I’ve complained on this blog before about the decline of the black sitcom. It’s difficult to find positive portrayals of black people on network TV these days. But the story of the show “The Game” gives me hope. The hype around the season premiere last night was huge. Twitter was going crazy, fans were super excited because this was what we’d been waiting two years for. I stayed up and watched the hour premiere last night, and while I didn’t think it sucked, I have issues with some things.
But before we get in to last nights episode, some history. “The Game” ran on UPN for three seasons and was cancelled in 2009 after UPN merged with the WB to become The CW. Both channels were known for their black sitcoms and with the merger, all of them like “Everybody Hates Chris”, and Eve’s sitcom were cancelled. The Game had a strong fan base and people did not want to see it go. In an effort to save the show, the creators even pitched changing the show to a one hour drama to fit in with other programming on the channel. Fans flocked to Facebook and YouTube, creating a big online campaign to save the show but ultimately it was cancelled. I remember hearing the news and I was upset. I was a fan of the show, in the beginning I only watched it to see Tia Mowry in a role other than on “Sister, Sister”. But because it was one of the last black shows around, I wanted it to last.
BET came to the rescue. After months and months of rumors of whether or not they’d pick up the show, they announced that they would and 13 new episodes were shot last year in Atlanta. The premiere was big, with 7.7 million viewers tuning in. I was so excited for its return, since I heard a lot of good things about the first episode. Here are my thoughts.
One of the main things fans were worried about was if BET would change the show and turn it in to something different. That did not happen. The first episode was written by the shows creators, the entire cast is back, as well as the team behind the scenes. However, it was different. Two years had passed in the storyline and the characters were dealing with way more drama.
I’m not going to go in to a full plot recap (Necole Bitchie has a great one on her site), I’ll just talk about the things that irked me.
First of all, Terrence J. He’s the host of 106 and Park, and on that show he’s barley tolerable, but to be cast as Tasha Mack’s young, supposedly sexy, boy toy was so wrong! Leading up to the premiere, Terrence wouldn’t say what role he was playing, but I so figured it out. The first time we see him, he’s walking out of the bathroom in a towel, making out with Tasha. I’m sorry, but it was gross! The only thing I was thinking was, that’s Terrence J from 106, I couldn’t believe his character and his acting was weak. If he’s going to be on this show for a while, he’s going to have to prove himself and step it up.
The story line itself also bothered me. If two years had passed, why was Melanie just starting to question Derwin’s baby’s paternity? Wouldn’t she have wanted to test the child as soon as he was born? And what was up with Kelly? It sounds like she will only be in a few episodes this season, and her character has changed completely. When the last season ended she and Jason were already going through a divorce, why two years later are they still bickering and hating each other? Why would Kelly still threaten to beat up Tasha on the streets if they hadn’t spoken in two years? Things like that just didn’t add up and made the characters look stupid. What I found really interesting was the relationship between Malik and his friend/assistant Tee Tee. Tee Tee seemed to be the only character who really grew in the two years since the show ended. It’s a minor storyline, but the one that I’m most interested to see play out.
There were other minor things that annoyed me, like the outside shots not looking like California, Jason and Kelly’s daughter looking like she’s 17 when in the last season she looked 12 and Meagan Good. However, the little things that bugged me made the show fun to watch and I will continue to watch it.
Props to BET for stepping in to the scripted television genre in a big way. With the huge ratings, other networks will take note and realize that audiences of colour will tune in to shows that we are passionate about. The Game’s success is good for the diversity of TV.