Plot: The San Diego Sabers is a professional football team loaded with talent on the field and off the field, loaded with drama. The team’s players are always in some kind of drama, especially with their wives, girlfriends, and mothers at their sides, taking them to task for every move. Melanie (Tia Mowry) is married to the Sabers’ new rookie Derwin (Pooch Hall) and while she was deep into medical school, she has put her own goals on hold to support his sports career. She struggles to share her husband with this new world of fame and fortune, but she has the support of her fellow women, who formed a social group to bolster each other. Tasha (Wendy Raquel Robinson) is an ambitious mother who oversees her son’s career, Kelly (Brittany Daniel) wants to use her husband’s fame to become a reality television star, and all the while, drama is around every corner and these women are always knee deep in it.

Entertainment Value: A spin-off of Girlfriends, The Game is a light, brisk sitcom that tackles some social issues now and then, but sticks to the usual sitcom formula for the most part. That isn’t a knock on the show, as it is a fun watch, but those who don’t appreciate sitcom style humor aren’t likely to be converted here, as The Game follows the typical genre tropes. I appreciated how large the cast of featured characters is, even from the start there is a wide pool of stories to draw upon and over the course of the series, that pool even deepens. This ensures The Game can shake up the flow of the show and alternate featured arcs and characters, which is important as it keeps things fresh and interesting. This also allows for some longer arcs to unfold than most sitcoms, though to be fair, most of this is character development and for the most part, stories are resolved in episodic fashion, as you’d expect. I also appreciated the wealth of interesting female and African American characters in The Game, a welcome change of pace from the usual sitcom sameness. The show ran for nine seasons and as expected with such a long run, some seasons are better than others, but overall I think The Game is solid as far as light sitcoms are concerned. The later seasons cut back on episodes, which helps keep the quality more consistent. So if you’re a fan of brisk sitcoms or some of the show’s many stars, give The Game a shot.

The cast of the game is one of the show’s strongest traits, as it always has an interesting and deep roster of regulars, one that might change often over the nine seasons, but is consistently impressive. The show begins focused on Tia Mowry’s character and that holds true for quite a while, but even in the earlier seasons, the other characters are given ample opportunities to shine. Mowry is of course a sitcom veteran and she handles the light humor with ease, using dialed up mannerisms and facial expressions to add some laughs to the material. I think she is at her best when she has awkward exchanges with her female costars, as she handles those awkward moments so well and is fun to watch in those scenes. Brittany Daniel and Wendy Raquel Robinson are also prominent in the earlier seasons and bring a lot to the table, with Robinson as the strong mother and Daniel as the silly, over the top comic presence. The guys aren’t often in the limelight, but that never proves to be an issue, since the deep cast of talented females rises to carry the series. There are also some great guest star runs here, with talent like Tika Sumpter, Lee Majors, Robin Givens, Rick Fox, and Brandy Norwood, the latter of which has a lengthy stay on the show.

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