IMHO: The gay storyline on “The Game” played out nicely

In last week’s episode of The Game, the CW sports sitcom about football players and their wives, we were left on a rather dispririting note, with Clay, an outed player, left alone in the lockerroom, abandoned by his teammates — especially the sitcom’s lead character, Malik (Hosea Chancez).

Picking up the story this week (on Friday), Mickey (Brian McGovern), the team manager, has had a chance to think things through, and he’s decided, "We’re all going to stand behind Clay."

"Well, that’s better than standing in front of him!" calls out one of the players. Malik even comes right out and refers to Clay as a "fag." Later, one of the footplayer players’ wives gets drunk and tells a series of surprisingly ribald gay jokes. "Why are gay men the first ones to check out of a hotel? Because they get their stuff packed at night."

Brian McGovern and Coby Bell on The Game (Photo: Scott Humbert/The CW)

In other words, the footplayers talk and act like bigoted, homophobic jocks, and their wives act like drunken brainless twits — which is probably why I liked this episode so much. Yes, some of these homophobic jokes got "laughs" from the studio audience (though I noted the laugh track was noticably measured on most of them).

But the show did a pretty good job of portraying homophobia in all its ugly glory — and how all the rest of it, religion and the other "arguments" we so often hear, are usually just a veneer for blatant prejudice.

This being a sitcom, things are wrapped up in the end, but even that wasn’t sitcom-typical. Why are people ultimately motivated to accept the gay player? Cold hard cash.

"Clay could be our golden rainbow parachute!" the team manager says. "Being the first team with an openly gay athelete would bring us tons of publicity. People who love the gays will show up and cheer, people who hate the gays’ll show up and boo."

"So this is about money?"

"Yes!"

Basically, everyone, even the people doing the "right" thing, is motivated by money. Meanwhile, no one is particularly bright, nor gives much thought to any of this.

"They’re really good at fashion, and Oprah swears by them," says Kelly (Brittany Daniel), trying to talk the other players’ wives into accepting a gay spouse (for a price, of course).

In short, this show is pretty vicious satire of American sports culture, in more ways than one.

Malik, the homophobe, is the longest hold-out. "Malik Wright can’t be bought," he insists.

Hosea Chanchez with Mookie and Marcello Thedford in The Game (Photo: Scott Humbert/The CW)

In the end, he does change, getting a rather clunky lesson in tolerance from a children’s puppet on a TV show on which he’s appearing — the one weak link in this episode.

But except for that ending, I was surprised by how much I liked what I was seeing; it felt like something edgy and pointed and real — something I haven’t really seen before.

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