When The Game comes back to Paramount+, it’ll do so with much of the original cast intact. The show, which premiered in 2006 on The CW, moved to BET in 2011 before getting canceled in 2015. The streaming era gave way to Paramount+ green-lighting a 10th season that’ll serve as a reboot of sorts, but there will be some very noticeable differences. When The Game debuted, it starred Tia Mowry and Pooch Hall. However, the two left the show after season five, only making a brief reappearance in the last season. When the show picks back up on Paramount+ on Nov. 11, Hall will be back, but Mowry won’t.
In The Game, Mowry played Melanie Barnett, a medical student who gave up her chance to attend Johns Hopkins to instead follow her football-playing boyfriend, Derwin, played by Hall, to San Diego. Her character was central to the plot, so much so that fans couldn’t imagine a reboot without her. In an August TikTok video, Mowry addressed some questions she frequently gets asked, including one about The Game. Her simple answer to whether she would be returning to the reboot or not was, “Nope sorry!” She didn’t give any further insight at the time, but she did clarify her answer in an October interview with Entertainment Tonight, and it seems she’s not actually opposed to returning to the show.
“You know what’s so funny? Never say never. I mean, as it stands for right now, we aren’t in any talks or communication about me coming back to the show. I know it seems kind of weird, because I’m like, the only one,” she said, alluding to the many original cast members besides Hall who will return, including Raquel Robinson, Hosea Chanchez, Brittany Daniel, Pooch Hall, and Coby Bell, “but you know, Melanie, I loved playing that character, and if everything works out, and if everything works out the way that it should, then who knows, I might be on the show.” She added: “And I will say this, if you guys want me on the show, continue to press, press, press the network and we’ll see.”
Hall told Atlanta Black Star that it was a bummer that his other half on the show wouldn’t be returning with him. “It’s too bad that we can’t continue where we left off. We were compared to so many different couples like Joanie and Chachi (Joanie Loves Chachi), Martin and Gina (Martin), and Rachel and Ross (Friends). . . . The fact that she’s not there does stink, but she has not stopped working since leaving The Game. I know the fans were looking forward to having her and I back together. But . . . the show must go on.”
Based on what Hall told Atlanta Black Star, the on-screen couple’s departure after season five may not have been entirely by choice. “T and I were looking forward to continuing our journey to get to that happy place . . . Then unexpectedly they went with a different direction. That’s their prerogative, and they felt that was the best direction for the show. . . . T and I were brought back to where we could kind of close up our chapter, in a sense.”
If there’s anything we can infer from all this, it’s that either Mowry wasn’t asked to return for the reboot or she was too busy with other projects to sign on. Like Hall said, Mowry has had no shortage of TV roles since The Game closed up shop. She’s currently starring in Netflix’s series Family Reunion and is a regular fixture on the Hallmark and Lifetime holiday-movie circuit. It’s entirely possible she simply couldn’t fit filming The Game into her schedule.
Whatever the case may be, it sounds like Mowry would be down to return to the show if the stars aligned. As of right now, though, she won’t be back when The Game lands on Paramount+ on Nov. 11.