‘The Game’ Review

The Game, created by Mara Brock Akil, first began as a spinoff of Girlfriends (2000) but quickly evolved into so much more. The show starring Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Hosea Chanchez and Coby Bell follows the lives of a fictional pro football team known as the San Diego Sabers as well as the player’s wives and girlfriends. The series began in 2006 on the CW and was later picked up by BET in 2009 after the channel canceled the show.

Over the course of nine seasons, we got to know many characters and gain access to a number of unique perspectives. The series was one of the first to use a 30-minute platform for a dramatic-comedy. The Game is perfect for everyone because it is simultaneously hilarious and serious.

As you would expect from a series about football players, the show circles topics that are often associated with the lives of pro football players such as infidelity and drug use. For example in season one, Melanie (Tia Mowry-Hardrict) and Derwin’s (Pooch Hall) relationship gets tested when hot young R&B singer Drew Sidora asks Derwin to be her love interest in her new music video — and that was far from the only issue for these two.

In the first few seasons, Melanie has a hard time balancing her medical school classes with the responsibilities that come with being a football girlfriend. This issue then came to a head in season 5 when Melanie decided she wanted to forgo being a housewife to go and do her residency at Johns Hopkins.

Aside from this drama, Jason Pitts (Coby Bell), one of the team’s oldest players, resorts to steroids after learning he might be benched the rest of season — which may be his last if he doesn’t start to play better — and things only get worse for him when he lies to his wife Kelly (Brittany Daniel) about taking them. Many relationships throughout the show fail due to the complexities of the world of fame and football while a select few make it to the end.

The Game also explores the way race plays a part in the game of football. For example, Malik (Hosea Chanchez) is often getting into fights and violent bursts no matter how many times his mother warms him against the repercussions of being a black man and celebrity arrested by cops. His mother Tasha (Wendy Raquel Williams) is a single woman who had Malik at 14-years-old and raised him by herself, something she often looks at as a stereotype. Together the two have worked hard to move on from their former life in a low income section of Richmond, California by making sure Malik made it to the NFL. Now that he is here they need to make sure nothing goes wrong or they will lose it all.

Then in season 6, we are introduced to a few new characters; Keira Whitaker (Lauren London), a former child actress trying to get back in the game, and Bryce “Blue” Westbrook (Jay Ellis), the Saber’s new wide receiver. The two officially meet at Blue’s draft night party and hit it off. Unfortunately, their relationship was anything but smooth after that first night. The couple had a difficult time managing both their careers and their relationship. Keira and Blue’s story depicts the choices and sacrifices that actors and pro athletes often need to make for their careers.

The show manages to tackle all of these hard-hitting topics all while remaining comical — something that can be difficult to master. I highly recommend watching The Game as it is fun to watch yet teaches us a bit about the lives of others we might not know. Start watching The Game right away.

The Game seasons 1-9 are available to stream on Hulu.

Grade: A

By Blair Krassen @blairlyawake

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