Can’t Stop Watching: Thoughts on BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane,’ ‘SNL’s’ Hires, What’s Hot/Not & More

by | January 9, 2014 at 8:42 PM | American Horror Story: Coven, Black Entertainment, Blood Sweat & Heels, Bravo, Saturday Night Live, TV News

Gabrielle Union as Mary Jane Ball in BET's "Being Mary Jane." (Photo: BET Networks/Quantrell D. Colbert)

Happy 2014!

I know it’s been a while, and like the show’s we all love, I took a winter hiatus from my column. It’s all good because now there’s plenty to talk about, especially in TV news.

“Saturday Night Live”: You know the big news is that “Saturday Night Live” has hired Sasheer Zamata as its newest cast member and two black female writers–Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes. Remember the firestorm that erupted when cast member Kenan Thompson implied black women weren’t “ready” during “SNL” auditions? This after people were already giving the show the side-eye after six of its summer hires were all white. . So show creator Lorne Michaels said they would work on it’s diversity issue and vowed to hire a black female before the end of 2013. New Year’s rolled around and crickets. Then bam! — on Monday they announced Zamata’s hire and yesterday,the  Jones and Tookes additions. We will have to see if these ladies are funny and will add zest to the 39-year-old show. If not, I’m sure a petition for revive Fox’s “In Living Color” will be circling. 

“Blood, Sweat & Heels“: In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new reality show on the block that has everyone talking–Bravo’s  Blood, Sweat & Heels.”  I watched the show last month after receiving an advance copy but that didn’t stop me from tweeting right along with everyone else during the premiere episode. Thoughts? Oh, I have plenty but you’ll have to check back tomorrow for my in-depth analysis. In the meantime, I chatted with style expert Daisy Lewellynone of the show’s stars, a few times about the show and what we can expect. Read our first discussion here, where she explains why Jesus is her husband (Yes, you read correctly) and why fellow co-star, “A Belle in Brooklyn” blogger and author Demetria Lucas flatly told her, “Jesus is a great companion but you can’t f— him.” Some people live tweeting the show didn’t like that comment… And my piece that published today where Lewellyn share’s her thoughts on the show claiming Bravo its highest-rated series debut with 2.5 million viewers and how she and Lucas are pitted against each other here. This still sounds very foreign to you? No worries, watch the first episode, “Six in the City,” here

Being Mary Jane“: When it comes to BET’s new series Being Mary Jane,” I have to honestly say that I really didn’t have any expectations wrestling with her choices. Plenty of that on and off the tube to witness if I so chose. Plus the overall depiction of black women on TV seems so generic and uninteresting even when its trying to be the opposite that I become utterly bored.  I have to say “Being Mary Jane” wasn’t a fail. From the TV movie and the first episode that premiered Tuesday night, it seems creator Mara Brock Akil and hubby director Salim Akil are looking to create a character–played by Gabrielle Union– somewhat different–at least spiritually–than how black women are typically portrayed.  She doesn’t practice a particular religious denomination but is spiritual, at least we gather from the Buddha statue and New Age book–“Ask and It Is Given” (I own it)– in her home. Union and I talk about that in my interview with her here, among other things, including the marital advice she offers.  I personally find this approach to spirituality more refreshing as there are many paths to God. What does seem more typical is that she’s a “strong black woman” who seems to support her family. But as co-star Richard Roundtree hinted in a forthcoming interview I have with him, future episodes may show family members stepping up their game. We shall see. 

American Horror Story: Coven“: I watched “AHS: Coven” last night but was a bit distracted (gasp!) and thus feel I’d cheat you out of a hearty recap. It was interesting. People die, people get played and rocker Stevie Nicks guest stars as herself. If the show’s holiday break has you scratching your head, catch up here. Otherwise watch the episode below.

Also, Zoe Saldana is slated to star in an NBC miniseries remake of Roman Polanski’s 1968 film  “Rosemary’s Baby” based on Ira Levin’s classic, E! News reports. I don’t know about this one. I think Saldana is a capable actress, but you know I like classics, and this one is a childhood fave.  It’s not so much Saldana playing Rosemary Woodhouse that’s a question; it’s who’s going to play Minnie Castevet? Ruth Gordon’s Oscar-winning portrayal is awesome and one of my favorite movie characters (the other is  George Sanders as Addison DeWitt in “All About Eve”). Aside from that, I’m sure it’ll be fine as “American Horror Story’s” James Wong is co-writing the screenplay. Filming also begins later this month in Paris.  Want to see the original? Watch it via XFINITY On Demand here

On my watchlist? What I’m tuning in to see and what I’ll catch up with XFINITY On Demand …
“Girls”:  This show debuted when I was going through my “all about books” phase and I didn’t watch it. I’m catching up on some episodes before its season 3 return. It airs Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on HBO. [WATCH HERE]
“House of Lies”: Marty Kaan and the gang are back. And you know what? You can watch the first episode of season 3 before it airs! I plan to. It airs Sunday at 10 p.m. EST on Showtime. [WATCH HERE]

The Hot List: Who/What’s Hot, Not
HOT: Outkast hosting New York’s Governors Ball (NICE!).
NOT: Manufactured Beef (Whether it’s to sell an album, drawn-in eyeballs for TV ratings or whatever!).

HOT: “The View’s” Sherri Shepherd shedding 30 pounds (We see you, lady!).
NOT: Marissa Alexander could be thrown back in prison for running errands (Really?).

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.