BET’s latest series Games People Play is adding a sexy element to its growing lineup of drama series.
Adapted from Angela Burt-Murray’s bestselling novel Games Divas Play and executive produced by Tracey Edmonds, Games People Play is a dramatized Basketball Wives with a charming ensemble of interconnected characters that’ll draw you into the world of deceit, murder and making it in Hollywood, by any means necessary.
The hour-long premiere follows well-educated, soft-spirited Vanessa King, played by Lauren London, whose dreams to become a high-powered attorney are sidelined when her high school sweetheart turned hubby is drafted to a pro-basketball team in L.A. Her man, Marques King, played by Sarunas Jackson, dives headfirst into the life of a rookie, particularly indulging in groupie love.
In the opening scene, the attractive power couple, bruised and battered, is questioned at a police station about an audio recorded violent assault. Through flashbacks, it’s revealed that Vanessa caught Marques sleeping with another woman and handed the mistress a beatdown. Due to the Kings’ united front in public, their lies hold up against the police and the press. But in private, his constant infidelity begins to erode their marriage and lands them in the gossip rags once again with the help of a clout-chasing, struggling actress named Laila (Parker McKenna Posey).
Lesson unlearned, Marques continues to mount his trouble by way of his homeboy Kareem Johnson, played by Jackie Long. Johnson, an around the way Los Angeles dude and former basketball star, just wants his shot at everything Marques has but makes some underhanded deals to do it, one of which puts Vanessa in harm’s way.
Amid the feeling that she’s losing her “King” and her struggle to transition to the basketball wife lifestyle, Vanessa leans on her best friend and soror Nia (Karen Obilom), an ambitious editor whose job is to capture salacious, viral content. Nia earns a promotion after going undercover alongside her assistant-slash-kiki partner MJ (Kendall Kyndall) to catch an LGBTQ-condemning preacher in a Fifty Shades of Grey-like sex club. But when Nia secures another exclusive with Laila that could shatter her best friend’s world but level up her career, she grapples with professional ladder climbing versus loyalty to her friend.
Within the first 15 minutes, it’s clear the story is unevenly paced to possibly develop the foundation of the characters rather quickly. Still, for fans of the famously dimpled London and Jackson (especially while we wait until 2020 for more Dro on Insecure), the small-screen newcomer will be an enjoyable Tuesday night watch. Not to mention: quick cameos from Lori Harvey, who plays a selfie-addicted version of herself, and Hollywood Unlocked founder Jason Lee sweeten the watch and indicate there may be some surprising guest appearances in future episodes a la The Game.
It’s much too early to tell if this will gain similar popularity as the network’s other growing faves. However, after the suspenseful ending of the first episode, it’s safe to assume folks will tune in next week to find out what actually went down.
Catch the Games People Play premiere on Tuesday, April 23 at 10 p.m. ET.
Photo by BET