Usually when our favorite TV shows end all we’re left with are reruns. But that hasn’t been the case with The Game. The series, a spin-off of Mara Brock Akil’s Girlfriends, is currently on its second revival. This time, Tasha Mack, her son Malik and a couple of new characters are coming to Paramount + for some fresh stories with familiar faces.
Wendy Raquel Robinson, who first played the role of Mack 17 years ago, says it’s the multidimensional characters that keep fans wanting more of the comedy-drama which originally aired on The CW before BET picked it up in 2010.
“I think about myself and my son. We started from the bottom and you see us work our asses off to get to the top and to stay there by any means necessary,” Robinson said. “We can dine at the White House but we can still hang in the hood. We cross over all those different palates, and I think it’s kind of appetizing to a little bit of everybody.”
While fans have tuned in to the series faithfully through its many iterations – Netflix brought it to its streaming platform in 2020 – Robinson said she and her castmates are well aware of sentiments that the show has passed its prime
“We hear it. [They’ll say] ‘Well, I’m not watching. But they all come around and say, ‘It’s good.’”
Fans aren’t the only ones who’ve been skeptical about a return of The Game. Robinson admitted she had her own reservations.
“Whoo! I was nervous. I was anxious,” she said, adding that she asked herself, “Is this the right career path? Is this the right journey?” Still, she explained, “At the end of the day, I said what an honor to play a role that has been such an incredible part of my life for 17 years and see all these different reincarnations of her. So yes, I was very skeptical. But I read the script and I loved it.”
In the latest revival, the cast tackles issues of sexism, ageism and racism. (The premiere episode deals with a lack of Black ownership in the league.) The subject that personally touched Robinson the most while filming was hair.
“For me, hair has always been a thing,” she said. “I started with braids when I was dancing. Lost my edges, then I got them back. I cut it all off during the Steve Harvey days–trying to find myself through my hair. I’m a Leo and my mane is everything. The particular [episode] is powerful because it’s framed through the eyes of my eight-year-old daughter. What she experienced at eight could have been trauma for her if Tasha didn’t get that straight. Or it could be one of the proudest moments of her life.”
As a mother to a young daughter, Tasha has had to grow and evolve. That change will be noticeable to audiences, Robinson said.
“I think you see she’s smarter. She’s not so quick to throw it out there, say everything and then reel it back in. She’s learned from her mistakes. Not that she doesn’t make them anymore. She’s way more developed than she’s ever been and fighting for what’s really important and that’s coming back to family.”
In addition to the new character development happening in front of the camera, Robinson shared that she’s particularly proud of all the Black women in leadership roles behind the scenes.
“I’ve done so much film, TV, stage and I’ve never seen this many African American women behind this engine pushing it,” Robinson said. “Our set decorator is a bad sister. And when you see these sets, [they’re] everything. Our wardrobe department is amazing. The sound department, a sister. The head of transportation with all these big trucks and tractors? A sister. This is all female, Black led. I work with youth [at the Amazing Grace Conservatory] so I want them to see that nothing is impossible.”
When it comes to the type of content we need to see on screen, Robinson is certain the third iteration of The Game fits the bill.
“I think the lessons, the humor, the journey that they go through, there’s nothing like it on tv, especially that looks like us, that feels like us, that has a pulse and a heartbeat that’s about us and by us. If, for no other reason, give us a chance for that. I think they’ll enjoy it. I know they will. I’m proud of this baby.”
The Game premieres November 11 on Paramount +. You can also watch all previous seasons on the streaming service.