I missed last week's episode and have just finished watching the rerun before tonight's new episode.
And I'm done. Between this episode's treatment of Tasha Mack and the news that the show's stars, Tia Mowry Hardrict and Pooch Hall, will not be returning next season, I just can't.
I had hoped that Tasha and Pookie getting together would provide the writers an opportunity to resurrect the Tasha Mack that was so compelling on the CW's version.
But no. Now she is a sex addict. It wasn't that she had distrust and anger issues with Coach T. It wasn't whatever broke her and Rick Fox up that has never been explained. Nope, now she's a ho. Now we are supposed to believe that she's always been motivated to pick men solely because of sex.
Except nothing that the show has really done to date suggests this is anywhere near the case.
This is a manipulative, insulting and downright abusive and sexist treatment of the character of Tasha Mack. There is no reason for this to occur other than to create artificial conflict in the new relationship. But it would just be nice if the show would root these conflicts in the characters we know, rather than just try to be over the top and soapy.
I get that The Game is a different show from Girlfriends – which I believe to be the best black television show of the last decade – and I even somewhat kinda understand the desire to soap it up thinking that it would appeal to a broader audience even though it was a flagrant misread of the show's core audience, but the treatment of Tasha Mack (and, to a lesser extent, Malik and Melanie) in the BET version is appalling and offensive in the extreme.
I didn't even watch tonight's episode. I'm done.
I'm sure folks have thoughts. Share them with me in the comments.
So…life happened and I couldn't keep up with reviews. But I've had a chance to watch all the episodes I missed OnDemand, as well as tonight's episode.
Before we get into tonight's episode, here are my thoughts on what I missed:
- Overall, this back set of episodes is more consistently funny and traditionally sitcom-like than the first 10 episodes and most of Season 4. I think this has a lot to do with the end of the Tasha/Melanie feud, which lasted too long and sapped all the joy out of the show (what little there was). I am pleased, if cautiously so.
- I am not sure that I understand why Derwin and Melanie would want Tasha to carry their baby. As a human with a Y-chromosome, I want to tread lightly here but: isn't it harder to carry a baby to term after 35? Why would they want a 40-something surrogate?
- I still think Coby Bell is the series MVP and any scene he's in is going to be better than any scene without him, but the "friend" party did sort of raise the glaring issue that the show has gotten so far away from these people being friends and being in each other's lives that it, in some ways, makes no sense for this show to be on the air. It'd be nice if they found a way to reintegrate Bell into the show and find ways to have the five leads share scenes together.
- These episodes have been good for the development of Derwin as this brand new balla who is basically feelin himself a bit too much. Not blocking for Kwan is a major, in some ways unforgivable, mistake and I'm glad the show treated it as such. I am really hoping the writers use this as an opportunity to ground him (and Melanie too, for that matter) because not having them as the heart and moral compass of the show is a big part of the reason the BET version is so off-balance. Pooch Hall – always the show's weakest actor – stepped up nicely in the Kwan episode.
- I love the Tasha/Pookie relationship story. I think there is tremendous potential here. And who doesn't love the gorgeous and supremely talented Rockmond Dunbar. More of him is a good thing. Tasha Mack deserves more and so does Wendy Raquel Robinson.
- Lastly, Loretta Devine as Grandma Mack? Genius! And so emotionally rich. She and Robinson had a great scene at the end of Episode 13.
So that's it for the episodes I missed. Thoughts on Episode 17 after the jump. As always, reviews of previous episodes can be found here.
Have y’all noticed that for black television shows, the production companies skimp on the extras?
It seems to me that with shows like The Cosby Show, A Different World, and Soul Food, which are watershed productions for African-Americans in terms of casting, writing, directing and story, that the production companies might want to let the creative minds behind the shows talk about how they were produced.
Even shows that didn’t last very long like Arrested Development give you tons of extras.
But not for black shows.
I noticed this when I was watching Girlfriends on DVD, which is probably one of the best black shows ever produced and has more extras about the show’s conception and production than any other black show. On the Season 3 set, there is a special that talks about shooting the two-part finale, which was Toni’s wedding to Todd.
I was struck by how much Mara Brock Akil had really thought out the direction of that season of Girlfriends. How detailed her vision of each of the girls is. How the show speaks to her thoughts and feelings as a black woman. How she truly wanted to push the boundaries of comedy by embracing more and more dramatic elements.
After watching this piece, I became aware that Girlfriends is the only black show on DVD that gives its producers a platform on the DVD to talk about the creative process in a way we see all up and through white productions. It was interesting to hear about the original vision of the show (Joan was originally dark-skinned and Lynn was supposed to just be a black girl who could pass, not biracial) and how it was developed.
It only makes watching the show that much richer.
We just don’t get this kind of treatment en masse and it’s kind of annoying. I suspect that Girlfriends gets better treatment because it’s a relatively newer show and because Kelsey Grammar is fine with the expense.
But for shows like The Cosby Show, and A Different World, what you get are pre-packaged retrospectives that ran on TV years ago. These are more about the shows’ impact on America – which is very important — but don’t talk in any real detail about production. There are no behind the scenes, no outtakes, no commentaries. Almost nothing.
Soul Food fairs worse. All four seasons have been released and there is not a single extra to be found. As the longest running black drama ever on television, it deserved more than just the episodes.
It would just be nice to know how Soul Food became a television show. I’d kill to see screen tests for Rockmond and Nicole Ari Parker, who both dominated the show with fine dramatic acting every episode. I’d like outtakes. I’d like to know how shows were scripted. Where was the show shot? How the hell did Darrin Hensen get cast as Lem?
I think it’d be great to listen to Tempest and Keshia reflect on all them Rudy/Vanessa fights. Or Malcolm reminiscing about shooting the ear piercing episode. Can Lisa talk about her wardrobe? Outtakes. Something.
How do Marisa and Lisa feel about that first season of A Different World? Where is Charnele Brown (Kim) and Ajai Sanders (Gina)?
How did they cast Living Single?
These are the kinds of things that might entice black folks (and others) to plop down the dolo for black television on DVD. It’s also just interesting.
Most black shows were tentpole productions that defined a generation and built networks. It’d be interesting to hear how they got made.
I’d be willing to bet that the production companies would say that they can’t justify the expense because they can’t guarantee that black folks will plop down the $40 for a season of Living Single or Martin. And I don’t think they’d be wrong. It just seems shortsighted.
So as usual, it becomes a vicious cyle. Companies sell inferior product. Black folks don’t buy it. Companies continue to sell inferior product because black folks don’t buy enough to justify production expense.