When I heard that Melanie (Tia Mowry Hardrict) and Derwin (Pooch Hall) were not returning to The Game next season I must admit that I drank the Kool-Aid and tuned back in to see how their complicated love story would end. I even saw most of the episodes I missed after taking a hiatus (during the four day, five season marathon on BET) this past weekend. Watching episodes from five years ago reminded me of why I was a fan of the show in the first place, and in some ways, the final episode of Season 5 offered a slight, albeit temporary, glimpse of the good ole’ days.
At first The Game (on The CW) was refreshing because it was comedic, focused on friendships, and offered nuances to the characters (i.e., us learning how/why they are the way they are—from Melanie’s bourgeiose family to Maalik’s fatherless son with mama issues translated to woman issues narrative). Unfortunately, when they returned, on BET, much of that was lost. I continued to watch because I was a loyal “fan” and I was committed, at first, to watch The Game until the bittersweet end.
Clearly I am not alone in my nostalgia. There is a facebook fan page, Save The Game, that is devoted to both remembering what made The Game work for the first three seasons (via “throwback Thursday images of The Game during its former glory,” and calling for corporate accountability for the new programming, via an open letter to writers and producers).
I won’t repeat things I have already said about the frailties of the show since its transition to BET, but I will say that one of the disappointments was the way that the writers handled the characters we had all come to love. It was as if they did not know what to do with the characters anymore, and instead of maturing them, they regressed into childish, selfish, shells of their former selves. It was hard to like them, let alone love them.
I can say, though, that over the course of the season, it seemed, that some of the characters softened. I must admit, while I was initially blackgirl offended at the introduction of Chardonnay as an over-the-top exaggeration of black ghetto fabulousness, she seemed, at the end of the season, to be less rough around the edges and more believable. Tasha Mack’s character, while wildly stereotypical, showed her soft/er and vulnerable side in the last episode, in what I believe to be one of the most remarkable and memorable scenes she has had. (What woman doesn’t want a lover who will “take care of her” when she is sick?)
Unfortunately, Tuesday night’s episode represented one high mark in two seasons worth of foolishness. There have been so many episodes, over the last two seasons, that left me hanging, so many storylines that were not thought through or properly executed, so many things that did not make sense, that one episode where the imprudence was minimal does not make up for it. I appreciate that we were given an ending that gave closure (in a TV series kind of way) for the characters, but it makes me wonder what is going to happen next? In what ways is next season going to take away the temporary “good feelings” I had after Tuesday’s finale?
In many ways the final episode of season 5 could have been the series finale, an end to the stories that help us know that everybody is going to be okay (just like the first, though abrupt, series finale). We get a glimpse of what tomorrow will bring for the characters that doesn’t feel jagged edged, that doesn’t feel impossible, or short-changed. Tasha finally finds “everything she always prayed for” (in Pooky). Jason finds his true blackgirl love. Maalik has his second chance with his first love (football), and resigns to being himself (the arrogant, cocky playboy we learned to love); Melanie and Derwin get their “thing” back, the spark we were introduced to on the first episode of the game, only this time instead of Melanie being expected to sacrifice her dreams for her man, Derwin sacrifices his for hers. She finally gets to come into her own, fulfill her own dreams and goals to be a doctor, without sacrificing her marriage or happiness to do it. She gets it “all”—at least in the moment when her (gorgeous) husband comes to the airport to go with her to D.C.
I don’t know what will happen next season, and I can’t say that I am anxious to see it or that I will even watch it. In many ways I feel like The Game has run its course. On The CW it was entertaining to watch, but if BET is overtime, I am over it, and even when you are a fan of your team, at some point you are just ready for The Game to be over. After several disappointing Tuesday nights, the final episode of season five is the one I want to remember it by—an episode that finally, it seems, brought everyone full circle, back to where we started.