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Side Chicks Unite: The Olivia Pope & Mary Jane Effect


It’s a happy day in TV land!

The last episode of Being Mary Jane and the winter premiere of Scandal just dropped and all of the Gladiators and MJ’s are in zombie-like induced comas.

The excitement is insane!

Side Chicks2Everything stops and re-routes, especially for Scandal: Scandal parties all over, folks changing their bible study night, news feed on Twitter and Facebook going crazy.

I mean, this show is so good I can’t even go on FB on Fridays due to all of the discussion and spoilers ( I DVR; gotta get my beauty sleep).

It’s like a strong movement uniting us as a people– reminiscent of The Cosby Show days.

Why We Love 

Black folks love to see black folks on tv, especially when they represent us well.

We are now in a season where blacks are prospering in the theatre and on the tube.  Not only are we in the leads, there are diverse casts of people of color to support.  It makes us feel good.

We love these shows because they represent strong black women running things. It is a rarity for us to have any dramatic series with an African-American lead, particularly a woman.

We respectfully envy these chic women with their fancy clothes, exceptional cars (Olivia has a driver) and “get it done by any expense” swagger.

The casting and story lines are spectacular (Shonda Rhimes is a beast!).  The writers and producers do a superb job writing us and showcasing our many sides, the lives that we lead and the families that support us.They keep us guessing. They keep us on the edge of our seats.

They keep us rooting hard for the side-chicks.


The Side-Chick in all Her Glory

The “side-chick” concept is nothing new.

Countless movies, songs and tv shows have showcased the topic for decades. But to a certain degree in this era, it has become socially acceptable.

We see the anguish these characters go through in the continual cycle of their conscious kicking the men to the curb and their weak flesh taking them back.  We can identify with them because with all of their fabulousness (yes, we’re making up words) they still have the same love relationship problems that we do.

We have compassion for them–even though we know they’re dead wrong.

I believe that one of the key things that have allowed us to accept the affairs in these shows is in both cases the wives are fully aware of the affairs and remain silent.

Why?  Because the side-chicks have unified and are calling the shots.

On Scandal, the wife (Mellie) actually condones it most of the time because she is in the marriage for her own political aspirations.  Olivia keeps Fitz (the president and fake boo) happy which keeps Mellie on the fast-track to the top.

In Being Mary Jane, the wife is not condoning but is so afraid to be a woman alone with two children, she just sits idly by.  She never exposes Mary Jane. It’s not clear why, but I would assume that she doesn’t want to put the spotlight on due to her professional career.  Secondly, maybe she feels that it would infuriate her husband and that will make him leave.


It’s a Thin Line

Both shows have taken a lot of hits in regards to how black women are portrayed. They walk a thin line of showcasing real situations and glorifying the side-chick.

When I watch these shows, I watch from various angles.  Of course, the primary reason is pure enjoyment but I liketumblr_mm7ygu2S321qibe9eo1_500 to watch character development, how the character gets in various situations and how they maneuver their way out. Their actions will no more make me want to sleep with someone’s husband than a vigilante movie will make me go on a killing spree after I leave the theatre.  Most of us can separate fact from fiction.

I am concerned for the individuals, particularly young ladies, that can’t make this separation and think that this is appropriate behavior. They see it as the “new normal” and don’t see (or sometimes care) how these decisions hurt people in real life.

A recent blog post by Aja Dorsey Jackson  “I Was Mary Jane; Why I Settled for Being the Side-Chick” provides some insight on this issue and the long term-effects on the both sides of an affair…in real life.


At the End of the Day…

It’s a show.   I WILL be watching over the next few weeks to see how creative Shonda Rhimes will be in hiding Olivia’s baby bump. I want to know how James is going to beat Cyrus, “the Devil.” What devastation is Momma and Poppa Pope cooking up? Will we FINALLY see Harrison get a storyline?

And yes, I will be separating fact from fiction–so no need to hold your man close.


State Your Case!

  • What are your thoughts about the “side chick” mentality?
  • How do you feel about Scandal and Being Mary Jane?
  • What impressions do these shows make or promote?
  • What else do you want to say?


Let your thoughts and opinions be heard in the comments section below!




Permanent link to this article: http://www.keepitmovingblog.com/2014/03/06/side-chicks-unite-the-olivia-pope-mary-jane-effect/


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  1. Dori Ray

    I’ve been a side-chick during my “don’t give a damn” days. It’s never a good place, but it makes for great TV. We’ve been watching white women on All My Children and The Young And The Restless for years…..it’s just our turn to play the role now! I agree with you, as long as we remember this is TV we all be fine…..

    1. Nichole Renee

      Dori, I can always count on you for your honesty. I think I may have been around during some of “those days.” Thanks for reading AND commenting. Also congrats on your new blog “Brandneweverymorning” at http://www.dorimray.com.

  2. Valerie

    Nichole this is a good article, well thought out and insightful. I’ve been debating on whether or not I will continue to watch Scandal. I love the political intrigue but hate the Olivia/Fitz relationship. It sets a bad example in too many ways to describe in a paragraph.

    BTW, for a child who rolled her eyes (behind my back) because I made you read an write essays during summer vacation, it seems to have paid off!

    1. Nichole Renee

      Mom, I wondered that too. Especially on the last episode where they were making out in the oval office and Mellie walked in, saw them and didn’t say anything. They didn’t really even flinch. It is going that next step of just too far. Hopefully, Shonda will tone that crap down.

  3. Keisha

    One thing that I like is that Scandal and Being Mary Jane have characters that are allowed to act as regular black people act. Neither Olivia or Mary Jane is forced into being the stereotypical (take your pick): maid, perfect friend, sexually neutral girl next door, ghetto hot mess, perfect dream wife with zero flaws, or gangsta boo. These characters are intelligent, but they have FLAWS, and they have issues that are unique to their character. That is great characterization! I always loved “The Cosby Show”, but there are times when I wondered, how come blacks are either criminal or perfect? Whatever happened to the in-between, where we all are really. Great post Nichole!

    1. Nichole Renee

      Keisha, you are so right! That is one of the things that I appreciate with the writers is making all of their attributes positive and real. You see them sad, you see them cry, you see them with their family curled up on the coach with their fluffy house shoes. I can’t wait to see what they are going to come up with next!

  4. Aja @makinglovinthemicrowave

    Great article Nichole! Thank you for linking to my post.

    1. Nichole Renee

      Hi Aja! Thanks so much for reading my post. I thoroughly enjoyed your article and your candidness, as well as your thoughtfulness and concern for the guys family. I really like how you tied in how it affected your life and attitude towards your spouse. Good stuff.

      I look forward to reading your future posts.

  5. Fred Johnson, III

    Nikki: Excellent commentary and very well written. I can see that our investment in your psychology degree was money well spent. I guess these men that cause such loss and pain in the lives of many of these women produce a pleasure and an escape for them that is well worth the “mirage.” In any event, it seems you have tapped into a dilemma that is alive and well.

    1. Nichole Renee

      Thanks, Dad! I wanted to make the ROI very clear so that you wouldn’t start sending me letters for tuition refunds. Thanks for your comment. As usual, it was much appreciated!

  6. Breeze

    Nichole-How cool is it that Your Mom+Dad review and comment on your articles?… That’s really nice.

  7. Jae

    What are your thoughts about the “side chick” mentality?
    ~Thoughts: it always feels and appears okay until you know that it’s not!

    How do you feel about Scandal and Being Mary Jane?
    ~ It’s a TV Show…there are always going to be people that watch shows and want to imitate parts of them into their lives.

    What impressions do these shows make or promote?
    ~They promote lies and fantasy and more lies and broken hearts and relationships, a lot of ooohhhs and “oh no she didn’t”, a lot of conversation and a lot of money! Hollywood Loves Money…even if it destroys you!

    1. Nichole Renee

      Hi Jae, thanks so much for your comments. Folks definitely need to understand that it’s a TV show and that Hollywood wants to get paid!

  8. daphney

    I am conflicted about the topic. On one hand I was a wife who was cheated on numerous times in my marriage. So my heart goes out to the First wives club (lol) but the bottom line is these side chicks are in many cases delusion. To think a man will cheat on his wife and be loyal to you is insanity. He has shown you his character its time to believe what you see.. As Olivia Pope is finding out now Fritz wants him cake and the cherry aka Liv on top….

    1. Nichole Renee

      Daphney thanks for your comments. I totally agree on the point of the insane thought of the cheater being faithful to you after they leave the other person. Definitely shows their character. Awesome points!

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