The cancellation of CW’s The Game, represents the final nail in the coffin for African American shows on network TV. Over the past decade, there were a handful of black shows, sitcoms to be particular, that saw the light of day. Once upon a time, there was a minor league network called The WB that gained it’s primary audience by airing these programs – The Jamie Foxx Show, The Wayan’s Brothers, The Parent ‘Hood, The Steve Harvey Show and Sister, Sister, (after being dropped from ABC) being prime examples.
Meanwhile there existed another network that appeared to remain loyal to their African American base: The now defunct UPN, which showcased One on One, Half and Half, and All of Us and Eve, to name a few. In January 2006, CBS and WB announced that they would collapse both The UPN and The WB and launch a brand new network called The CW. From that point, decisions were made as to which programs from each network would be migrated over to The CW, and which ones would be terminated. By 2006, African American programs had been completely eliminated from The WB and it was crystal clear which UPN shows would get the boot as a result of the merger. 7th Heaven, Beauty and the Geek, Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, Reba, Smallville, and Supernatural found a new home at The CW, leaving Girlfriends, and All of Us, The Game, and Everybody Hates Chris as the last Black network TV shows standing.
The downward trend continued with the sudden cancellation of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s All of Us, and was accentuated by the cancellation of the CW’s long running hit show Girlfriends two years later, in 2008. After 8 seasons, and millions in ad revenues, they weren’t even given so much as a series finale. When interviewed once, Mara Brock Akil stated that she was “in talks with the studio and network on putting together a retrospective show which will honor and celebrate this landmark series, so please stay tuned.” Sounds hopeful, but that claim was made well over a year ago. So much for closure.
In a sea European imagery, Brock Akil’s new hit series, The Game, was the last hope as a program that featured a predominately adult Black cast.
The rumors that had been swirling for over a year about the annihilation of Black programs from network TV were confirmed recently when CW President Dawn Ostroff admitted that CW execs “decided to stop developing comedies a few years ago. Maybe at some point in the future we’ll make a go of it again.” Ironically, the last of the sitcoms just so happened to be the final two shows targeted for the African American audience, with Everybody Hates Chris bringing up the rear.
So now that we know what to not to expect from network TV, we have the choice as to how to proceed. The African American viewer has a history of being overlooked – enjoying mere fleeting moments of programming aimed to reflect us (neglecting to even scratch the surface of our range and complexity).
It’s worth fighting for The Game for many reasons. Ultimately, it’s crucial that we as African Americans exercise our power as viewers and consumers and make our voices heard.
The question of quality is a valid one, but we have as much of a right to be thoroughly reflected on the tube as our white counterparts; but in order to do that, we need volume, which is built one show at a time.
To help save The Game (as well as Black programming), you can hit up, The CW, TV One, BET, TNT, Lifetime and WE TV, and state your desire to for them pick up the hit show and continue with its fourth season.