Interceptions: The Real-Life Story Behind “The Game”

It’s not a pretty tale either. A few years ago I’d read about an author who had successfully sued  The CW, Warner Brothers and CBS for stealing her story idea. Staci Robinson had written a television script loosely based on her life about a UCLA student dating a young man who’d be drafted into the NFL and their subsequent break-up.

Robinson’s script was rejected but about a year or so later when the sitcom The Game premiered she saw all the key components of her submission being used and took them to court. for copyright infringement. The fact that she a) won her case b) didn’t have to sign a gag order c) went on to publish her book was nothing short of a miracle. It reminds me of Sophia Stewart’s unsuccessful attempt when suing Warner Brothers at not receiving credit and compensation for The Matrix/Terminator story. Stewart being discredited does not mean she did not in fact create it.

When the show debuted as a “spin-off” from Girlfriends I watched but I found myself constantly annoyed while doing so. This was back in my pre-BWE days where I couldn’t quite identify the DBR and other dysfunctional behavior I find so distasteful. All I knew was I thought the premise of a young woman who’d been accepted to a premier medical school decide to give that up to support the NFL aspirations of her boyfriend was insane. I suspected had the situation been reversed he would’ve never put his life on hold or turned down a rare opportunity the way she did.

The book premise per Amazon:

Stefanie Pointer, a UCLA senior on her way to a top ten law school, likes herself just the way she is-a smart, ambitious, but simple girl who is comfortable in a tank top, a pair of jeans and flip-flops. When she foregoes her lifelong professional goals and puts the career of her college sweetheart, star football player, Ricky Powers, before hers, her life turns upside down. She must face the blatant disapproval of her parents and the unremitting voice inside her head constantly asking if she’s doing the right thing. As she finds her way through the complicated life of a soon-to-be NFL wife, Stefanie finds herself trading in her flip-flops for a pair of Jimmy Choos, reckoning with the fierce competition of ruthless groupies and losing sight of her dreams. What else is she willing to sacrifice in her search for true love?

The real-life story was (allegedly) between Robinson and Roman Phifer, who were both UCLA students. She did put her life and career aspirations on hold for him. He was drafted to the NFL. The book details the character helping the athlete with his homework, letting her grades suffer, their multiple break-ups, his constant and escalated infidelities and the warnings she received from numerous friends about getting away from him.

I remember reading the book and shaking from the visceral emotional reaction I was experiencing. I doubt I’d be able to read it today or would even buy it as I’d throw it against the wall in disgust.  Of course many people will ask Roman Phifer who? Exactly. He’s not even a famous player and has since retired. Not that that should matter. Sorry, but now I’d be just as likely to dismiss the author character for being a stubborn fool as she was warned repeatedly by  her friends to use common sense, look at his behavior (not what he said) and end a wholly dysfunctional relationship and get back to focusing on her own life.

The book details the characters’ engagement and the lengths Staci Stephanie went through to hold onto a jerk despite the inevitable sexual perversions that many males seem to want to engage in these days (group sex, etc), the lying, the buying off with expensive trinkets and the promises to change that never occur. Oh and I forgot to mention Roman’s Ricky’s obsession with light/white skin women. At the mere age of 22, 23 (I’d have to go check) she finds him with an even younger (17, 18) and lighter version of herself and she finally decides to end the relationship. She walks away with nothing because she gave up everything to be with him in the first place.

This is really just another example of the wholly dysfunctional, deviant behavior of black males at large and the women who insist on surrounding themselves with the sickness. My only hope is that fans of the show take heed the real-life warning Robinson issues in the book that she had to learn the hard way.

One of the closing scenes in the book (which is very visual by the way – because she is an excellent writer) has her at a bus stop in Westwood where she sees her replacement driving a brand new overpriced car (top down) and wearing a ring big enough to choke a horse. She said she wished the woman well.

The only other tidbit I found mildly interesting about this scenario was the real-life woman in question was allegedly Alexis Eggleston who uses her ex-husband’s last name Phifer, the clothing designer who used to be engaged to Kayne West. I think karma must have visited her for its payment at some point with that relationship.  It all comes full circle at the end of the day.

Did I issue enough “allegedly” flags to CYA??????

Where the tv show ventured off was in diminishing Roman’s Ricky’s Derwin’s duplicity, making Staci Stephanie Melanie a medical student instead of a law student, in adding different characters and making it a comedy. There was a British show titled Footballers’ Wives that was a drama…for a reason. That lifestyle is no joke. Yet, even if the producers had not stolen her idea to turn tragedy into comedy the show is problematic for the message it sends.

When the series ended on the CW network the leads had survived their break-ups, but he had impregnated another woman he’d briefly dated. She was scrambling to throw together a hastily put together wedding so she could be the Mrs. before the ex gave birth to his son. DRAMA.

Now that Satan’s Entertainment Network (that would be BET) has picked up the series I shudder to think about the nonsense that will ensue as they continue down this path. This show also featured a black male player who was an extreme cheapskate married to a white woman where they made jokes about not combing their daughter’s hair. There’s the street-savvy, loud Mom-Manager and her over-sexed, immature son. The only thing that differentiates this show from certain real-life  behaviors is none of the lead actresses are bigger than a size 2 and the show has cast the revolving door of disposable women these men “date” of varying skin shades. Classic tv fake-out.

Speaking of which, I spied the HBO documentary about Magic Johnson & Larry Bird that contained some interesting archival footage. A pre-HIV Johnson was shown being interviewed by a white male sportscaster where he was explicitly bragging about the orgy he’d recently participated in. He was happy as a clam discussing in detail about his ability to sex six women. I know my jaw hit the floor as I felt the thud and didn’t want to trip over it later. He saw nothing wrong with personifying the big Black Buck, Mandingo stereotype and thought nothing about broadcasting his depravity to the world. I’m not going to discuss the Jermaine Stewart accusations. You can Google it if you’d like.

Now let’s be clear that he certainly was not and is not the only male to engage in such activities, but most have the common sense to keep their traps shut about advertising it. He was obviously very famous, especially in comparison to the basically anonymous random Negro athlete who was the orbit of a young woman’s universe featured above. Men who solely focus on playing with balls (instruments, politics, etc.) no matter how gifted, usually have not developed other vital life skills that are necessary to sustain viable relationships. While their fame and money may net them a lot of attention while it lasts, perhaps it’s best to let other women who are willing to sacrifice themselves have at it. YOU can find happiness and contentment with a higher-quality man without enduring unnecessary burdens.

41 comments to Interceptions: The Real-Life Story Behind “The Game”

  • itsme-ak

    Girlfriends, the show, reached Britain through cable but it was still on in the US when i was living over there so…Girlfriends was great and oh yes. How could I ever forget the hilarious Living Single? I loved Max and Regine, heck I loved Khadijah(Queen Latifah) and Synclair too. I watched LS religiously!

    But I haven't heard anybody black or white talk about The Game…but praise God that they don't! Maybe they'll NEVER show The Game in the UK! It's bad enough that they sell pirated Tyler Perry movies on DVD that get played once in a while at my godparents' house or at my salon, and that Tyler Perry movies over here sadly do get shown in the UK just because Janet Jackson has been in some of them.

  • foreverloyal

    Well I'll just count myself lucky that I've never watched it. All I knew was that it was about basketball and just wasn't interested. Your analysis is appreciated and I hope that at least a few people will consider it.

  • Kennedy

    All I'm reinforcing is that this show is like candy and since I don't have diabetes, I can partake in moderation. The people who lead these lives are imitating what they see in their own lives not what they see on tv. Hell the author of the book I'm sure did not seek to lead this life based on what she saw on tv, even unconciously. Now if that's the case you should need a license to own a tv, lest you abuse the use of it….unconciously

  • This was an excellent post, I shared it on my networks. I remember watching the very first episode (The Girlfriends spinoff) and was very turned off. Catching future episodes here and there, I still had the same feeling and I could not understand why so many ppl liked this show. Why is this dysfunctional relationship seen as such a great love story? The episode where Melanie is desperate to marry Derwin before his OOW child is born in order to one up his babymama was truly cringeworthy.

    Sometimes I feel like I am being contradictory because I love shows like Gossip Girl and SATC, which have their own relationship drama in the plots, but I do feel like there is more balance in how the stories are presented. Can you imagine Serena Van der Woodsen or Carrie Bradshaw frantically putting a wedding together out of insecurity of being upstaged by their fiance's babymama??? They are way too fabulous for that, LOL!

    The other thing that is incredibly sad is how so many BW's stories are being stolen (The Game,The Matrix, Good Hair, etc) We have to be more shrewd in protecting our interests across the board.

  • My, my, my…the depths that sink to in the name of entertainment. Monique (The Monique Show) was celebrating the return of the Game with high praises. But of course, look at the source…she is a DBR royal flush IMHO.

    I always thought the Game was stupid and rubbed me the wrong way but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. The few times I watched for a few minutes was painful and I'd change the channel within two or three minutes. It's jut not funny. Thanks for sharing this well laid out analysis as it confirmed some of my own unsorted feelings I had about the show.

  • NijaG

    About Magic Johnson. I really wish his wife would have left him when that whole HIV incident came out. Even if they might have reconciled down the line, I don't believe that in those Post-HIV early years she should have stood by him and emotionally supported him as his wife.

    Women in general, but especially Black Women, self-sacrifice too much w/o equitable reciprocity. My mindset in cases where a husband's reckless and stupid actions come back to bite them is this……If I wasn't consulted and made a part of that decision making process and no thought was given to my physical, emotional, and mental well-being, then please don't expect any support from me.

    If MJ hadn't gotten HIV who wants to bet a million dollars that his DBR ways would have continued? It's only because as for right now HIV is incurable. Of course then he found Jesus/religion and changed his way. He needed too because at the time HIV had way more sigma and had a quicker death sentence than now.

    He definitely needed to change quick, in order to get back into his "good, loyal, and faithful" wife's graces. He for sure knew it wasn't going to be the groupies, gold-diggers, and prostitutes he consorted with that would take care of him.

  • Faith,

    This last little bit on another note, and then I'll sit back, be quiet, and stop clogging this thread with comments from me {chuckling}:

    You brought back memories when you mentioned Jermaine Stewart! LOL! At the time when the late Mr. Stewart was alive, I hadn't heard about any accusations involving Magic Johnson. This is the first I'm hearing of that; and it's all very interesting…

  • Part 3

    Well, a smart person wouldn't be eating that mess at all—especially when there are other, healthier choices available to them.

    All of the above is insane and totally unnecessary. This business of BW calling themselves eating around the maggots while choosing to consume poisonous, Negro-targeted TV is insane. Black women engaging in this unnecessary dumpster diving for maggot-infested entertainment-food is particularly insane because there's a banquet of healthy, wholesome, fresh food right around the corner. All they have to do is change the channel. Turn the TV off. And seek out the entertainment products that support normal human life.

  • Part 2

    With all due respect to the "high self-esteemers," a truly healthy person would NOT find anything appealing about these Negro-targeted TV shows. A healthy person reacts with revulsion when presented with that degrading, destructive, Negro-targeted mess (from the coon TV shows to the hip-hop/(c)rap non-music to the illiterate "street literature" trash) .

    A healthy woman who is enjoying the banquet of life does not gravitate to moldy, rotten, maggot-infested entertainment-food. She certainly doesn't put maggot-infested food in her mouth and swallow it down. And then talk about how maggot-infested food is the best thing. And that she's sure that other people know that what she's eating is teeming with maggots, and that they're smart enough to eat around the maggots.

  • Faith,

    I know this won't be a popular statement, but it's the truth (as I see it):

    Any AA woman who wants abundant life must stop watching any and all Negro-targeted TV shows. And stop watching so much TV in general. From what little tidbits I've seen in passing while waiting in the car repair shop, etc., that Negro-targeted mess is all deadly poison. And from the descriptions I've heard of these shows over the years, they are getting more toxic with each year that passes.

    I don't care what the "high self-esteemers" (as Halima has described them in a recent post) say. Nobody is healthy enough to be able to drink down regular doses of poison day after day. Some folks will die quicker than others from the poison, but the poison will eventually kill everybody who keeps drinking it.

    And the fact that so many AA women love the taste of obvious poison lets you know that they're not healthy. And their self-esteem is not as high as they like to claim to believe it is.

  • Truth P.

    Thing is many black viewers,particularly black women, are actually looking to be raised by television.Someone to tell them how to be normal.Someone to school them on what to do about these dire situations.At first I did not realize this until many conversations with many black women on and off line about the man in drag movies.They are actually looking at this stuff for advice on how to be.I was terrified to hear these words out of the mouths of these women given the anti black anit black woman anti-humanity rhetoric in those films.I have a family member who is very anti-gay and loves those man in drag movies, go figure.

    I'm moving away.I have already somewhat detached from many of my own relatives because of their evil toxic ways.I just don't deal with them at all.I'm gonna find away to get my ideal family and community.I'm working on it.

  • I use to dig the Game, until i started to notice those caricatures… Then I stopped.. i am still surprised that its on.. because the writing was actually poor.

  • MesaATLien

    Hi Faith, I'm back!

    Thank God great minds think alike! I thought I was the only person in the world who hated this show! From the get go, it amazed me that people were getting exited over the fact that this medical student, a great one by the way, was willing to go through unnecessary drama just to keep some average football player. A low down no good one at that! It's annoying!

    (sigh…) It's sad because cancelled shows like this with such negative messages will be saved instead of shows that I LOVED like "Living Single", that were actually funny.

    The only reason I even remotely know about this show is because my roommate watches it in our room all the time.

  • Kennedy

    Nope the air is clear here. Thanks for the warning though. It's a black soap opera plain and clear. Relationships, forming and disintegrating, paternity suits, playboys, gold-diggers, etc. I should not have to give that up because a few idiots can't decipher entertainment from their real life choices.

  • Kennedy

    Love this show, I know its not the best thing on tv. It's just what I want it to be 30 minutes a week of drama encapsulated with slick images and pretty people and drops of comedy. I am sad that the show was stolen and hope the original author was compensated well. But I also feel like most of the viewers are smart enough to know sacrificing your dreams and goals are much more painful than one man's love could heal.

  • Jacquie

    I was never a fan of The Game. The one or two shows that I managed to sit through before it was cancelled was enough. Now, I love me some Wendy Raquel Robinson but I think this is too low for her. Sadly, she seems to be typecasted into these types of roles.

    Now that the show is back in rotation, I can't believe (okay, maybe I can) how my fb news feed is LIT UP with 'can't talk- the game is on" or "don't call me for 30 mins" etc etc etc. Uggh. I wonder if people knew the real story would it make any difference. Probably get the same reaction is Good Hair.

  • NijaG

    Great analysis Faith.

    That’s one of the reasons I couldn’t get into The Game. Too many underlying negative messages for women. I just thought it was beyond ridiculous for a smart and pretty woman like Melanie to give up or try like she did substitute her dreams for a guys unproven potential.

    I didn’t know it was based on a real life situation but like you’ve written, the truth is way nastier than on TV.

    I stopped even attempting to follow the show after her desperate behavior to get dwayne back and the whole baby mama situation. I just thought it was beyond pathetic. Add to that all those negative sterotypical roles of the other black women there.