ⓘ The Game (American TV series)
The Game is an American comedy-drama television series created by Mara Brock Akil. Premiering on October 1, 2006, the series debuted as the only new comedy series chosen for The CWs primetime schedule. Along with Runaway, it was one of only two series on the new network not to be inherited from either of its predecessor networks, The WB and UPN, during the networks first season. The series is a spin-off of the long-running UPN/CW sitcom Girlfriends.
After three seasons, the series was canceled by The CW in May 2009. BET struck a deal with The Game s parent company CBS to develop new episodes of the series, relocating taping of the show from Los Angeles to Atlanta, and announcing its renewal at the April 2010 upfronts. The Game returned to the air for a fourth season on January 11, 2011, and brought a record breaking 7.7 million viewers for the season premiere which made it the most watched sitcom premiere in cable television history.
On April 24, 2014, BET announced the eighth season renewal of The Game. On October 6, 2014, BET announced the show that had also been renewed for a ninth and final season. The eighth season premiered on January 14, 2015, at 10/9c, and the final season premiered on June 3, 2015, and ended on August 5, 2015.
With the growing success of the UPN sitcom Girlfriends, that shows creator and producers decided to create a spin-off series. On April 17, 2006, a Girlfriends episode called The Game focused on a young woman who decides to put her pending career plans on hold for the rising success of her star athlete boyfriend. The character, Melanie Barnett, was introduced in the episode as the first cousin of Joan Clayton, Girlfriends principal character.
The episode performed well and gained enough interest for The CW network to pick up The Game as a new series for its fall 2006–2007 prime time line-up. Originally, actress Renee Bruce was cast for the role of Melanie but was later replaced with Tia Mowry. Before debuting on The CW, more cast changes occurred. Aldis Hodge and Jennifer Baxter, both of whom appeared in the pilot episode, were replaced by Pooch Hall and Brittany Daniel respectively. Coby Bell, Hosea Chanchez and Wendy Raquel Robinson were the remaining cast members.
As the series premieres, Melanie Barnett Tia Mowry is a first-year medical school student who has given up an offer of admission to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore to follow her boyfriend Derwin Davis Pooch Hall, a professional football player, to San Diego, against the advice of her parents. Derwin Davis is a first-year rookie with a fictional team called the "San Diego Sabers". As Melanie settles into her new life, she meets Tasha Mack Wendy Raquel Robinson, the mother of Sabers starting quarterback Malik Wright Hosea Chanchez, and Kelly Pitts Brittany Daniel, the then wife of Sabers captain Jason Pitts Coby Bell. As she learns to balance her new roles as both med student and the partner of a professional football player, Tasha and Kelly immediately warn her to keep a close eye on her boyfriend because of the numerous "gold diggers" who approach the professional football players. Over time the relationships evolves with the players and the significant others, leading to the series to more focus on their relationships and less on the sport.
3.1. Cast Main cast
- Brandy as Chardonnay Pitts seasons 6–9; recurring season 5 – Chardonnay is the ex-wife of Jason Pitts. She and Jason meet when he goes to the bar where she bartends. She refuses to serve Jason, who tells her boss and gets her fired. Feeling bad after he got her fired, Jason takes her on a date. They wind up in Tijuana. Jason gets drunk and Chardonnay tricks him into marrying her to see if he really loves black women. They return to San Diego and decide to get their marriage annulled. In the season 5 finale Chardonnay and Jason decide not to go through with the annulment and stay married. Though they have their ups and downs, everything seems fine between the two until Kelly shows up in season 7. Kelly pays off Ty Savage Jasons former teammate to stop him from revealing Jasons steroid use. This upsets Chardonnay to the point that she kicks Jason out of the house. She lets him back in and despite his reveal that he kissed Kelly after visiting her in a hotel, they still plan to get married. But in the season 7 finale, Jason doesnt go through with the wedding, revealing hes still in love with Kelly. Chardonnay slaps Jason and storms off, beside herself. At the beginning of season 8 she goes back to Fresno, saying to Tasha there is nothing left but bad memories in San Diego.
- Pooch Hall as Derwin Davis seasons 1–5; guest season 6 and 9 - Derwin Davis is a wide receiver for the San Diego Sabers and husband of Melanie Barnett. In the season one finale, Derwin has an affair with Drew Sidora, and Melanie breaks off the relationship. In the beginning of season 2, after desperately trying to get her back, Derwin acts out against Melanie for a bit until she saves him from a gold digger who tried to "trap" him by getting her pregnant. Derwin and Melanie became cordial for a minute as they both went about their own way & were seeing other people, but a run-in at a grocery store and later at Derwins apartment on the day of the Super Bowl stirred up their old feelings of love again, as the 2 passionately kiss upon sight the second time. The off field drama didnt affect Derwins play on the field though, as he became a rising star for the Sabers until he suffered a bad knee injury in a playoff game. In the season two finale, he finds out his ex-girlfriend Janay is pregnant with his baby, and he and Melanie get back together. Derwin ran into some on the field issues due to his injury, the Sabers considered cutting him for a little while and off the field issues throughout season 3. In the season three finale, Derwins son is born and he finally marries Melanie in a private ceremony. In the fourth-season premiere, there are still some questions regarding the true paternity of Derwins son. Derwin also emerges as a superstar player in season 4, getting numerous endorsement deals, including Nike, and becoming the new face of the Sabers organization. In May 2012, it was announced that Hall would not return to The Game for the sixth season; however in August 2012 it was announced that he would be returning, but Hall would only appear in one episode. In season 6, Derwin was traded to Baltimore in exchange for Blue and he is the enemies of Bryce "Blue" Westbrook, who was chosen by Baltimore as the Number 1 Draft Pick. This allowed Derwin to be with Melanie, who is in Baltimore doing her Residency. The trade, however, was not planned by Derwin, but executed by the team owner because Derwin was responsible for the injury of former teammate and quarterback Kwan Kirkland. In the series finale, Derwin made an appearance with a pregnant Melanie as the episode closes its shown that theyve had a baby boy & girl. He did not appear in Season 7 and Season 8.
- Coby Bell as Jason Pitts seasons 1-3, 6-9; recurring seasons 4-5 – Jason Pitts is the San Diego Sabers former team captain and superstar wide receiver, later its head coach. He is the husband of Kelly Pitts, although they divorced in season 3. Jason and Kelly have one child, Brittany Pitts. In season 2, realizing that his skills were visibly diminishing, Jason starts using steroids to boost his performance. The Sabers win the championship that year. But once Kelly finds out about his steroid use it puts a strain on their relationship, leading to their divorce in season 3. Jason had a girlfriend briefly in season 3 guest star Stacey Dash; however, he is single at the beginning of season 4. Jason is officially cut from the Sabers in season 4, and he becomes a correspondent on Benched, a sports news television series hosted by former NBA basketball player Chris Webber. In season 5, he is a correspondent on his own show, The Pitts Stop, and is in a romantic relationship with girlfriend-wife Chardonnay portrayed by Brandy Norwood. In season 6, Jason makes an attempt at a comeback but suffered a concussion, affecting his playing ability among other things as well. He retires for good at the beginning of season 7. In season 7 Kelly returns and attends the wedding of Chardonnay and Jason at Chardonnays request. Jason does not marry Chardonnay, admitting he is still in love with Kelly. In season 8 Jason courts Kelly again despite her initial reluctance and is also named interim head coach of the Sabers. He and Kelly remarry in season 9.
- Hosea Chanchez as Malik Wright – Malik Wright is the San Diego Sabers superstar quarterback and the son of Tasha Mack. Arrogant and cocky, Malik initially begins the series as an immature womanizer. He falls in love with actress Robin Givens and convinces her to marry him as a publicity stunt. In the beginning, he lived with his mom but eventually gets his own place for the purpose of being able to party every night. He also fired his mom in season 2. In the season 3, he finally meets his father and his half sister, Pucci, whom he tries to help with her singing career. In season 4, Malik is still a cocky, spoiled playboy who is sleeping with the wife of the Sabers new owner guest star Meagan Good. Malik gets incarcerated for assaulting a cop and DUI, and goes to rehab to solve his newfound problems. In rehab, he falls for a troubled supermodel Jenna Rice Tika Sumpter. In season 5, Malik has financial issues and is forced to sell his multimillion-dollar mansion and his cars. The season 5 finale, Malik ends his relationship with Jenna. He seemed to be getting his life together, but then had converted back to his old ways. During the season 6 finale, after Malik lands in the hospital from being beat up by a group of men, he learns he wont have full use of his football arm anymore. In season 7, Malik goes through physical therapy in hopes of getting back into football and falls for his previously lesbian physical therapist Yanna. In the season 7 finale Malik ends his relationship with Yanna. In season 8 Malik rejoins the Sabers, but loses his position as team captain to Blue. In the season 8 finale he and Keira admit their feelings about each other after being best friends for a long time. In the beginning of season 9 Malik and Keira are in a relationship as he and Blue began feuding, and he becomes the laughing stock of the team. Then, in the next to last episode, Malik breaks up with Keira after realizing he wasnt truly in love with her the way he was with Yanna.Malik determined this after realizing he wasnt crying after having sex with Keira like he did with Yanna, something he had never felt before then. Keira responds by slapping him. In the series finale Malik leads the team to the playoffs, he proposes to Keira who declines, he had plans to retire, but he continues to play, winning another championship with the Sabers.
- Jay Ellis as Bryce "Blueprint" Westbrook seasons 6–9 – San Diego Sabers wide receiver and the first overall draft pick from Stanford who is highly educated and often the smartest person in the room. Even though he is bright and talented, he is still a young man who has a lot to learn about life, love and himself. Blue is one of the new characters that was introduced in season 6. His character replaces Derwin Davis as a main character. Blue was traded from Baltimore to San Diego in exchange for Derwin. The two men confront each other at a post-draft party and brawl. That same night he pursues Keira for the first time. They start an on-again, off-again type of relationship throughout the series. Though Blue had his moments where he attempts to act out against Keira when the two werent together by using women to make her jealous, he obviously still loves Keira. In season 7 Jason chastises Blue for not being focused due to his off the field distractions. Blue takes initiative and eventually becomes team captain in season 8. In season 9 he led a protest against Saber management that cost him a couple of games, though the Sabers would eventually win the championship in the series finale.
- Tia Mowry-Hardrict seasons 1−5; guest season 9 as Dr. Melanie Barnett-Davis, M.D. - Melanie Barnett-Davis is the shows main protagonist. In season one, Melanie is a medical student who gave up the chance to attend Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to move to San Diego with her boyfriend Derwin Davis while attending a less prestigious medical school in the area. Melanie is the cousin of Los Angeles attorney-turned-restaurateur Joan Clayton of Girlfriends. In season one, Melanie and Derwin break up due to Derwins infidelity with singer Drew Sidora, which starts a series of ups-and-downs between the two. In the season three finale, Melanie finally marries Derwin during a private ceremony, after the public ceremony was interrupted by the birth of Derwins son by his ex-girlfriend Janay. In season five, after confessing that she felt empty being just a housewife despite their wealth and Derwins success, she decides to pursue her medical career and begin a residency program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Derwin was against it at first but eventually came around. In May 2012 Mowry announced via her Twitter account that she would not be returning to The Game in season six. In the series finale, Melanie made an appearance in where she was pregnant with her & Derwins twin babies and as the episode closes its shown that she has had a boy and girl. She did not appear in Season 6, Season 7 and Season 8.
- Lauren London as Keira Michelle Whitaker seasons 6–9 – a former child star who starred in a fictional Cosby-esque sitcom called Stuck Together. She is struggling to make the transition from child star to adult. Keira is one of the new characters introduced in season 6. Her character does not replace Melanie, but is a new character added into the script. Her love interest is "Bryce Blue Westbrook". The two meet at a party where they hook up. After being shut down by Keira, Blue hooks up with Keiras friend, singer Ciara, making Keira jealous. Blue and Keira try to ignore and anger each other at first, then become cordial, then fall for each other. After Keira loses her virginity to Blue however, they break up due to Blues insensitivity. They still have feelings for each other even while Keira briefly dates an actor named Luke, with whom she has a rather raunchy sex scene in her movie Baggers, that she didnt want Blue to see at the premiere. He sees it from the back. They break up again. After more ups and downs in season 7, they elope in that seasons finale after Blue proposes, skipping Jason and Chardonnays wedding. In season 8, after being told by several people that she needs to dedicate herself to her craft, she kisses Malik at an audition after being made to by the acting coach,leading to deeper feelings between the two, who were just best friends before. Blue catches on & breaks off the engagement in season 9 after a huge fight between him and Malik in an elevator. Keira ends up with Malik, at the disapproval of Tasha. In the series finale, after Malik breaks up with Keira, she sleeps with Blue once more, refuses Maliks proposal & she decides to focus on her career. She gets her breakout role.
- Brittany Daniel as Kelly Pitts seasons 1–3, 8–9; recurring seasons 4, 7) – Kelly Pitts is the wife of Jason Pitts, mother of Brittany Pitts, and former President of the Sunbeams. After their relationship gradually becomes more and more strained in season 2, Kelly and Jason divorce at the beginning of season three. At the start of season 4, it is revealed that Kelly is now a reality TV star, with her own show centered around the ex-wives of professional athletes. Her character was bumped down to recurring in season 4, and her character was effectively written out of the show in season 4 after she stated to Jason that she needed to head back home to her parents to find herself again. Daniel had made no further appearances in the series after that season. But in season 6, Kelly is heavily mentioned by the remaining characters especially Tasha. After being referred to a therapist by Kelly, Tasha reveals that Kelly has since moved to Paris. She made her return in season 7. She comes to Chardonnay and Jasons wedding where Jason reveals he still loves her, ending the wedding. She and Jason get remarried in season 9.
- Wendy Raquel Robinson as Tasha Mack is the brash, bold, & flamboyant mother of Malik Wright and begins the series as his manager. Malik, giving his mother an ultimatum at one point, eventually fires Tasha. It is then that Tasha builds her own management company, Tasha Mack Management. She dissolves the company, however, to join Irv Smiff Management ISM. In season three, she falls in love with former NBA player Rick Fox, who also works for ISM. Tasha ends up getting fired from ISM, and dumps Rick in the aftermath, assuming that he knew all about Irv Smiths plans to fire her. In the season three finale, Kelly Pitts and Tasha have a falling-out when Kelly discovers that Tasha set her then ex-husband, Jason Pitts, with his then new girlfriend, Camille. The altercation soon turns physical, with Kelly punching Tasha. Season four started with Tasha as Derwins agent. She had also begun dating a much younger man named Donte played by former 106 & Park host Terrence J. In season 5, Tasha decided to be celibate after a brief romance with a male escort Carl Anthony Payne. She eventually falls for her longtime friend Pookie Rockmond Dunbar. In the Season 5 finale, her ex-boyfriend Rick Fox returns. In season 6, she appoints herself Sunbeams president due to Jaz arguing with everybody with Tasha and Keira and Chardonnay. At the end of season 7, after breaking up with Pookie upon Pookie finding out about her affairs with Rick and later with Rick, she becomes pregnant & delivers a baby girl by Pookie. In the series finale, after revealing the feelings they still had for each other Tasha & Pookie decided to be together & happily moved into their own house with their baby daughter.
3.2. Cast Recurring cast
- Danielle Nicolet as Yana - A physical therapist who agrees to help Malik recuperate from his injured arm. Season 7-9
- Tika Sumpter as Jenna Rice - Super Model; Malik met Jenna in Rehab; later Maliks love interest. Seasons 4-5
- Jigga as Bibs - Maliks bodyguard. Seasons 4-9
- Miranda Rae Mayo as Patreece Sheibani Season 6
- Carissa Capobianco as Nina - Maliks girlfriend; friend of Keira. Seasons 6-7
- Gabrielle Dennis as Janay Brice - Derwins ex-girlfriend and mother of his son. In season 5, it was revealed that she is engaged to a man named Noah and decided to take her son DJ and move to New York with her fiance. Seasons 2-5
- Terrence Jenkins as Donte - the younger ex-boyfriend of Tasha. Season 4
- Drew Sidora as herself - singer; Derwins brief love interest. Seasons 1-2
- P. J. Byrne as Irv Smiff - Owner of Irv Smiff Management ISM. Seasons 1-3, 5, 9
- Erica Gluck Seasons 1-3 / Katlynn Simone Seasons 4-9 as Brittany Pitts - daughter of Jason and Kelly Pitts.
- Kendra C. Johnson as Renee Royce - TV personality and one of Maliks love interests. Seasons 1-2
- LaMonica Garrett as Luke Rogers Season 6
- Shanti Lowry as Dionne Marie Taylor - Derwins former publicist and Melanies previous roommate. Seasons 1-3, 8
- Tae Heckard as Jasmine "Jazz" - the former Sunbeams President and Wife of San Diego Sabers Running Back Juvon Seasons 2-6, 8-9
- Michael Boatman as Lawrence Chauncey Wright - Maliks father. Season 3
- Chaz Lamar Shepherd as Trey Wiggs - Melanies college friend and father of Melanies aborted baby. Seasons 1-2, 5
- Caryn Ward as Erica Harrison Seasons 1-4, 8
- Tahj Mowry as Cameron Barnett - Melanies brother. Season 1, 3
- Jason Olive as McHottie - Melanies love interest in medical school. Season 3, 5
- Barry Floyd as Terrence "Tee-Tee" Carter seasons 1-9 - Maliks childhood friend, former assistant, and owner of Tee Tees Cluck Truck.
- Janet Varney as Summer Grayson - co-host of The Pitts Stop. Season 5
- Bumper Robinson as Juvon Glenn - San Diego Sabers Running Back and husband of Jazz. Seasons 1, 3-6, 8-9
- Andra Fuller as Roger Keith, Jr. - The son of Sabers owner Roger Keith. Seasons 9
- Meagan Good as Parker Keith - The wife of Roger Keith; had an affair with Malik. Season 4
- Michael Beach as Roger Keith - Owner of San Diego Sabers. Seasons 4-6, 8-9
- Stacey Dash as Camille Rose - Jasons ex-girlfriend. Seasons 3-4
- Candice Patton as Tori - Maliks personal assistant. Seasons 6-7
- Rockmond Dunbar as Pookie - Ex-con; Tashas old friend and eventual love interest. He is the father of Tashas newborn baby. It is revealed his real name is Marion. Seasons 3, 5-9
- Lisa Tucker as Pucci Wright - Maliks half-sister. Season 3
- Mehcad Brooks as Jerome - Melanies ex-boyfriend. Seasons 2-3
- Rocky Carroll as Kenny "Coach T" Taylor - offensive coordinator of the San Diego Sabers; Tashas brief love interest. Seasons 1-2
- Claudette Roche as Grace Barnett - Melanies mother. Seasons 1, 3-4
- Chris Webber as himself - former NBA basketball player; Jasons co-host on the sports news television series Benched. Season 4
- Robin Givens as herself - actress; Maliks ex-wife. Seasons 2-3
- Hayley Marie Norman as Bianca Season 6
- Gregory Alan Williams as Dr. James Barnett - Melanies father. Seasons 1, 3-4
- Rick Fox as himself - former NBA basketball player; Tashas co-worker and eventual love interest. Seasons 2-3, 5-6, 9
- Isley Anderson as D.J. - Derwin and Janays son Seasons 4-5, 9
- Charles Michael Davis as Kwan Kirkland - the San Diego Sabers former quarterback. Seasons 4-5
- Ciara as Herself - singer; friend of Keira; she hooked up with Blue. Season 6
- Lee Majors as Coach Ross - coach of the San Diego Sabers. Seasons 2-3
4. U.S. ratings
Seasonal ratings based on average total viewers per episode of The Game on The CW. When The Game transferred from the CW to BET, it acquired 7.7 million viewers, which was a record for a scripted premiere on BET.
In September 2006, writer Staci Robinson filed a $40 million lawsuit against the CW, CBS, Warner Bros., and Grammnet Productions for copyright infringement. Robinson claimed that she had applied for a job as writers assistant in 2005 with series creator and executive producer Mara Brock Akil, to whom Robinson had subsequently sent her novel, Interceptions. The novel is about a woman who decides to put her goal of becoming a lawyer on hold to follow her boyfriend as he pursues a career as a professional football player. After receiving the novel, Robinson was interviewed for the job but later declined the position. Robinson alleged that Akil and a CW screenwriter stole the idea from her novel to create the series. The suit was settled out of court under a non-disclosure agreement in September 2007.
BET aired the fourth season on January 11, 2011. The premiere drew 7.7 million viewers, making it the biggest ad-supported sitcom telecast in the history of cable. Chanchez officially announced at the 2011 BET Awards that the show would begin its fifth season in 2012. The fifth season premiered on January 10, 2012. Tia Mowry-Hardrict announced via Twitter that she would not be returning to the series. In May 2012, actor Pooch Hall announced that he will not be returning for the sixth season; In August 2012, actor Pooch Hall announced that he will be returning for the 100th episode of the 6th season, but hes back as a guest star, He will be appear in one episode. It was also confirmed that actress Lauren London and actor Jay Ellis had joined the cast as series regulars for the shows sixth season, which premiered on March 26, 2013.
In April 2013, it was announced that The Game has been renewed for a seventh season. The seventh season premiered on March 4, 2014. In April 2014, BET renewed the series for an eighth season, which premiered on January 14, 2015. In October 2014, BET said that the series would end in 2015. The series leads Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Pooch Hall will be returning for the series finale. The final season premiered on June 3, 2015 and the series finale premiered on August 5, 2015.
6. Sequel series
In December 2019, it was announced that an hour-long sequel series was in the works at The CW. The new incarnation, written by original series creator Mara Brock Akil and Devon Greggory, will have a new East Coast setting while allowing original cast members to return. Akil and Greggory, the latter set to serve as showrunner, will also executive produce the follow-up series with Akils fellow original executive producers, Salim Akil and Kelsey Grammer, as well as Tom Russo. Grammer and Russos Grammnet NH Productions and CBS Television Studios, which were behind the original series, will produce the sequel series.