If you hadn't guessed from the title, this episode of The Game plays the race card. Unfortunately, that's not a good move.
There's still plenty of bad blood between Mel and Tasha, which spills out during planning for the Saber Sunbeam fashion show. Tasha has recruited NeNe Leakes and Mel is not impressed. One of the other Sunbeams (who happens to be white) tries to get Tasha replaced as head of the fashion show. This is all another setup for another fight between Mel and
Likewise, Derwin and Malik are still tetchy with one another, so Derwin starts chatting with new QB Quan Kirkland (Charles Michael Davis). We find out that Kwan broke up with Camille (Stacey Dash). Derwin takes Quan's disinterest in hanging out with him as disrespect. Both Mel and Derwin sound like they've been drinking their own Kool-Aid. No wonder why people start bailing on Derwin.
Jason and Chardonnay are actually going out somewhere sober, and she wants him to meet all her friends. Jason is reluctant at first, but then ends up engaged in actual conversation with them about various racial issues. He is bewildered when one of her friends calls him "brother," as apparently it's the first time anyone has ever done so.
This part of the episode does sit a little odd with me, though. I'm not black, so I can't speak to how valid the episode's arguments about "driving while black" are, but to use Jason's words, this part of the episode does feel like it's being a little "over-sensitive." Telling Jason not to acknowledge the cops behind them before launching into another spiel about how cops are biased? Setting aside how true or not that argument is, it's been done to death.
After that, Jason starts overreacting the other way on the subject, thinking he's being stopped by a store employee because he's black, rather than because the cashier who rung him up has a tendency not to remove security tags. "I don't know what is and isn't anymore," he tells Chardonnay, whom he finally kisses. The only thing that makes this whole segment funny is Coby Bell's talent for playing indignation for humor. When Jason is wound is also when Jason is hilarious.
Here's why I have a problem: the whole thing feels preachy, as if Chardonnay's friends are just a mouthpiece for the writers' own beliefs. That may not be true, but that's how it comes off. What's more bothersome is that it's against what's made The Game so endearing: it's universal. Yes, it has a primarily black cast and it's now on a black television channel, but I never saw it as a 'black show.' Even though I'm a white woman, I still laughed and loved and identified. In contrast, this whole episode seems so one-sided.
It doesn't rectify any of the issues that I identified last week either. There's no real forward momentum here. Mel and Tasha fight again; we've been seeing that since the beginning of the season. Mel and Derwin's egos continue to inflate - that's not a good move when we're supposed to like them. Another one of the show's charms was that despite their stardom, we could always identify with the characters. Between Mel, Derwin and Tasha's behavior, it's starting to feel like the characters have become less identifiable and more privileged.
I can't help but think of season four, which too started strong before it stumbled. I hope we're not about to see a repeat performance.
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.