‘The Game’ Doubles Down On Melodrama, Eliminates What Fans Loved

By Tyler Lewis

Over at my own blog, I review the fifth season premiere of The Game, which aired last night on BET:

“If Mara Brock Akil and BET want to make a black nighttime telenovela where the cast never interacts with one another, where the relationships established in the first three seasons are thrown out in favor of separate, unconnected, over-the-top storylines for each of the five leads, then it should decide on what kind of show that is and settle on a consistent tone.

Because I do think the ship has sailed on any hope that The Game will be the show that folks wanted to be brought back. I think the audience has accepted it (and, likely, moved on). The producers should commit to it.”

It just seems odd to me that fans resurrected a show — a black show — only to have the producers of that show gut everything about the show that made fans want it back in the first place. And by “odd,” I mean “wrong.”


The Game was a sitcom with real heart and humanity in its first three seasons. It was a show that was incredibly funny, but also managed to create six characters that struggled and matured in believable ways over the course of those seasons. The plotting always flowed from the characters.

But on BET, the show is shallow and tonally inconsistent, and most of the characters have been flattened. It uses a drug-addicted model to ineffectively humanize and save Malik Wright, but doesn’t even bother to make her a three-dimensional character that the audience can care about. It reduces one of its most intriguing and sympathetic characters, Tasha Mack, to the very thing — ghetto fabulous loudmouth — she was initially created to subvert, even as it finds new and intriguing ways of deepening self-hating, cheap Jason Pitts (providing Coby Bell with the opportunity to prove yet again that he’s the show’s greatest, most versatile, asset). And it forgets almost entirely that the male characters are football players since we never see them at practice or in the locker room anymore.

I don’t know if BET knows that its version of The Game plays like everyone involved has contempt for the audience that saved it, but…well, it does now. This is not the show that fans wanted back and worse, in its new incarnation, it doesn’t even work on its own terms.