals, and unfortunately on television, our largest role portrayals are those connected with negative lifestyles. We can’t expect television executives to change this. We must take matters into our own hands.

      • Excellent reply Danielle. You hit the nail on the head. It’s not about what WE know to be our reality. It’s that person in Wyoming that ONLY sees Blacks on television. Or when these shows air in other places. We (as Blacks) are appalled at the stereotypes that people from these “type” of areas have about Blacks but rarely consider the source of their mindset. Television is a powerful medium. We should constantly consider that.

  10. Great observation Danielle. Both shows have glorified the side-chick roles and have placed black women in the position as being desperate, thirsty home wreckers. The shows are entertaining but I think what needs to also be addressed is in Being Mary Jane her goal in life was never to be the side chick although that’s what she was. Some women, especially black women, get to a certain age and feel like their chance of marriage and living a dream life is bleak. Most women don’t want to be Mary Jane or Olivia Pope, they really do want to be Clair. Due to so many reasons women are deceived into thinking that something is better than nothing. I’m a 36 yr old single parent who isn’t married YET so I know how about the desire to be married. The entertainment industry knows too but the reality is sex and scandals make money and they are taking the very thing that is breaking down our families and going all the way to the bank with it. This is an issue that is very prevalent among all women not just African American women. We need to be teaching our daughters to be more like “Clair”, to never settle but wait on God for their “Cliff”. Thanks for such an insightful article, keep them coming!!

  11. Thank you for this perspective. I am especially bothered by the end segment where women proudly proclaim, “I am Mary Jane because…” Each time this segment airs, I am reminded of the show’s negative influence. After all, shouldn’t we do more to save “the black family”. At a dark, short lived time, I was Mary Jane. It was one of the most compromising times of self I’ve ever experienced. It ain’t cute, nor is it fulfilling. Being Mary Jane will rob you of the little self-esteem you have left and leave you worse off. Hopefully, the writers of the show will showcase a turn around for Mary Jane…a moment when she realizes her value…this would make Being Mary Jane worth it!

  12. Still thinking…but what I do know is that I’m not feeling the “I am Mary Jane because” “contest” or whatever the hell it is. Whatever u may think of the character, I think we can all agree that sexing a married man, especially with the expectation that he will “one day” be yours is nothing to aspire to.

  13. So the last time I checked, FLOTUS was one of the most popular women in the world, and she is revered by every black woman I know. We don’t need Claire anymore because we have the real deal sitting in the White House. And for those who can’t relate to FLOTUS & POTUS, I know that T.I. & Tiny get mad love from their viewers too. Or maybe you prefer Cynthia & Peter or NeNe & Greg from RHOA. And guess what, many of the same people who love FLOTUS love Mary Jane too. Many of us who love Jay-Z & Bey love Olivia too. I know couples who are as happy as Claire and Cliff and I know women like Mary Jane. They exist and are all a part of the fabric of our community. And while Cliff was turned on by Claire’s silk pajamas, we know that Bey’s man likes his loving rough and freaky. There is no one size fits all for marriage, sexual expression between couples or what it means to be single in a world where married men can cheat on their wives and abandon their children, but women like Mary Jane and Olivia shoulder all of the blame for these relationships. Not once in this article was Andre mentioned or compared to Cliff. I certainly agree that these adulterous relationships are unhealthy and both of these women are clearly unhappy. But I find it much easier to relate to the b.s. at work, the dysfunctional family, and the biological time clock that Mary Jane deals with than I do to a woman with 5 kids, a perfect marriage, a perfect career and no obvious problems whatsoever. But I love Claire as much as I love MJ and clearly understand the difference between the two. In the end, MJ and Olivia do NOT make me want to get involved with a married man, but I certainly understand the loneliness and frustration that could lead them to it. And, while I love Claire, I relate more to the working class roots, strength and elegance of FLOTUS, the sexual adventurousness of Beyonce and the imperfection and insecurity that is Olivia and Mary Jane.

    • I love First Lady Michelle too! Who can argue with you on that one! I also have enjoyed the few times that I have seen T.I. and Tiny and Beyonce taught me how to “sexy” walk for my husband (via youtube of course…). Actually, I love celebrating marriage with the best of them and even more so now that I am married. You definitely bring up some interesting points especially my elimination of Andre. How about you tackle that one? There are so many juicy topics within the topic of Being Mary Jane. As I stated in the blog, I definitely understand that Mary Jane is much easier to connect with and Clair is almost impossible to match (I say almost because my mother has done an incredible job and my dad is still smiling and I am the middle of 5 kids and we have given her much more trouble than the Huxtable crew). I love the fact that you can pick and choose the pieces of each woman you mentioned to support and admire. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I Believe In Mary Jane

    Brilliant Blog and I agree with the content. But I would like to say that I Believe In Mary Jane. I believe Mary Jane and every woman that associates themselves with her desires to be a Clair. They desire to be loved by one man, to have a family that reflects the good values that been taught to them, keep a joyful home, and to have the option of using their gifting and education to be a stay at home wife/mom or work outside the home. I believe Mary Jane can get to Clair. But only a meeting with the FATHER ( ABA) will get her there.

    • Good point, Richard. It definitely takes God, our maker, to explain our purpose and affirm our identity. I never thought to frame the blog around an identity crisis, but perhaps that is the greater issue. I will think on this and jot down some notes.

  15. I’m always amazed at our limited recollection of reality of African American families, women and television. Claire Huxtable was truly one of my favorite betrayals of African American or a woman period since I truly believe her character was portrayed in a manner that crossed racial lines. However, it is interesting to me that we say that she represents what men want when I personally know countless examples of men who have chosen their real life Mary Janes over a real life Claire Huxtable. Perhaps I’m in the wrong geographical zip codes but from my side line view, the Mary Janes of the world seem to have no shortage of dates or prospects. Now putting both the Cosby show and Mary Jane aside. Let’s be honest about the overall decline in ethics and morals in general of our society and what is being displayed for the world to see. Is it more of tragedy that we are bothered by fictional characters such as Mary Jane and Olivia Pope whose charters are both having affairs with married men rather than the Atlanta Housewives who are ‘real people’ who fight on television and lock their wives out of their homes and change the locks. As the saying goes there is nothing new under the sun and the things that we are seeing now on television have been going on for years. The difference is our grandmothers stayed with their husbands overlooking their mistresses, outside children and much more. Interesting how the double standard still exist for women even when it’s fictional. I’ve not seen one commentary written on the fact that Mary Jane was unaware that he was married when she started dating him and that he deliberately went after her. Nor the ex boyfriend who has been sleeping with Mary Jane and another woman at the same time. Unfortunately, we would like to pretend that our brothers and men are just waiting for the opportunity to spoil us and treat us like Cliff did Claire. For if you recall he pampered her and adored her which probably made being his loving wife and an outstanding mother so much easier. Regardless, I’m glad that my example of what it means to be a real African American woman came from my single parent mom who is extraordinary!

    • I am glad too. I am also glad I had my mother to lead and guide me and my father’s unconditional love. It has truly made a difference. You make great points and I am sorry you chose to be anonymous having made such valid points. I still believe that men and women want to be Cliff and Clair, yet with the deterioration of marriage in general, coupled with high divorce rates and really poor visual images of what manhood and womanhood mean, we have provided a very brittle and broken example for people to follow.
      In regards to the double standard, I do agree with you that the male offenders have been overlooked. I thought long and hard about whether I would address Andre, but I decided not to. Perhaps that was a mistake, perhaps not.
      From personal experience while I was in college, I found myself involved with a guy who although not married was engaged to be married. He fed me the same lines as Andre and I really felt we connected on all cylinders, spiritually, emotionally, family upbringing…. It was amazing…until I realized that he was still going through with the marriage. On top of that, I was shrouded in the secrecy of the relationship, dealing with my own hurts and wallowing in self pity. For a while I placed all my blame on him, until I realized I was giving all my strength away. I knew he was engaged and I thought I was going to change that. I had to accept my responsibility and at that moment I was able to suck up my tears, and shut the door on that relationship. You know, a few years later the same guy showed up on my doorstep with a sheepish grin on his face and a weak apology. By that time, I didn’t even need his apology and the power and joy I felt…amazing! So, yes, I ignored Andre. In my opinion, he doesn’t deserve any more attention. That is part of the problem. When you are trying to remove yourself from a bad relationship, you need every inch of your strength for yourself.

      Thanks for sharing. Next time, leave your name. You definitely have too much to say to be anonymous. God bless you!

  16. Thank you for setting the bar for todays black women. We have truly fallen a people. Scandal & Mary Jane have become idols. More profound than Gods words.

  17. Bravo! Mary Jane, Olivia Pope and reality TV specifically The Real Housewives of whatever give our children and young adults a false impression of what life is really like and what God intended. Thank you for your article.

  18. This is a great article that contain so much TRUTH! I totally agree with you. I wish everyone would be conscious viewers and not view television shows as simply entertainment. These images portrayed does have a impact on us and our society. Viewing in every week (ratings) is also an indicator of what we value.

  19. Love this! I cant stand to watch Mary Jane….this blog post is giving me life. Well said, I was just having this conversation with my girlfriends,we need to do better!
    Much Love Sis!

  20. It is just a darn TV show for entertainment! And to be honest, it makes you not want to be that girl. Married people always hate on shows like this because of their fear that their hubby’s will cheat. It’s TV. Get a life. If your husband cheats I promise it won’t be because him or the mistress was watching Mary jane. And you might learn a thing or two about what not to do as a wife. Lastly, there is an entire community of Mary Janes. And yes I absolutely still love the Cosby Show. Just two different types of entertainment.

    • Thanks Kathy for sharing your views. I am glad you are able to recognize both shows for entertainment and not reality, but unfortunately many people do not make that separation. More importantly, having traveled extensively outside of the United States, the rest of the world is completely being educated by television and I wish you could hear what they take as reality…it’s scary. When I lived in Israel in 2000-2001, my roommates could not wait to watch Ricki Lake and for them they had no idea that most people in the U.S. did not live that way. Trust me, what we consider entertainment in the States, is history and education other places.

  21. As a black woman….I’m not into Scandal or being mary jane…I don’t get the appeal of it all….glorifying imaginary whores….

    • Apparently, a lot of people do see the appeal of it. I have to agree with you regarding the appeal of the shows, although I wouldn’t go as far as calling them imaginary whores…misguided for sure but the potential is there if the writers allow it to create better images.

  22. I agree, this is a great article and so very, sadly true. I won’t get on my soap box about Mary Jane, RHOA, blah blah blah. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said. The good news is is that this blog and all the wonderful comments are right on point. Let’s tell/teach our daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, etc. that these shows “ain’t it” and help them understand/practice what is!

  23. Danielle – Loved the post! You make some very valid and relevant observations about Mary Jane vs. Clair Huxtable. True, Clair clearly loved her husband and family and she was beautiful, successful and well rounded. She was, and still is, desired and thought of as a “perfect and idyllic wife.” The truth is, there are probably far more Mary Jane’s than there are Clair Huxtables.

    I’m speaking from a position of the wife: the one who was cheated on by her husband – like Avery (Andre’s wife). My ex husband’s mistress also contacted me directly and told me about their affair, as well as the baby that was born several months prior. I watched that scene and I felt Avery’s pain. I watched that scene and wanted to slap Mary Jane. I watched that scene and I saw the pain in Avery’s face. I am also a champion of Mellie Grant, the president’s wife on Scandal. I’m no less a fan of Olivia’s, but I see beyond Mellie’s bravado facade. It is a disguise to cover her pain. As ambitious as she is, I bet she would give it all up to have her husband’s heart. I wrote about my own story in my blog.

    My point is this: In no way am I condoning adultery – I know the pain and lasting devastation it causes. However, I also know that life if messy and ugly. People are not just one dimensional – we have multiple complicated layers to unravel and many times it’s an unpleasant process of revelation. I watch both Being Mary Jane and Scandal. When I look at Mary Jane and Olivia Pope, I see beyond the “side chick.” I see the desperation and the human vulnerability. I see successful women who have made poor decisions. That is true to life every day.

    • This is pretty much my life which I didn’t imagine a few months a go. But it’s what’s happening. Being Mary Jane and Olivia Pope aside, I don’t really believe that the black man values a successful black woman, especially when he is not on the same caliber. And even if he is, the thrill of the side chick is just too much to forgo. I think more status is being put on women with no education, who make their money off their body and booty shots. I used to read statements like these and just shake my head thinking this cannot be true. But it’s hard for me to watch Being Mary Jane because I side with Avery and I remember all her scenes being me in real life. In the bathroom crying and kicking him out, him coming back to her but going back to Mary Jane. I think some women like Mary Jane have no mercy or understanding. How do you look at his children, then have sex with him at the exact same time? It’s all a learning experience but it makes you wonder how scary the world out there truly is.

  24. People just need to stop watching so much tv period. Clearly people cannot differentiate entertainment / real life anymore.

    • I agree. I can’t believe how many people are upset (in real life) because of some fictional TV side chicks (fictional being the operative word).

  25. BRAVO!! I applaud your willingness to address this issue. I get what people are saying about these being “characters”, but for those people who are never around brown/black people all they have to go on is what they see portrayed on TV.

  26. Every time I watch Being Mary Jane, I am disgusted with her but mainly with the man. As much as you want to deny the issue, downplay it, and say portray our men and women in the positive light, that’s not what’s happening in real life. Take three of your girlfriends in a room, and find out how many of them out of the room have a good black man. Not one they “think”is good. But someone who is genuinely respectful of his relationship/marriage. A black man who doesn’t have daddy issues/mommy issues/baby mama drama/ baby mama current boyfriend drama.

    I am a successful black woman who was Mrs.Huxtable day in and day out but Mr.Huxtable wantted Mary Jane and Olivia Pope. I had hope in my ex-spouse and truly believed he was different, but I am actually more disappointed in him for proving to me that a lot (i am not saying all) black men just cannot be Mr.Huxtable. And the side chicks are not any smarter, they are so desperate for a good black man, they will believe everything he tells them. I actually excuse the ones that do not know, but the ones that do know he is married, I can never understand. Because if he cheats on his wife, what makes you think he won’t cheat on you?

    If you look at the generation of Cliff and Clair Huxtable, you will see that they didn’t have facebook, twitter, instagram, craiglist, backpage, plenty of fish and the rest of the other sites where they could click a button and find temptation. This is not an excuse as to why women are easy and men have available supplies whenever they want, but it is the reality. The goals for that generation were different just like the this generation has a focus on vanity and instant gratificiation.

    In any case, I am a successful, college educated, brilliant black female who does not see a reason why we need to portray Mr./Mrs.Huxtables on TV any longer when the current generation is living like Being Mary Jane. That is actually what life is like out there. So let them show it! When the black race starts behaving like the Huxtables, then believe me, that aspect will be portrayed.

  27. So…what do I think? I think Mary Jane is more realistic than Clair Huxtable. For one thing, the plot is ongoing and I’m sure the writers will have Mary Jane wake up, wondering what the heck she’s doing in this situation with a married man, just like in real life people wake up when they find themselves in dramatic situations that they need to change. Those of you that are bashing the Mary Jane show need to look into your own lives to see where you stack up with either her or one of the other characters, as there are more situations than just the main character.

    Another aspect of the show that I like is the fact that the characters are all professional and in situations most of us can probably relate too. They are not ghetto, it’s not The Housewives of , it’s adult entertainment but not overtly sexualized. I was bored and channel surfing one Sunday night when I found it and I’m hooked. I want to see Mary Jane rediscover herself and move on to confront another realistic situation.

    Keep in mind folks that this is only television – entertainment. So, chill.

    • Thank you Greg. As Sam Jackson said in Do The Right Thing, “Take a chill pill!”

      TV has evolved from June Cleaver to Marge on Married with Children.

      Mary Jane reflects what so many women go through…not just black women. The show is successful because people can relate to it. She is authentic…human…flawed…as we all are….and as the characters are on modern successful shows.

      I would love to see her character get married and then have the shoe on the other foot.

      Just because other people see us as monolithic, doesn’t mean we have to agree with them. We act as if one show/character represents us all..it does not.

      And the sooner we stop believing that the sooner others will too.

  28. If you’re so over it because the character doesn’t relate to you or your experiences, the best solution is to… STOP WATCHING THE SHOWS, WRITE & SHOOT YOUR OWN SCRIPT. Write about what appeals to you and your situation. Stop comparing the SITCOM characters to the DRAMATIC characters. “Being Mary Jane” is very real to a lot of Black, White, Asian, and Latina women. It just so happens that a black woman is portraying the real life experiences. If you don’t like it and it doesn’t apply, TURN OFF THE TELEVISION. And be sure to be examples for your SONS and daughters about how they should honor themselves to tell the truth about what they want from a relationship.

  29. Wow, very insightful. I stopped watching Scandal and didn’t even look at Being Mary Jane because I realized all these women were fine being side-chicks, the home-wreckers and I was idolizing them; rooting for their cause. The saddest thing is that while watching Olivia Pope crying on a couch for a man that isn’t hers and will never be completely hers a lot of women sit on the couch feeling sorry for her but applauding her ‘bravery’ and ‘love’.
    It’s not a African-American problem it’s a social problem where the journey to the forbidden fruit is funner and more entertaining than planting and nurturing a tree of your own.

  30. I feel you but in my real life I have never met the Clair Huxtable but I have met several Mary Janes. I’ve come close to Clair but her husband was a dog and she loved that man. Mary Jane doesn’t have much money but she is in a great position job wise and owns her own home. We relate to Mary Jane more in my opinion because we are looking for love it just happens to be in a the wrong places. We have everything except a man who really loves us. It’s lonely out here and we’ve for the most part have felt like Mary Jane.

  31. You are so right. Why in the world wouldn’t anyone want to be Mary Jane?
    Neither creep will ever see and treat her as his Queen. First and foremost, she settles for less than the best in her personal life. Therefore any creep is able to dangle that bone as often and as long as he likes because he quickly sees her desperation. No one will ever put a ring on it because they don’t have to. And if you think the ring she has on her night stand means anything…….then you are Mary Jane. It is just so unfortunate that these young/old and absolutely out of touch women have not had an opportunity to experience real love. It’s unfortunate that they don’t recognize their own value. Which is what is preventing them from engaging in a real meaningful monogamous relationship. Gabrielle Union is a wonderful actress. But I hate that she is actually portraying Mary Jane. Mary Jane really needs to Wake Up!

  32. That was absolutely awesome. As a bachelor, I had dreams of what my family would be like.as much as I loved my parents, The Cosby gave me something to aspire to. Claire was who i modeled my bride after and I wanted to be successful like Cliff. The show gave us a vision of what black life could be.. I am happy I used them as role models, because I believe I have that family…

  33. Danielle, although Claire Huxtable was a career woman and tv mom icon, when you fast forward 20 years the Olivia Popes and Mary Janes are what we are dealing with. By no means do I condone what they do and how they’re treated but its real life and they deserve to have their story told as well. I don’t believe the writers are glorifying the side chick role because you also see the guilt and turmoil these career women minus the family of 7 face. We’ll see when Claire comes back into style.

    http://kbreezy.tv/2014/01/28/but-hes-married.aspx

  34. Television isn’t reality and if u r r still looking to it to define womanhood and relationships then u clearly know a lot less than my 12 year old daughter who when she was six was more than capable of telling the difference between Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart her dual identities. If the average six year old girl can do that, I bet u could to if you tried.

  35. As a Black woman, I see Mary Jane as an individual. I see her as a complicated multifaceted human being like the rest of us. And, I am not offended by her having sex before marriage or the fact that she has sex with a married man. Tho, I am not cheering her on for the latter, I think we’ve got to stop demonizing every thing that we don’t agree with or negating the bad side of life. We also need to remember that the truth is stranger than fiction. People need to see realism. I haven’t met many women like Claire Huxtable, but I know or have heard of many women with the same relationship issues that Mary Jane is dealing with. Mary Jane doesn’t represent me and neither does Claire Huxtable.

    • OMG!!! It’s amazing that only a few days ago I thought to myself, “I miss Claire Huxtable” (like I knew her or something, lol) But I do. I really, really miss Claire! Why? Because that character was pure class inside and out. She was beautiful AND sexy. Never ONCE she revealed any body parts by wearing skimpy or skin tight clothing. Nor did she have ridiculously HUGE body parts that everyone (suspiciously) seem to have nowadays. That woman was fierce in every way possible. She was sexy, regal, and powerful all wrapped up in one phenomenal package. Yes she was a fictional character, but what a FIERCE ONE!!! Michelle Obama is the closest person that comes to mind when I think of Claire. Nowadays you got every type of degrading image of a female bombarding our eye sights everywhere you turn. Twisted, unreal, oversized, over-sexed, ignorant, low class, desperate, side chick, bottom barrel type of female for women (young and old) to fashion themselves behind. Damn. (tears) ….. “I miss You Claire. I really, really do.” Love forever, Val.

  36. So…what do I think? I think Val Gamble criticizing “ridiculously HUGE body parts that everyone (suspiciously) seem to have nowadays” needs to look in the mirror, or at least look at the image attached to her name on this blog. I don’t know about anyone else, but the first thing I saw when her reply came up on my iPhone were “knockers”. But anyway….

    Is it possible that African American woman and men can be multi-faceted? It’s great that there are good role models in our community, the Obama family being an excellent example, but the bad examples could be used as an example of what not to do and we can use both, the good and the bad, to teach our children how to carry themselves in our society.

    And Val, I’m only messing with you. You look fantastic in your Victoria Secret negligee!

  37. It is really disappointing to see that alot of Americans, in this case,AA, depend on T.V to raise their children. No T.V show should replace the role of a parent/parents in real life. As much as I do not care for the Mary Jane, Have/Have Nots shows; there’s no sense in using them as a scapegoat for our morally inept society. African American’s need to step up and play their roles in society. If you are a mother, instill discipline and ethics in your children. That’s not the role of T.V shows. Unfortunately, many a times, the AA community seems to take the role of victim. Blame everybody else but…. Who is to blame for all these men out here impregnating different women and not taking responsibilities as fathers? Who is to blame for all these young women walking around with children from different men? Who is to blame for these young girls shaking their behinds naked in videos trying to be famous? Who is to blame for all these AA, grown women on ‘reality’ T.V acting like fools and fighting with each other? A lot of people in the AA society that lack moral scruples and standards are always busy trying to blame others for their shortcomings. Unfortunately or fortunately, we are our own advocates. We each carry the burden of proof. My mother;thank God for her, raised me to be the person that I am today. Not T.V.
    Speaking of ‘reality’ T.V, Bravo aired DC housewives with an AA couple that was completely different from what these other shows keep showing on T.V. Stacie was a refreshing image of AA women. Married, educated, well spoken and poised. Apparently, nobody had time for that, because we never saw a repeat season!
    ( this was just a random ad lib 🙂

  38. Great post!!! I find it very disheartening that many would consider a show like Cosby Show boring, outdated, etc. Although I have not watched an episode of Being Mary Jane, from what I gather it is yet another show possibly teaching our young women that it is okay to be a “side chick”. Whether someone chooses to be a “side chick” or not, I do not believe that it is something to be glorified. Sure, if you have been in this type of situation perhaps you can share your story as a cautionary tale of what NOT to do. Who really wins in this type of situation anyway? It’s just not good in my opinion.

  39. I am wondering what about “What black women want?” The whole post is centered around the idea that black women should be more like Claire b/c men still hold her dear. My question is how many Cliff’s are in the world? And when will it be important for black women to be able to live and have experiences without being attacked for not being some fictional ideal?

    Cliff supported, provided, and respected Claire.

    Maybe we need to love each other more and admit that we have some work to do on how we relate to each other within the black community, relationships specifically.

    “But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
    And we don’t teach boys the same? [Do you believe her?]” – Adichie/ [Knowles-Carter]

  40. I don’t agree with this article for one fundamental reason. We, as black women, are NOT a monolith. There are the Claires and there are the Mary Janes and there are all types of women in between. I’m glad we can see ALL of their stories, no matter how “clean” or “dirty”. Mary Jane isn’t perfect, like Claire was, but she is human, like Claire was. Make no mistake, as I will love The Cosby Show until the day I die, but I see reality and humanity in both shows, so I discount neither. When people watch shows and relate to them, they are relating to the “human” element. But in the end these are two different shows about two different women, targeting a myriad of different demographics, so it seems a tad dishonest of this article to compare the two.

  41. Nicely written, Danielle. This is my first time checking you out. If you get time, check out sttone.com and settingthetoneradio.com. We discuss stuff like this all the time.

  42. And therein lies the problem. Why is it that people rely on TV for role models? Do you actually believe that Clair was the woman who encouraged family values. Was the act of watching the show together a sign of a united family without ‘problems’ and how realistic was the ‘Huxtable family unit’ in Black America in their time? I am not a Black American and I have not been in America ( I am African living in UK) but I have learned family values in my household from the way I have seen my parents and siblings interact with each other. We all had access to that show and not once have I heard someone say, I am a good mother because Clair Huxtable was a good mother who juggled that with being an awesome wife and professional. Maybe Mary Jane Paul’s character offends you but I have somehow found that she almost portrays Gabrielle Union’s life pretty well. We complain that black women are not being given opportunities to succeed or that we set our professional bar too low. As an African woman doing a PhD at a young age I have had to ensure the most worthless conversations with people, ‘oh why did you do a PhD before finding a man, no one will want your smart ass now.’ You see gone are the days when being a strong and successful woman meant that men flock your way. Let me tell you Mary Jane is a black American but so many women in the world relate to her and not just black Americans, it is actually refreshing to see finally how hard it is for a successful 30 something almost 40 woman is dealing with the ‘dating life’. How she is not spoilt for choice when it comes to men. They are either married or dating 20 something’s. Watching it I wish they had told young women that wanting a career as bad as a man would result in sacrificing other parts of your life. I am grateful to have a man by my side despite all the nasty things people said to me, but I would never let him go cos I have no idea if I would ever find such a supportive man who is not threatened by my penchant for success. As I always say, we put too much blame on the media when in reality if you allow yourself te opportunity the role models are right beside you. We are so money hungry that’s why we look out for celebrities to be our role models. And we pass by good values such as integrity, strength, wisdom, hard work, patience exhibited in our homes and neighbourhoods by simple folk. Let’s give ourself a say in the way our famiy units evolve, side chick or nah. mistresses have served men since the bible, it’s not Being Mary Jane that’s promoting it, she only showing what most of us are doing to others or experiencing. Reality TV if there ever was.

  43. These shows are destroying the picture of what a woman should be in the eyes of little girls who undoubtedly watch them. The media and entertainment industry have set out to destroy our culture completely. You’re definitely on point with this! Keep it comming and I will keep reading!

  44. Being Mary Jane is adult entertainment that tells stories that highlight consequences from the choices made by the characters in the story. The plots are deep in intertwined. Being Mary Jane is not your typical “Lifestyle” tv drama. I get the impression that some of you may regard the show as sleazy but it’s actually more complicated than that. True emotional and thought provoking circumstances are being drawn out of all the characters, Mary Jane’s mom is coming to grips with an affair that her husband had years ago (death is knocking at her door and she reminisce about the years her and he spent living the “Huxtable” life that she thought was perfect). I can go on but me point is that the show is more thought provoking than I think it’s being given credit for. That being said, I don’t think this type of entertainment is suitable for children of an influential age.

  45. Reblogged this on questforque and commented:
    It is a perfect thought. It makes perfect sense. We have definitely allowed the tables to be turned. This is a very very… direct to the point post of … What was acceptable then… and What s acceptable now. Thanks Danielle 🙂

  46. I believe that people are beginning to take their feelings for Mary Jane and Olivia Pope a bit too personally. It’s called ENTERTAINMENT. You do not have to watch. More importantly you should not judge. No sin is greater than another. Mary Jane ‘s circumstances are more relevant to many than some wives realize. You might want to take notes instead of passing judgment. You’re usually the last to know that your man is the one pursuing the Mary Jane ‘s of the world…

  47. When did going to college and having a successful career make a woman a good side chick?!?!?I have several single friends that make well over $ 100,000/yr and have the right to buy whatever they like without depending on ANY man. The only thing you stated close to the truth was you being out of touch with reality! What you should ask yourself is why do I have the crab in a bucket syndrome. Wake up this is reality. Why dont you address the real issue….the black man! Did she know he was married when she got involved….NO! Did the man she love play her for a white model type chick…..YES! Is her brother on drugs…YES! Is her other brother selling drugs….YES! Are older black women so desperate for a man they are trying to steal her dad before her mom is in the ground….YES! ALL issues stem from the black man not how the media is portraying the black woman. Wake up sweetie this is REALITY!!!! Now tell me how many Claire’s you know???

  48. I think that many here defending the show because they like it but are not considering the effect it has on our community. There is a reason coke, coors, and many other companies pay millions of dollars for a 30sec commercial during the super bowl, imagery affects actions. You don’t have to believe that what you are looking at is true, all you have to do is look at it and it is affecting you.

    Every good parent controls, to the best of their ability, what their children are exposed to. This is because we know it affects there thoughts on what is acceptable. Television is a channel into the mind, it absolutely affects what the mind thinks.

    Thanks for the article, a great discussion.

  49. Funny how so many are spending time attacking a show that shows the reality of a single, educated, black woman in America but didn’t address the shows that are actually portraying African-Americans in a negative way…..Basketball Wives, Love & Hip Hop, Single Ladies…..and the list goes on.

  50. Bang Mary and Marry Clair

    Let’s get something straight…men don’t want the Mary Jane/Olivia Pope types. We want the Clair Huxtable type. We don’t prefer the adulteress…the mean-spirited Jezebel…the non-cooking/non-cleaning house girl behaving like a man. Yeah…many of us will bang her but we want what we consider decency, Clair. No matter what, when it is all said and done the Mary Jane will be alone or regulated to the side-chick. While the good man and/or cheating man will have his Clair. And, we know the truth: Women HATE to be alone. They feel inadequate with alone-ness which is part of the reason they will accept/acquire the Side-Chick role. Not realizing…well they do realize that they are short-changing themselves. Suggestion: Ladies, please don’t by into this media-made and crazed Pope-Jane Monster. It is so so unattractive…

    When did it become unattractive to be the Clair…smh.

  51. To us it’s entertainment but the TV portrayals that the next generation see make the influence of us everyday female role models that much more important! I know society still values what Clair Huxtable represents.

  52. Really loved this blog! Every since, Halle Berry was awarded an Oscar for her role in “Monster’s Ball,” there has been a decline in several roles for the AA actress. AA females are not over-sexed, sideline #*3s. These roles really just add fuel to fires that I, and others have been fighting for years. We are often perceived by the ways we are portrayed in movies and tv…let’s not forget music and videos.

  53. Does anyone ever have anything decent or uplifting to say about Black women. In the end, maybe negative stereotypes pull in more ratings because the CULTURE itself LOVES to vilify black women .. … for whatever reason. The entire burden of appropriateness and decency is meted SOLELY to the black woman. If someone is an unmarried/single mother… then doesn’t that mean there is a man somewhere who has also had a child out of wedlock? In these instances the woman is painted as less than desirable and the male, in his absence is absolved of any of the burden of impropriety. I have never watched any of the aforementioned shows except for the Cosby show… which I stopped watching due to its overly submissive, 2-dimensional portrayal of Claire. A woman who debates and presents arguments AS A PROFESSION must be muted or fully obedient at home? She must be a high performing, multi faceted person when it comes to her earnings and professional life, but put on a “caricature” at home? Maybe one day, a black female character on television can have depth. Maybe she can be professional, decent, humane frustrated, angry, happy, et al. Maybe one day, writers will STOP jumping on the “aint Black women a mess” bandwagon or at least…. write about a black woman or character they do respect. There are enough people in this world who denigrate us, now you , Danielle can be seated amongst the rest of the detractors Black and white.

  54. This is an entertaining read, but I think we spend a lot of time critiquing the outside world instead of cultivating our inner world. This is why little girls and boys compare themselves to people on t.v., beacause grown ups are doing the same thing. I do not identify with African American, a woman, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Clair Huxtable, Mary Jane, Olivia Pope, or Beyonce. I identify with the Spirit of God.. that is all. TV is not real. I AM.

  55. While I agree with several of your points, I must caution you to also not pigeon hole the Black story into one story. I was contacted by my now ex-husband’s lover and informed of there shenanigans.She then asked to meet and provide further information. I chose to work through it with my then husband. A month passed and she contacted me again to find out why I hadn’t done anything! We both had successful careers (not Mary Jane level) and this was back in 1997!

    To go along with the insanity, there are many teachable moments in the show such as her niece who is popping out babies because of low self esteem, her mother who selfishly forces her husband to get a platinum table though he can’t afford it (live beyond your means to paint a false portrait to the Jones) and her supervisor torn between her desires to pursue her career and accepting her ex husbands offer to take the children full time. These are all real life scenarios.

    We have to get to a point where we can tell all of our stories and not worry about what other races think. If they are foolish enough to base their opinions off of television shows and never take the time to personally cultivate relationships with other races, there is a deeper problem there. Those who say that programming like this is affecting our youth, I simply ask WHY your youth is watching this show?

  56. When the Cosby Show was on I thoroughly enjoyed it, and although it was an idealized vision of a family. Most TV mothers were idealized back then. I grew up around black professionals, and found many things I could relate to in the show. The show was ground breaking because it gave another vision of a black family, and it gave many someone to look up to. Being Mary Jane also has some characters that I can relate to, and although I find the show depressing, I enjoy it because it gives us a panorama of different African-American characters. A panorama of different characters that we can relate to in any race. I do not have a problem with the Mary Janes and the Olivia Popes. I do however have a problem with Tyler Perry and all of his ilk, and a lot of the BET programming. I have a feeling that I am being told this what I like, and little effort is made to show a bigger spectrum of African Americans especially when African Americans are involved in the production of the show. The sad thing is not the deterioration or the evolution of Clair Huxtable into Mary Jane, the sad thing is that is that the is so little in between.

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