Since its resurrection on BET last year, many people have expressed disappointment in The Game’s newfound direction. Although the writers, producers, and cast remained virtually intact following its return from cancellation, the obvious changes in the show have left some people wondering what went wrong. While watching Melanie attempt to assert her role as CEO of the Davis Family and Company, I found myself wondering “What ever happened to “Med School?” Of course, viewers know that Melanie ultimately decided not to practice medicine in order to help Derwin further his career, but my question did not relate as much to her choice in occupation, as much as it reflected a longing for the girl who had her own dreams, the girl who prided herself so much on having her own life and values outside of the football world that Tasha Mack felt the need to christen her with a nickname that was representative of her ambitions.

Med School would not have spent her time trying to prove her toughness, or even worse, her “blackness” to Tasha Mack or sports executives. More importantly than that, Med School was a friend to Kelly Pitts and was like a younger sister or daughter to Tasha Mack. Kelly, Tasha, and Med School partied, exchanged advice, laughed with, cried with, and supported one another through the ups-and-downs of life as the women behind the men in the NFL. Malik, Jason—minus his latest overly stereotypical exploration into his “blackness” and aversion towards black women–and Derwin are hilarious and nice to look at, but I believe that the disintegration of the female identity and the bond between the female characters on the show is contributing to a decline in the quality of its stories.

While I’ve always had a problem with the way that Melanie’s life seemingly unraveled after her initial break up with Derwin, her reaction was relatable, believable, and it served as a cautionary tale for women and young girls not to simply follow a man anywhere without a ring or a plan to provide for herself so that she did not have to be entirely dependent on him, financially and emotionally.  Yet, Mrs. Dr. Melanie Barnett-Davis seems even less secure than “Girl Melanie” gone wild after Derwin cheated. Always plagued by the fact that she was not the mother of his child, she now finds that she cannot have a child of her own because she had an abortion—a link that is not medically solid–so that Derwin might still entertain the possibility of taking her back, all so that she could ultimately watch him raise his child with another woman? She’s making pregnancy decisions based on reconciliation hopes? Seriously? With no baby (Tre Wiggs or Derwin), no career, no financial independence or security, no input in the life of his child or his business, and undoubtedly a rapidly eroding self-esteem as the butt of endless non-doctor jokes and a reputation as the bougie drama queen, exactly how many sacrifices is one woman supposed to make before she becomes nothing more than a fake, fragile shell of a Sunbeam President?

Unfortunately, Melanie cannot even seek the advice of the former Sunbeam President who knows what it is like to sacrifice herself because the character of Kelly Pitts has been MIA—and I’m not even counting her stint as an “ex-baller’s wife” because I don’t know who that was, do you? Even when Kelly was an unappreciated cheerleader during her marriage to Jason, she was never as needy and desperately in search of attention as she was in those few episodes in Season 4. As Melanie moves into the role that Kelly Pitts previously inhabited, the show is missing out on a golden opportunity to show women helping each other through the changing of the guards. Even if Kelly Pitts wanted to wallow in her divorced misery, she could have done so a little more realistically, and perhaps, with the help of Melanie, who again, knows what it is like to lose yourself after a break up. Instead, the show chose to depict an even more extreme example of a woman who comes undone after her relationship ends.

Of course, no one is a better expert on ending relationships than Tasha Mack. The rifts in her relationships with both Melanie and Kelly Pitts have taken her from the keeping-it-real motherly role to a childish, petty stereotype of an angry black woman who gets schooled by men decades younger than her. I actually enjoy when people force Tasha to think about her ways, but she also used to be more than a dispensary for cliché “ghetto girl” antics and wise cracks. She was a candid source of wisdom for both Melanie and Kelly, and they forced her to evaluate herself just as much as a twenty-something year old explaining her “emasculatory” tendencies.

Changes in these characters and in their relationships with one another were both inevitable and necessary if the show was to continue, but their essences needed to remain the same. Even if the female characters have to temporarily be at odds with one another or in periods of personal crisis, those moments should still be written in a way that acknowledges the importance of their dignity and friendship. As a show that has always been about families, not football, the portrayal of the females who serve as the backbones of those families is especially important. If I wanted to watch desperate females at one another’s throats, I would turn on Basketball Wives. The Game only goes as far as the Sunbeam sisterhood.

  • Freebee33

    You hit the nail on the head with this article, sisterhood is what seems to be missing from ‘The Game’. I watched last season, but for some reason I just can’t this time around, it really fell off. I miss Girlfriends..

  • jamesfrmphilly

    co sign….

  • jamesfrmphilly

    just a bunch of black people at each others throats. i can’t watch it.

  • gmarie

    I have to agree. Last season wasn’t so bad to me but this season has definitely changed many of the main characters for the worst! Melanie needs a hobby (that doesnt include the sunbeams or anything related to the football team) If she want’s to be a “baller’s wife” fine, but start up an outside charity organization or SOMETHING. She has no career, no children to care for, and only a piece of backbone left. I need her character to be a little more substantive than it is now-and less victim like.

    On to Tasha mack, I am not a fan of this beef she has with Melanie at all. I too miss the “sisterhood” and friendship this show once celebrated for women. Tasha was always snarky but this season she’s down right NASTY! I don’t recall that being her style. No way that insult to Melanie about not being able to have children should have made it onto the show. Mean spirited and evil.

    Jason Pitts, I never had an inkling in the past seasons that he had a problem with black women or his blackness in general. He married ONE white woman, and when they separated he dated nothing but black women..I’m very confused. Lazy writing and creativity with his storyline this year.

  • AJ

    Good post!
    I stopped watching for this reason, it became sad to look at

  • HoneyDew

    You said EVERYTHING I have been thinking!!! This is EXACTLY what the show is missing!!! I have been hoping that all this drama with Melanie basically giving up her life for Derwin all comes down to a serious life realization for her and that she decides to do her residency after all, not for her parents, or status but because that is what she really wants to do with her life. I really hope the writers and producers of the show read this article!!!!!

  • HoneyDew

    I agree. The remark about Melanie not being able to conceive was low down. It made me hate Tasha Mack. I also hate this storyline they have going on that Melanie can’t have children because she had an abortion. It feels like some sort of underlying anti-choice propaganda. But like I said earlier, maybe this is all a set up for Melanie’s character end up doing her residency after all. Maybe her character will end up pregnant during the third year of her residency and we get to watch her balance being a Dr, Derwins wife, being a new mother and possibly feeling alone since Derwin has already gone through this with Jaynay and DJ. Maybe we can see her find herself, her strength and her independence in future episodes. Now that would be nice!!

  • HoneyDew

    Another thing, I also miss the budding friendship between Melanie and Dion. What happened to that character and that relationship. I wish they would bring both back to the show.

  • NYPowRGirl

    Great post. You said everything I’ve been thinking about The Game since last season. I’m beyond disappointed with the caricature that is Tasha Mack. And that “blackness” storyline with Jason Pitts is reaching.

  • Leelee

    I kind of feel like Jason’s foray into black women is forced and corny. I feel like the writers and producers wrote this into the story line because they think this is what black women want to see. It just doesn’t seem natural. I’ve also sort of felt like everything these days seems to be Melanie’s fault, like every other episode is Melanie messing up and Derwin struggling to get over it. There doesn’t seem to be a balance anymore. It’s not as cohesive as it used to be either. Instead of several overlapping story lines for each of the couples. They’re all separate.

  • nestafan2

    This article is so on point. I kept wondering what was missing: is it the set, the script, the so-called evolution of the characters? But after reading this, I know exactly what’s missing.

  • Freebee33

    “I feel like the writers and producers wrote this into the story line because they think this is what black women want to see.” Exactly!

  • Erica B.

    They are writing for their demographic: the viewers of “Basketball Wives”, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Love and Hip Hop”. “The Game” is just the scripted version of these reality shows. Hell, Nene Leakes even guest starred as herself! I’m surprised no one on “The Game” has had a drink flung in her face. If they make it through the season without a physical altercation between two of the characters, I’d be surprised.

  • FaSho

    I really don’t like the direction of the show. It seems a bit soap operaish, throwing a million story lines together. There are so many ways they can show betrayal anger and confusion than the way they are doing it now. They really need to develop a storyline for each character and weave them seamlessly together as oppose to having 4 shows in one.
    Let’s Stay Together is produced 10 times better. The plot and scripts may not be all that well but they know how to let it flow and develop

  • Tiffany

    This is exactly what I have been feeling about The Game since it came back and why I just can’t bring myself to care/watch it anymore.

  • Sindy

    As a native Cali resident, they got the Jason Pitts thing all wrong. Cali, North and South are pretty much the place of interracial relationships. And that’s been happening almost forever. Unlike parts of the South and maybe other places, no one cares of you’re damn near white but you date someone that is ‘blurple’. Yeah, you get an occasional person that has identity issues or gets really burned up about mixed-race couples. Circles of affluence (or close to it) are really known for this.

    Anyway, i know they film in ATL but they need to bring Dionne and Kelly back, also give Malik a brain really quick because he seems to get dumber w/every episode.

  • Tenia Griffin

    Melanie’s decision not to go to Medical school was way more realistic than her embracing her dreams to appease feminists who do not know the meaning of what a good wife does for the sake of her family. A wife’s job is not to have a career but to be a helpmate to her husband who leads the family and provides financially. Some black women need to put more effort into what’s important and learn to fight for stable and strong traditional family units.

  • ms_micia

    The author gets a round of applause for saying exactly what I was thinking (and have said on numerous blogs lol). Even though the actors are the same and the creator has stayed i.e Mari Brok Akil…the writers ARE different. You can almost hear the pitch meetings where its all shock value and “what will keep people talking”. It’s a very immature uneducated way to go about writing. It’s as if the show is being written by twenty year old boys. *eyeroll* There is no CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! NONE. It’s like one incoherent story line after another. Melanie is so insecure its not believable. A young woman presumably who got into John’s Hopkins, would not, COULD NOT possibly finish medical school only to quit her practice to be a stay at home…wife???? Derwin is a douche bag. They both are unlikable characters at this point. The person who was supposedly the unlikable character Jason Pitts is the only one character wise who’s shown any growth whatsoever, albeit a little forced at least its something. These people have less dimension than they did in the pilot.
    BET Game writers if your listening…or you watch blogs here’s how to pull the ratings from the pits they will fall eventually with crappy writing.
    Derwin: Find something ANYTHING to make him likable again. Get him to a church *since he’s this psuedo Christian anyway* Make him either like he was or a RAGING douche, not this middle of the road “assume that I’m the same but I’m actually not” crap.
    Malik: He needs a comeback. Get’em a reality show T.O style. He needs to get some kind of business that has nothing to do with football. Find a good woman, someone outside of his mama who challenges him. Maybe cross fingers for a wedding.
    Tasha: She needs a reality check. Stop giving her free reign to be negative without repercussions. She needs a come to Jesus moment and a REAL breakdown where she gets to the root of her anger. Good drama, real issues. Wendy Raquel Welch is a good enough actress give her the opportunity to show you she can do it.
    Kelly: Just get her back on the show. She and Jason have unfinished business.
    And last but not least
    Melanie, Girl Melanie, MedSchool: SHE NEEDS TO GO BACK TO WORK! PRONTO. She needs to give up the whole lets have a baby thing. She needs a rift between her and Derwin that is based on some level of real. That’s drama I will watch. They don’t even seem right for one another anymore. Divorce drama? I’ll watch that too.

    Just develop the characters more. This is my plea as someone who wants it to be great. Just TRY…PLEASE! LOL

  • ms_micia

    right! Whatever happened to Dion??? she just dissapeared??? But she DID sleep with her man sooo… I wouldn’t keep her as a friend either.

  • ms_micia

    ok first the Melanie character DID finish medical school, graduated after getting side tracked by said relationship and then decided not to practice. second I could get with her being “down for her family” if you could really call it that. Derwin’s character clearly doesn’t respect her or she wouldn’t have to demand that he include her in his decision making. Women who ultimately support their family life instead of a career are normally supported by a husband emotionally. It’s just not true to the character they developed to fight all this time for her career to just give it up without a fight. It’s not realistic. He has an outside child who doesn’t live with him and she and the mother have no relationship. If it was like an “All of Us” situation where the child and the family dynamic was explored I would be more inclined to believe you. But it’s just flat. There is no real story lines anymore just drama. All in all it’s not good. Period

  • HoneyDew

    YES to everything you just said!!!!!! Especially Melanie!!!! I come from a family of doctors and I have a lot of friends who are doctors and you are right, it is not realistic that a woman who basically fought her way through medical school (she just had so many ups and downs dealing with Derwin and his drama) would not do her residency!!!!

  • MsWilliamsWorld

    APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE!!!!!!!!!!! You have said everything I’ve been trying to say but just haven’t said!

  • Mrs. D

    @ms_micia Yup, yup!! Lol yes, character development is key. It’s as if as soon as the show was picked by BET all the characters became stagnant or worse, just plain old regressed. Except for the “forced growth” of Jason, but what happened to last season, when he was suppose to have quit his job in order to focus on his wayward daughter?? Now he’s having an identity crisis this season?? The plot of the show just isn’t flowing at all since it came back. it’s just weird, honestly.

  • Zuri B.

    That was very eloquent.

  • Kimberley

    The Game is horrible. This new direction is for the birds. Tasha Mack is so over the top & hood acting. Is Mara Brock-Akil still involved with this show? If so, what is going on with her?

  • Afia

    I just can’t watch anymore. It’s shame that when I show is picked up by a black network it falters. Well falters is a woeful understatement but I’m trying to be nice here.

    I never liked Melanie but I could keep watching the show because how she dealt with things seemed so realistic that I couldn’t help but sympathize and empathize. But the turn her character has taken is unwarranted and annoying.

    Yes, there is yearning for black characters but I won’t be grateful for any ole thing that gets thrown my way. *cough* Tyler Perry *cough* It seems like the only way we can find stories with good black characters is to write the ourselves or invest in web based productions because television is highly disappointing.

  • Honey B.

    It is BEYOND SAD to see what the game has come to. I used to make it my DUTY to catch all new episodes of The Game. Now it just seems to be one stereotype after another. No depth in any of the characters anymore….. At all. This article makes me happy to know that I am not the only one who notices that THE Game isn’t what it used to be!!! Being that it is one of the last black scripted shows that was actually a joy to watch, makes it even more sad to see the route that the writers have taken. I hope and pray that the behind the scenes are taking heed to all the black lash…. somethings gotta give!

  • Modupe Florence Okpeku

    I totally agree!!!!!!! What happened to them? It seems as though someone told them to gloss the show into something unBET. What I mean by that is that BET, like Essence, struggles to maintain integrity, as soon as they were bought and sold at the auction.

  • Shannon

    Jason Pitts has had a problem with his blackness and black women since Season 1. For those of you who don’t understand, please go back and watch seasons 1-4.

    To Ms. Brittney Wilson, you couldn’t have said it better. As a true fan of The Game, I agree w/ all of your points. Well done.

  • bk chick

    I agree with alot of what has been said in this post, but another part of me thinks that blogging has enabled ppl to constantly give their opinions on something and the show hasn’t even reached its end yet.

    I get the feeling that Melanie will eventually end up doing her residency. Despite the desperate nature the writers have given her, when I watch I feel we are all being set up to see Mel snap and do what we all want her to do eventually. Also Kelly’s disappearance has more to do with real life factors than he direction the writer’s wanted to her character.

    I keep thinking that If I were twenty something and blogging were around when Family Matters was on I’d be shitting all over that show and many others like The Wayans Brothers, etc. Even if shows are good there are always the bad episodes or the ones that don’t make sense, but without blogging, you don’t get that instant gratification of offering your opinion about every single flaw. That being said I do think these shows need to be criticized and quality should be demanded, but sometimes I wonder if the critique is just a case of opinionated people (including myself) giving an opinion…for the sake of an opinion.

  • haffie

    I stopped watching that show a long time ago, i hated the way things were going…and i have no regrets…

  • TheBlackBelle

    Ms. Wilson,
    I cldn’t agree more! Me and my dad were JUST talking about how The Game is downplaying the importance of education. Although Mel did finish school, she basically threw( or is throwing) all of these valuable years of education away! She did not attend community college or trade school,(no shade), but med school!!! o_0. And blah blah blah to the lady who is commenting about “what a wife is and should do”. Define your own role, cuz clearly this one ain’t workin for my girl Mel. All that sacrifice on her part and the relationship STILL struggling? No maam!
    College+ Turnin down Johns Hopkins+ Relocating to new city without knowing a soul but ur “boyfriend” +Having Tasha and Kelly as new friends+ Entering med school + breakup+ getting back together+ finding out ur “man” has a baby on the way that ain’t by you + Marriage+ Losing your only 2 friends+ watching the man you love care and love a child that aint yours + you cant have a baby, a baby that you wanted only to feel closer to him, cuz if it was really about you, you would have chosen Johns Hopkins in the first place = DISASTER!
    MELANIE GET A DAMN CLUE AND A BACKBONE! Have a lil pride girl! Sorry about the rant, this really bothers me!

  • thinkpink

    She is not to my knowledge. I believe her husband took over her role. In my opinion this has a lot to do with the downfall of that show.

  • lala m.

    Great job with the article. I was saying the same thing all last season when it was just Melanie and Tasha talking and they tried to make Jazz into the sometimes third woman character. smh. I honestly missed the comraderie between the women. And I have to agree with the downfall of Melanie’s character. Although, I don’t get why she was all about med school and all of sudden dropped it to help Derwin further his career, but why not do your residency now that he is successful? And it seems like Derwin doesn’t care for Melanie anymore and its horrible to watch. Can we bring the love back to the show???
    Also, what are they doing to Tasha? In the first seasons, she was a little more classy. Now they have made her into this overly stereotypical ghetto character running around talking about where’s her weed and the hood this and the hood that. Before Tasha used to remind me of that cool aunt who would occassionally check you if you were disrespectful but now…it’s just sad.
    And don’t get me started on the guys on The Game. BET, you have got to do better.

  • modern lady

    The Game was never my favorite-if they were going to bring a show back from the ash heap, it should’ve been Girlfriends. Their characters could’ve gone in a lot more directions, story-wise.

  • Tami

    Well, I still love The Game…However, I do agree with portions of the article. There doesn’t appear to be any real sisterhood anymore. As far as Melanie character is concerned, I know women who have given up so much for love & I think the show is showing us the downfall of what happens when women give too much…Also, I feel that Melanie will return to school in due time. And though I love Tasha, she is acting a bit too ghetto….Jason…well…I like him…Seeing him with a Black chick is kinda interesting…Let’s see how the story unfolds.

  • Whatever

    @ Honeydew

    I sure hope someone on the writing team views your comment. That would save this dreadful Hood Soap Opera story line they have going.

  • Whatever

    I agree about “Let’s Stay Together”, I actually enjoyed that show much more than the game last season.

  • Whatever

    YES! and although Joan’s character on Girlfriends was sometimes too sappy and desperate, they truly tried to explore each character. I miss that show!

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