The Game

17 Oct

The Game was a show originally aired on BET (Black Entertainment Television). The show features almost all black characters and is about three football players that play on the same team; Jason, Malik and Derwin. The show focuses on the lives of each of these players and their wife, girlfriend and mom; Kelly, Melanie and Tasha. Kelly is the wife of Jason and she is pretty much the only main white character present in this show. Melanie is Derwin’s girlfriend and Tasha is Malik’s mom/manager.

Back when the show aired I followed it pretty faithfully, but once season three was over I stopped watching. Since it has been so long since I saw the show I decided to watch two episodes focusing mainly on the character of Kelly. The first episode I watched focused mainly on Kelly (Jason’s wife). She had to prepare for his parents coming in town. Jason’s parents, but his mom in particular, do not like Kelly at all which makes Kelly nervous to have them in town visiting. Also, Jason expects Kelly to do everything around the house, not only to prepare for his parents but also to prepare him for the playoffs. Kelly gets really stressed in this episode because she never speaks up to Jason to tell him how she really feels. As a result, she has a panic attack and ends up in the hospital.
The next episode I watched focused more on Melanie (Derwin’s girlfriend). In this episode Melanie finds out that Derwin cheated on her. After breaking up with him publicly, she goes to Kelly and Tasha to ask them to help her get her things out of Derwin and hers apartment. In this episode we see Kelly from a different angle, the friend angle.

In both episodes Kelly is presented as dumb or ditsy. She says stupid things and asks ridiculous questions. In the reading Portrayals of Whiteness in Black Films, it talks about the three different ways white characters are seen in predominantly black movies. In this case, The Game is a television show, but it does have some similarities to how films portray whites. Kelly seems to be a little more awkward when she is in groups of black people in this show. She says stupid things probably because she is conscious that she is the only white one around. When we get nervous, sometimes we say things to try to cover it up, but the things that we end up saying sound dumb. In the episode where Tasha and Kelly are helping Melanie get her things out of Derwin’s apartment, Kelly makes a comment about not forgetting Melanie’s hair products because “black women can’t be separated from her hair products.” This is a comment that a person who is socially awkward with blacks would make. They try to sound like they know so much about a culture, but then end up saying something extremely stereotypical and ignorant.

Another thing that I noticed is that Kelly is a push over in this show. When we talked about Whiteness in class, we talk about how it is associated with power. Perhaps because Kelly is a woman she is portrayed this way, but as a white person she lacks a lot of power in this show. In the episode where Jason’s parents come to visit, Kelly gets ordered around by not only Jason, but his parents as well. She never says no, which shows her lack of power, and she ends up going to extreme lengths to try and satisfy all three of them. This is so opposite of what we would normally see a white character, man or woman, do. Kelly stayed up all night painting the guest room so that Jason’s parents were satisfied. Jason knew that she had worked hard but the next morning when Kelly made his breakfast, he said it tasted bad and if she could remake it. Of course Kelly says yes, even though she is so tired and just wants to rest. She has no power at all.

Switching to looking at the character of Tasha, an outspoken women in the show who says whatever is on her mind, is the one that brings up race the most. In almost every episode Tasha says something that has to do with being black or being white. In the second episode I watched, both Tasha and Kelly were worried about Melanie because she had not contacted them. Kelly said “I hope she isn’t dead” and Tasha responds by saying “They never report when a black woman dies.” In the first episode I watched, Kelly did not show up to Jason’s football game because she had a panic attack. When Melanie said to Tasha “I wonder if Kelly is okay. It isn’t like her to miss a game,” Tasha responds with “She probably ran back to white folks.” In this sense race is very present in this show because of the fact that Tasha and Melanie hang out with Kelly, the white woman of the group. Along with the fact that they make race somewhat a topic of discussion, they also present stereotypes to the audience. For example, Kelly is dumb and a pushover which is somewhat a stereotype of white women. Also, Tasha is loud and a little crazy, which is a stereotype of black women. The black men in the show are either players or cheaters, which a lot of times is a stereotype of black men. However, the characters in this show do develop substance and are all shown as having their own lives away from white people. Deggan talked about how in many shows, white shows, the black characters have no substance and play the black best friend role. In this show we do not see this at all. Each character is fully developed and we see them interact with people in many different ways.

I think that this show confirms what we have talked about in class and read about when it comes to having white characters in a black context. The black characters have a chance to develop their true self and have more substance, like Deggan mentions as well as the reading Portrayals of Whiteness in Black Films. However, in this show I do think that they could do a better job of not having characters be as stereotypical as they are. Yes the show allows the audience to see each character as distinct and different, but these characters carry stereotypes with them which takes away from the idea of breaking away from the white norm.

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