30 May 2017

The inside track on the lives of athlete’s wives

Drama, catfights, cheating, catfights, drugs, side-chicks and more catfights! Being married to an athlete isn’t easy. Just ask the Wags (wives and girlfriends) from dramedy series The Game (2006-2015; the first three seasons are now available on Showmax).

They’re trying to keep it together at home while their husbands rake in the cash and win titles on the sport field.

“What’s great about the show is it’s not really slapstickey,” explains Brittany Daniel, who plays athlete-wife Kelly Pitts in Seasons 1 to 3. “It’s an interesting take on a comedy. There’s drama. It’s got a lot of good drama and as an actor, that’s so much fun. I’ve really grown from my character.”

Co-star Tia Mowry-Hardrict adds that “these women have to find their own identities. A lot of women dating men with high status leave their identities. They’re the mom. They’re the cook. And they think that’s all they’re good for. Well, we’re not!”

And she’s speaking from experience. She’s a businesswoman, mother, wife and academic, and her cousin is a professional NFL player. “I looked at what he went through and goes through. It gave me an inside track on what it’s like being the significant other to an athlete,” Tia says.

It’s a crazy kind of life. Yes, there’s jewellery, mansions, flashy cars, exclusive parties – but that’s for the cameras. There’s loads going on behind the scenes … and a lot of it is hard to swallow if you’re the Wag.

Here’s what The Game taught us about the reality of being married to a pro athlete.

Moaning men

If you thought that man flu was bad, wait until you hear pro NFL football stars complaining about injuries. “I can’t train. I can’t run. I can’t brush my teeth. What am I good for? Huh?” That’s the kind of whinging and whining that the wives (and viewers) have to put up with when athletes like Derwin Davis (Pooch Hall, aka Daryll Donovan in crime drama Ray Donovan; the first three seasons are on Showmax) get sidelined.

Slating sisterhood

“You don’t belong here” – that’s pretty much the sentiment from Season 1, episode 1, when it comes to the wives versus the girlfriends. And just because the ladies are wearing designer fashion, have perfect manicures and sport impossibly perfect hair doesn’t mean they’re not afraid to throw a punch. Remember, these women have been with their men through thick and thin, they’ve come from nothing to having everything. You can take the wife out the rough parts of town, but you can’t take the rough parts of town out the wife. Plus, to the wives, a girlfriend is just a passing fancy – it’s only legit when you’ve got bling on that finger, baby!

Work, work, work

In Season 1, episode 11, Kelly has her hands full. She’s got to keep her star player hubby Jason (Coby Bell) happy. She’s got to take care of their daughter Brittany. And she’s got to please the in-laws, who are in town for a visit. And what happens when someone pushes themselves too hard, too quickly? Breakdown! Mental, emotional and physical! Luckily Jason’s got heaps of cash and can bring in the right doctors to help her.

Side-chick shocker

Doctor Melanie Barnett (Tia Mowry-Hardrict) has a nasty surprise coming as Season 1 winds down. Her boyfriend Derwin has been stepping out on her with a pop star, who’s now a full-on stalker who phones Derwin non-stop. If only Melanie hadn’t given up her career for him, which is where the next issue comes in …

Helping hands and hot potatoes

In Season 1, episode 17, Melanie helps a fellow Wag who’s been used and abused by her athlete boyfriend. Mel opens her heart and home and takes the woman in, only to realise that she could be in the very same position – she depends on Derwin because she chose to be a Wag and give up her independence.

Will she put her foot down and be her own boss, or will she rely on Derwin for putting a roof over her head and diamonds on her fingers, knowing there’s always a chance he’ll drop her like a hot potato?

“I love Melanie because she’s a woman, a tough woman. She’s an adult. She goes through a lot of experiences that bold women go through,” says Tia. “I would like to use this [learning curve] and take it and maybe be there will be one day [where I’ll know what decision to make in a difficult situation].”

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