Does BET's 'The Game' Hate Black Women?

It's been over a year since The Game returned to television, and the comeback has been rocky. The story arcs lack depth and the dialogue lacks wit. But those missteps might have been forgiven had the show preserved the integrity of the characters we grew to love so much that we, the viewers, petitioned for months to revive. Not only did that not happen, but since it's return, The Game took a nasty misogynistic turn that has left many members of its Black, female viewership frustrated and confused.

A show that once centered around the fraught yet loving relationships of a trio of unlikely friends, has devolved into a replication of the same tired stereotypes Black women are fed at every turn. What spurred that creative decision? I doubt The Game's audience has changed since its days on network TV, and the team behind-the-scenes has remained largely intact. But the BET production now lives up to the network's reputation as a haven for Black woman bashing.

The women on the show are now merely plot devices. None of the characters are fully developed but the definition of the female characters seems malicious. Melanie's bizarre transformation this season provides a prime example.

The show's writers made some questionable choices with Mel in the past, but she was a woman whose eyebrow raising decisions were dictated by her complex and often messy circumstances. (Some of which she controlled, but many she did not.)That Melanie was relatable. This one is unredeemable. She's shallow and materialistic. The woman who worked her way through medical school is now ceaselessly vapid.

Related: The Trouble With BET: On Chris Brown and Media Irresponsibility

The infertility story line, however, concerns me more than anything. The show took some jabs at name brand religion this week, but the framing of Mel's struggle to conceive relies on the Gospel of slut-shaming taught by patriarchy and conservative religion. It is more than implied that her infertility is a punishment for past promiscuity. Despite the fact that one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, The Game's writers seem intent to perpetuate the negative stigma associated with, what is, a common medical procedure.

The Chardonnay storyline, meant to evolve Jason Pitts, provides even more cringe-inducing moments. Chardonnay couldn't simply be Jason Pitts' love interest; she has to be the link to his forgotten heritage. She's Chardonnay the Magic Negress ushering him to the Proud Black Man Promised Land. The character would be less maddening if heterosexual Black women were not expected to subvert personal work to become our fullest, freest selves in order to guide the maturation of our partners.

And then there's Tasha Mack. Not even her immaculate head scarf could distract from the offensiveness of her lonely black woman spiel to Jason in which she calls Steve Harvey a prophet. A prophet? The man who made millions exploiting the real pain and imagined deficiency of Black women. Tasha's grounded moments come in interactions with her son, but I deeply resent her overall coonification.

The frustration with which I watched last night's episode of The Game makes me wonder why I bother. Then I remember television and I have a dysfunctional relationship that borders on the abusive. The more shows I once loved hurt me, the more invested I become in their success. The Game, once a light comedy, is now a heavy handed dramedy that halfheartedly attempts to tackle deep issues within black communities without an ounce of nuance.

This is an official plea to flesh out the The Game's female characters. It's time for show to explore the fullness of their womanhood. Let them be women not caricatures.

Kimberly Foster is the Editor and Publisher of For Harriet. Email her at with comments or find her on Twitter.

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