When The Game premiered on Oct. 1, 2006, viewers were immediately drawn to the drama surrounding Derwin Davis (Pooch Hall) of the fictional football team, the San Diego Sabers, and his live-in girlfriend, Melanie Barnett (Tia Mowry-Hardrict) as she tried to balance medical school and life as a WAG.
The Girlfriends spinoff had three successful seasons on the CW until it was canceled in 2009 following the network’s desire for fewer sitcoms and more hour-long dramas. When the cancellation was announced, fans practically rioted on social media and fought for the show’s renewal. BET took notice and by Jan. 11, 2011, the series was back on the air.
Upon its return, the Season 4 premiere drew in 7.68 million viewers—the largest basic cable audience ever for an original comedy on a non-kids network. The Game ran for six more seasons before ultimately ending on Aug. 5, 2015.
This time around, fans felt more relieved than disappointed since the series made several drastic changes in look, feel, and storylines when it was taken over by BET. The ratings waivered, but the series finale was “cable’s No. 1 original program in all key female demos and ranked No. 2 (behind MTV’s Catfish) among all originals in adults 18–34,” according to Variety.
Yet, in a surprise turn of events, once again, the series was revived by Paramount+ and premiered on the streaming platform on Thursday (Nov. 11). Advertised as a “new original series,” The Game follows its original characters, Tasha Mack (Wendy Raquel Robinson), Malik Wright (Hosea Chanchez), and Brittany Pitts (Adriyan Rae) as they tackle the thriving world of Las Vegas football and all that it comes with.
After finishing the two-part series premiere, I’m intrigued to see this version of The Game tackle more serious issues like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)—a “brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas,” according to health experts.
Wright, notorious for his outlandish escapades and blunt outbursts, is discovered to be hallucinating his dead best friend, Caleb Jones, and is potentially facing his most serious injury to date. Unable to be diagnosed with CTE as it can only be diagnosed postmortem, Wright begrudgingly returns to pro-football for one more year before either retiring or becoming a minority owner.
Mack is still a big-time sports agent, now struggling to balance work, being the mother to a young girl, and marriage.
The reprise of the beloved series feels familiar yet still new. It may never regain the lovable sitcom aspect it had in its early years, but there’s lots of potential with this new revival. Series showrunner Devon Greggory explained, “We’re going to come deep with some deep issues because 2021 is different than 2008.”
The series, which “will tackle a number of social issues and more as [the cast] fight for fame, fortune, respect and love all while trying to maintain their souls as they each play The Game,” was granted a 10-episode order. Hall is set to reprise his role as Derwin Davis and Coby Bell, who played Jason Pitts, will reportedly make a guest appearance.
Overall, we definitely recommend giving the reboot a chance. And if you’re chasing nostalgia, The Game Seasons 1–9 are streaming now on Paramount+.
New episodes of The Game revival will drop on Paramount+ every Thursday.