We’ve all felt it. The first time we laid eyes on it, we just knew. Loved it instantly, we felt like old friends. Their faces, echoed our own. Their drama mirrored our struggles, so we secretly rooted for a happy ending, knowing that fairy tales rarely come true…and real life..never quite looks like art, but this was close.
Last week saw the return of the hit comedy, “The Game.” After being unexpectedly canceled nearly two years ago, “The Game” resurrected solely on the strength of its fans and their love for the characters, storyline, and of course, the drama. But little talked about in this story is the role we, Black women, played in bringing the show back.
Once upon a time, the CW was the spot for quality programming geared toward Black women. Ever since “Living Single” made its (equally abrupt) swansong in 1998, Black women were clamoring for a well-written, well-acted show that depicted characters that looked like us. When the CW debuted “Girlfriends” we fell head over heels for Joan, Toni, Lynn, and Maya. We watched as the quartet fell in and out of love, followed their dreams, and supported each other as friends. Many of us snagged style tips, learned what NOT to do in relationships, and appreciated our girls so much more after watching. And just as we grew closer to our TV girlfriends, the show’s creator, Mara Brock Akil, gave us another love, “The Game.”
For three seasons we got a peak into the glamorous and not so glamorous side of the lives of football players and their families. We rode for Melanie and Derwin’s relationship, shook our heads at Malik’s utter foolishness, and channeled our inner Tasha Mack every now and again when we had to get tough. Before it was yanked from the airwaves, “The Game” was one of the most popular shows in Black households, garnering upwards of two million viewers each week.
But just as quickly as we fell in love with the show, it was gone. And Black women weren’t having it.
Bolstered by fan support, the crew of “The Game” launched the “Change ‘The Game’ Campaign,” which aimed to get the CW to switch from a half-hour sitcom format, to an hour-long dramedy. The campaign’s goal was ambitious, asking one million fans to flood the CW’s website and leave notes of support. Many critics counted “The Game” out, believing the show was dead in the water, but the fans had other ideas. Instead of turning their backs on the show, fans, and in particular Black women, showed up and showed massive support for it. Avid viewers of the show blew up the CW’s website, started their own campaigns, and used the power of Facebook to show their massive support for the show, all 3.5 million of them.
Watching “The Game’s” triumphant return to television (7.7 million viewers tuned in last week) all due to fan support made me think about how powerful Black women can be when we act as a collective and work together to make things happen.
Other than the women of Spelman College standing up against Nelly’s portrayal of women in his now infamous “Tip Drill” video which sparked Essence Magazine’s “Take Back the Music” campaign, and the election of President Obama, I’m hard pressed to name another movement in the last few years that has harnessed the power of Black women to get something done.
Sure we marched, fought, and died along side brothas and demanded equal rights as human beings during the civil rights movement, and we joined sisters of all nationalities as we struggled to be seen as equal to men, but to paraphrase Janet Jackson, what have we done lately?
When was the last time we stood, together, not just to voice our opinion (which, by looking at any popular website we are SO good at), but also to create and implement solutions? We can yell all day, every day about hip-hop’s or (some) Black men’s or____________________(insert XYZ perpetrator’s) jabs for Black women, but until we come together as a collective, we are wasting our time.
On the day “The Game” reemerged on TV, writer and editor Michaela angela Davis took to Facebook to celebrate its return, and offer a challenge.
“Today is a notable day in black media, television & the power of public opinion. As a result of massive positive fan feedback (3m FB fans) BET has resurrected The Game, airing tonight along with another original scripted show Let’s Stay Together. Not all Image Activism is anti, we can be pro-activists too. Let the powers that be know what you Love.”
TV execs now know we love “The Game” because we told them so, imagine what mountains we could move and what positive changes we can make if we just reach out and grab it.
2011 has just begun, and along with one of the many things we’re so off, we are totally done complaining without an action plan. If we take away anything from the successful return of “The Game” it is that we have a powerful collective voice, and we can make things happen if we band together and set a plan in motion.
So the next time you feel the need to complain about misogynistic lyrics or degrading images, or even wondering aloud about why artists who are giving us what we want aren’t poppin’ like fish grease, call your friends so they can call their friends, and we can do this. Together.