I ran across an extended trailer for a new show coming on the Black Entertainment Television a/k/a BET starring Gabrielle Union called “Being Mary Jane” now based on the rep of the channel, you almost want to think it’s about the life of Marijuana (as if it has it’s own separate life) but actually I have been following this show and am eagerly awaiting it to come on in July.
I have a sometime lunch partner at work. When we do have lunch 98% of our conversation is usually abstractly centered on films and television (and politics). We have had three or four days of robust conversation about Halle Berry and when she’s not the topic of conversation, Monique has been our new muse, lol
She also has been keeping up with “Being Mary Jane” and today we got into this conversation about BET and we both decided that BET better not be trying to sneak back in at momma’s house during the holidays in a classic Sophia move!!
As we spoke, my mind went back to the beginnings of BET. I remember the first day. I think I’ve skipped school for television twice in my life. Once for Greg and Jenny’s wedding on All My Children and the first day of BET. It was January 25, 1980 (all information comes from Wikipedia, I’m good but not THAT good, lol). An entire channel dedicated to the souls of black folks! WOW!
We were hooked! Donnie and Sherry kept us coming back. The music video was up and running and suddenly you could ‘see’ your favorite song and the folks who sung it.
I told her that though BET has has some iffy, janky periods, I couldn’t not love BET and some of the things it exposed me to. BET introduced me to a wild afro’ed GOD named Maxwell! He came on Rachel’s Show “Planet Groove” It introduced me to Erykah Badu. I remember that so vividly because I cried listening to her. I have NO IDEA where I was in my head at the time, but I remember sitting on the floor in front of the TV and tears just streaming listening to her sing. Remember Video Vibrations? Cita used to slay me! Teen Summit (even though I was a bit older) was a great show. Comic View introduced me to adult comedy. Remember when we had….NEWS! I used to watch BET for a couple of hours a day.
Then I got older and BET went somewhere dark and I couldn’t follow it. I could just blame Bob Johnson but as I looked at it today, it was a combination one two punch of trying to figure out a way to embrace rap/hip hop and push the envelope and give a voice to black folks who’s exact fault is it really that the culture and the people embracing and presenting the new culture seemingly took a walk on the gully side?
We cussed BET out on the DAILY!! I mean WTH WTF and WTH again, lol It seemed like the powers that be just held up their middle finger at the collective.
Then one day they had a show called the BET Awards. Folks were like WHOAAA! What a great production (well you know what I mean still BET but the show and the performers and the appearances of folks from days gone by wow!). Then the BET Honors, the the BET Hip Hop Awards and the CYPHERS! Folks like me were coming back to BET like 3 or 4 times a year and we didn’t burst into flames, lol
Next they started trying to have scripted shows. They revived The Game (it’s biggest endeavor in my opinion) and after tossing that up in the air over an open damn flame, it finally got it’s foot hole and I actually jumped up at this years mid-season finale. They have tried a couple of shows and they keep trying.
Now they have deals for more original programming and something I’m actually looking forward to seeing.
I had to find some way to describe how I feel about BET and this is what I came up with:
BET is the child that was raised with you in the same household by the same parents. Ya’ll were given the same instruction and belief system YET at some point, it decided to go out into the world and find itself. It was all over the place ho’ing and partying and acting a damn fool and you sat and wondered how could two entities raised in the same house turn out so very differently!
Then one day, they start trying to come around to the house again. They show up for a couple of Sunday dinners and you notice they are looking and sounding better on a more consistent basis. Suddenly them and their kids are at Thanksgiving dinner and everyone is just like ‘come on in..come on lala and man man, we see ya’ll” Now no one forgets how you been out there wilding and all these damn kids and how you look a bit rough around the edges..but you family..so get you and yo kids a plate”
BET might just be showing up for Thanksgiving soon if they keep it up.