‘The Game’: Season 5 Premiere Review

I highly doubt that people are as excited for Season 5 of The Game as they were for Season 4. I know I wasn't, given how uneven Season 4 turned out to be, but I was curious to see if some of the problems from last season were ironed out and if Season 5 might return the show to its pre-BET greatness.

Find out what I think after the jump.  Reviews of Season 4 can be found here.

 

I wonder if Mara Brock Akil has been taking notes from Jenji Kohan on how to evolve a show so much that it doesn't even resemble what it first was.

Weeds started out as a funny dark comedy about a suburban widow who sells weed to her neighbors and then over the course of seven seasons became a melodrama of the first order. In the first couple of seasons, it was a fine entrant into a class of filmmaking that explores the issues "perfect suburbanites" hide behind their manicured lawns and SUVs. But Weeds in Season 7 is like an entirely different show with the same characters.

Well – The Game in Season 5 is an entirely different show from The Game Season 1 with the same characters. And in the same way that Weeds 2.0 pales in comparison to Weeds 1.0, The Game as a melodramatic telenovela is just not as compelling as the dramedy of its early years.

The Jenna overdose story is just wrong. There is a way to tell jokes in the midst of tragedy, but The Game fails at it. It doesn't help that Jenna, as a character, is still a cipher. We don't know who she is. We don't care about her. And we don't believe that Malik really cares about her as much as he suggests. And in the end, the story just trivializes drug abuse in a way that is really uncomfortable to watch.

I really liked the way the "Melanie had an abortion" storyline developed though because it was played seriously and was rooted in so much of the history of Melanie and Derwin and who they are as people.

I believe that Melanie would abort Trey Wiggs' baby because she didn't want to lose Derwin, even though they were already broken up due to his infidelity with Drew Sidora. I believe that because Melanie is the woman who gave up Johns Hopkins to follow him to San Diego and, apparently, gave up practicing medicine to be head of the Sunbeams. I also believe it because Tia Mowry Hardrict is really good at conveying the conflict borne of Melanie's devotion to Derwin and the underlying resentment of him as a result of that devotion. 

And I believe that Derwin would be angrier at the fact that the baby was Trey Wiggs' than the fact that it was aborted. And I believe that going through the process of juggling his relationships with Melanie and Janay at DJ's party and understanding what that must be like for Melanie – not to mention knockin Wiggs' out – would be enough to start him on the road to forgiveness.

Jason's "woke up married to Chardonnay" storyline is pure sitcom, but at least it succeeds at that. Coby Bell remains the show's greatest asset and he gets lots of great moments in the episode. His rant to Brandy's Chardonnay at the bar is classic Jason Pitts, classic The Game, and hilarious.  His dramatic monologue about where he believes his color and race issues come from was equally as good.

But none of this adds up to a cohesive whole. What bothers me about the season premiere is that the show has doubled down on its new format, but it just isn't pitched quite right. The tone that you need to make this new telenovela style work is not here. 

Unlike Weeds 2.0, The Game is still trying to have it both ways – it's still trying to hold onto The CW version, even though the show's structure, tone, characterization, and plotting have changed dramatically in this new BET version. In other words, the show simply cannot blend the earnest tone of Derwin and Melanie's storyline with the melodrama of Tasha Mack and Malik and the sitcom hilarity of Jason Pitts to create a show with a clear identity.

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.

About tlewisisdope

I write. I live in DC.
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14 Responses to ‘The Game’: Season 5 Premiere Review

  1. SweetTea says:

    Very Good article once again! Your reviews are so knitted and your points are strong, in addition, you are a great writer. I also found that the premier was awkward. I was wondering if it was that I was distracted that took away the clarity from the show, but, I felt as though I was watching something else. The best storyline was Melanie and Derwin’s and that of the abortion fiasco, it was believable and the drama was there as for the other two storylines I did not like it. In my opinion, The Game has lost it’s ”essence” and I don’t know if it would ever regain it.

  2. SweetTea says:

    There’s another point I forgot lol! I do not like BritBrat! The character annoys me I just feel like slapping her. I mean a 13 yr old out at night dressed like that and kissing on the street, plus the actress looks nothing like a 13 yr old. Instead, they should have made Brittany’s character likeable, by developing suitable storylines for her age group instead of the typical stereotyped adolescent.

  3. LaWanda says:

    Hey, Once again great review.
    Likes: I actually liked The abortion story and how it unfolded. I am glad they gave us Melanie’s point of view by turning the tables on Derwin. What if? What is she had the baby? Would Derwin want her and would he be able to love and accept the child?
    I liked Jason’s storyline, I actually know black people with the same dilemma. And it was refreshing to see another side of him.
    Didn’t care about Jenna last season and I still don’t care. Not to mention their scenes were pointless and added nothing to the show.
    The show still feels uneven but I hope it will get better.

  4. tigger500 says:

    I totally agree. And thank you for the compliment.

  5. tigger500 says:

    Yea, it isn’t clear to me how old BritBrat is supposed to be now. But she turned 6 in the first season so in the life of the show she should be about 12. The actress playing her is too old, but I do think that she is believably the child of dysfunctional parents like Jason and Kelly. I like that her race issues are what sparked Jason to look at his own. That made sense to me.

  6. tigger500 says:

    Thanks LaWanda – you know, I’m not sure The Game will get better than it is now. I think the producers are making the show they want to make and I think they are ok with that show being more melodramatic than the original show. Hope has run out over here.

  7. Jade1989 says:

    I’ve given up on wanting the show to be like it was the first three seasons. With, new actors, actors physically changing and getting older, and time going by, it would have been impossible to start season four where they left off with season three. But, season five is looking good to me. I enjoyed the different story lines. However I did feel Malik’s was story over-the-top. But, I got it! He was endebted to Jenna, who helped him when he needed it. Plus, he loved her and wanted to take care of her. Jenna’s role was flat and so was TeeTee’s. I liked it though and will be watching every week!

  8. Meka says:

    The weak part of the episode, for me, was the OD s/l…I enjoyed everything else. Since Malik is drug-free now, and taking Jenna & her under-deveveloped self back to rehab, maybe they’ll start focusing more on his relationships with the other core characters. There were some glimpses of that in the episode, so we’ll see. I’m glad they had Jason & Malik come to the b-day party. I see that as one sign that the writers are knitting the core characters together again, which is definitely needed. I think Coby Bell & Brandy had good chemistry, and I enjoyed their scenes. Jennifer Coolidge was funny & I’m interested in seeing what they do with her character. Overall, this episode was MUCH better than last season (ugh). I enjoyed watching it, and unlike much of last season, I’m actually looking forward to next week’s episode.

  9. Smoochie says:

    Hey y’all, I stumbled across your blog and I must say I have enjoyed reading all the comments. I love The Game and was very disappointed by last season. I’ve read that some of you don’t like Melanie, well I’ve always loved her character. Yes, she’s over-the-top right now, but her character still has that vunerability about it. It has shown the extent some of us will go through to support and keep our men. And even though I missed Season 5’s premiere, I like what I’ve heard about the Melanie and Derwin plot line. I can’t wait to see it. I am going to really enjoy watching Derwin’s (Shoe-on-the-other-foot) face.
    The Jason storyline should be hilarious. And having the guys come to the birthday party may be the beginning of that reconnecting
    everyone speaks of. Also, Kelly should be continue to be a part of the show and Brit-Brat reined in some. And as for Tasha Mack, “Pow-Pow!” every once in a while. Lol
    “Keep Up The Good Blogging!”

  10. Jennifer Charlebois says:

    Don’t forget we joined the characters ‘two years later’ after they got married, when Derwin hit it big, so Brit’s age does make sense.

  11. Jennifer Charlebois says:

    Can you explain the Mel/ Derwin story, because I’m confused. Last season Mel told the doc she never had an abortion but when he leaves, Derwins asks if was his – so he knew Mel lied to the doc and wanted to know if he was the father.
    Season 5: Derwin apologizes for not being there for her when he and Mel “were in college 10 years ago and were just starting out” when she had the abortion, but then Mel later admits she had an abortion but it was after the Drew Sidora incident (that part makes sense) and Tasha gave her the money for it (which Tasha didn’t know what Mel really used the $$ for (which also makes sense because that was about the time she moved in with Dion and she revealed Tasha gave her $5000). So how could Mel have an abortion while they were in college, “10 yrs. back” as Derwin thought, but really did it while Derwin was with the Sabres (which was the only reason he ended up in the Drew Sidora video in the first place which was less than 10 yrs ago) Why couldn’t they just leave out Derwin’s ‘schpeal’ about 10 years ago – it didn’t fit the time line. I think it would have made more sense if Mel admitted to Derwin she had an abortion in the doc’s office and then reveal it was Trey’s baby. Why would she lie to a doc knowing she and Derwin knew the truth?

  12. LaWanda says:

    Hi. Melanie lied to the doctor because she never told anybody about her abortion, not even Derwin, but Derwinn knew she wss lying and confronted her about it. Derwin took it upon himself to jump to conclusions. I think he wanted to believe it was his baby because he couldn’t imagine Mel being pregnant by anybody but him. Melanie finally told him what happen, the abortion was Trey’s baby not his.
    Derwin never knew about the abortion. But when the doctor asked Melanie if she ever had an abortion and Melanie quickly told the doctor “no absolutely not” Derwin knew right then she was lying.

  13. Meka says:

    Maybe the writers brought up that college scenario to set the stage for them to bring back some old college haunts (friends/enemies/issues) of Melanie & Derwin in future episodes.

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