Thursday, April 25, 2013

Game. Over.

"I'm known for my ballads, so I'm gonna take it up a couple notches."

One of the Day 26 dudes told me this as I was driving home from work last night, right before he started singing "Don't Fight the Feeling" to me. Yup. Awkward turtle moment.

But the premise makes total sense. I'm good at ballads, so I'm just going to get better at singing ballads. If I'm already considered one of the best at doing what I get paid to do, why not dominate that field? I appreciate that. Embrace the Tim Duncan bank shot of R&B.

Know your role. I'm sure Keyshia Cole and Keri Hilson are nice young ladies, but they're no Beyonce. We appreciate Keyshia for singing flat in that song with Tyrese, but we really appreciate Beyonce twirking it something fierce and taking out the electricity on Super Bowl Sunday. But Mrs. Carter can't crank out mega hits every summer anymore - she's got 10 weeks of breastfeeding to do! - so we need your half-decent albums and marriage to that guy with the worst nickname in sports (Daniel "Boobie" Gibson) to entertain us.

Know your identity and stick to your guns. I'll cover the serious side of personal identity theft on my other blog perch sometime soon, but the premise holds water in the entertainment world. As my aunt tells her kids when they act up...stay in your lane. Don't start what you can't finish.

Why are people so eager to destroy what works? How do good shows become stinkers? Well, producers want to rack up credits, executives want to keep making bank, and writers want to lay off the chuck steak. Big studio paychecks can make any showrunner lazy. But not all change is good change.
Just look at The Game. This show was spun from a sultry Girlfriends episode (aren't they all sultry?), as a young Melanie Barrett followed her athletic boyfriend to sunny California against her older cousin's wishes. Six seasons later, dear Melanie is finishing her studies at fictional Johns Hopkins, leaving us with a cast of retreads and Boss Lady.

Unfortunately, we have reached the denouement.
Just don't tell BET. They've gotten more mileage out of that Season Four 7.7 Nielsen rating than you think. I sat in a media meeting with a BET executive who waved that high cable rating around like a church fan. In a television market more highly saturated than Duncan Hines, networks need shows that feign respectability. Even though The Game was only a 7 million person march on its BET premiere episode, that number will feed mouths for years.

No need to tell them that the show is a far cry from its UPN roots.

Yes, I watched the premiere. My friend Bryant almost trolled me into punching out a 2,000 word joke fest like I did in 2011, but I couldn't bring myself to hit "Publish." As I reread my final draft, I realized that my exercise in fun and games quickly turned into low-hanging fruit jabs. There's a difference between poking fun at a friend's botched wedding during a 4th of July BBQ and listening to Dane Cook make jokes about it. BET is family, after all.

When a car careens off the road, it's not polite to point and laugh. But at some point - once everybody's OK - the vehicle's owner must determine manufacturer error and operator negligence, ensuring that the any errors that led to the initial car wreck cease to exist moving forward.

The Game's fatal flaw? Trying to change lanes on a one-lane street. Alas.
At least we'll always have THEM on Netflix.

- M.B., II

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