After three seasons on The CW and another six on BET, The game is back when new episodes arrive this Thursday on Paramount+.
Moving its setting from San Diego to Las Vegas, the revival will explore black culture through a soccer ball as the show’s protagonists grapple with “racism, sexism, classism” and more, while also fighting for “fame, fortune, respect and love,” according to the official synopsis.
New faces include: Chicago fire‘s Adriyan Rae as Brittany Pitts, Jason and Kelly Pitts’ now grown daughter, Vaughn Hebron (Tyler Perry’s the oval one) as Jamison Fields, an unwritten free agent; Madam Secretary‘s Tim Daly as Colonel Ulysses S. Thatcher, a self-made billionaire and owner of the Las Vegas Fury soccer team; Analisa Velez (sneaky Piet) as Brittany’s best friend Raquel Navarro; and Power Book III: Raising Kanan‘s Toby Sandeman as Garret Evans, the best player in the league.
Series OGs Malik Wright and Tasha Mack will also return and take the lead in the new season. Wendy Raquel Robinson, who plays Tasha, reveals she had reservations about returning to her larger-than-life character before joining the revival.
“I was hesitant at first because it’s been about 18 years, occasionally, of my life,” she tells TVLine. “I’ve never had a character I portrayed that was so versatile, so multidimensional, so flawed, so funny… To watch her unravel, to see her get it all back – it’s a journey of a lifetime, so i couldn’t not do it. And by working with new writers and adding their interpretation of this character, it was just a win-win for me.”
Hosea Chanchez, who plays Malik, also admits he wasn’t entirely sure about returning to his character until talks with executive producer Mara Brock Akil (who created the original series) and showrunner/writer Devon Greggory changed his mind.
“I just didn’t see… I thought, ‘Okay, I did that. We did it,’ [and] we did really well,” he says. However, after speaking with producers, he realized that “wow, there’s a lot more here for me. Chanchez will also be more involved this time around. In addition to the lead role, he is He is also a producer and will direct an episode this season.”It’s a very different engagement now than before,” he adds.
The game continues eight years after the series finale, with Tasha Mack struggling to balance her hectic work life with being there for her husband Pookie and daughter Kai.
“I try to juggle” [being a] being a mother, life, love, career, being a boss, being Kris Jenner, and it’s a struggle,” Robinson explains. “You see the parts of Tasha that have it all together, but then the other parts of Tasha that really have to make that sacrifice, not just for her child, but for her future… You’re going to see a very different Tasha grounded but still looking for the love in her marriage i’m still married but how married am i? because she is So career-oriented.”
New episodes will also explore a different side of Malik, which is more mature and focused than in the original series. “He’s a man on his journey for his purpose,” Chanchez notes. “In many ways, Malik was the character that hadn’t had a full life in the series. To me, he was the only character that needed development in some way, whether that was adulthood or finding a family life or family life for themselves.”
For Chanchez, discovering new layers to Malik was what made it worth returning to: “I’m so shocked and surprised that there are still layers and levels to go, but if you think about it, that’s the way life is. is,” he says.
The upcoming episodes will bring both the comedy and drama, but don’t expect to see another musical moment like Tasha singing Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” for Rick Fox in Season 3.
“Can I tell you how terrifying that was for me, the actress who doesn’t sing? So I’m in my head about Which, and I’m Rihanna’s biggest fan. Then it’s Rick Fox, beautiful as he is, in my face,” she recalled of the iconic scene. “But what I love about Tasha is that when you step into those shoes, you can’t doubt it. It’s ‘commit to the bit’ all the way, or the public can see when you’re not committed.”
While Robinson won’t be singing in the new season, Robinson notes there are “certainly some very poignant and standout moments.”
“The comedy is based on truth and reality, but at the same time, those big, over-the-top moments come,” she adds. “They come surprisingly, but [not] so often, so when they do, they’ll be even more memorable.”