In the same way that the new Netflix series Dear White People started as a Twitter account, and The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl was a YouTube hit that led Issa Rae to HBO, the UK saw its own version of the social media-to-screen success story. Back in 2010, a humble dating blog by four twentysomething male friends called Brothers With No Game became so popular that demand exceeded supply.
“Our very first blog post did very well in terms of numbers, went viral, we got featured on the radio, people were talking it about everywhere. So from our first blog post, the trajectory went up quickly, and we kind of stayed up, which was kind of a weird experience. We knew that people liked it, we knew that people tuned in, but we never thought of ourselves as ‘big.’” director/co-founder Paul Samuel tells Complex.
The guys had assumed aliases that they admit were “ridiculous” —Justin Credible, The Yak, Don Kwelu, and Maverick—but it offered a sense of anonymity that allowed them to sound off on topics usually discussed over happy hours and in barbershops. Posts like “4 Reasons Why Women Should Make The First Move & 4 Reasons Why Men Won’t Let Them" felt like an intimate conversation being had aloud.
“About a year into it we had received a lot of views from around the world, and there were people who were in the filmmaking industry that approached us and said, ‘You guys should make your content visual,’” says creative director/co-founder Leon Mayne.
The friends were intrigued by the idea, but weren’t exactly sure what shape it could take…until they came across Rae’s brainchild.
“We had watched a show (everybody obviously already knows) called Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl,” Mayne says. “It was doing really well at the time, and it was a serial, and it was great just seeing how the characters were evolving week after week—or month after month, I think she was releasing it—and we just thought maybe we should try and do one...we’ve got enough content, we have enough stories that we can kind of do it ourselves, and that’s kind of what made us push in that direction.”
With that, they pulled source material from their blog to create a scripted web series in June 2012, learning to produce and direct as they went. It manifested as a romcom that followed the personal and professional trials of friends Junior, Dorian, Marcus, and Theo. They tried to help each other sort through their issues, which was like the blind leading the blind. And they broke the fourth wall, which lured viewers into feeling privy to the inner workings of the male mind. Even though the four leads were black, Mayne says they realized they’d connected to other races and cultures when they saw their web series being discussed on an American program called Attack of the Show!
“Anthony Breznican, a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, and Baratunde Thurston, they were on this panel … and they actually reported on our show and basically did a review and said that it was very good. It was British, but it was something that resonated with everybody, and they were saying they didn’t understand why it wasn’t on BBC in the UK cuz they really enjoyed it.”
Samuel agrees. “It was just so ironic that, like Leon was saying, the guy who was saying this, he’s Jewish, and he gets it and he feels like it relates to him and it doesn’t feel like it’s exclusively a black thing. Which I guess is the first time that we kind of got that understanding that people outside of a black space enjoyed our content.”
And here’s where BWNG differs from ABG. While Rae just reached television in 2016 with the show Insecure, after years of stalled starts, BWNG made a quicker jump, which speaks to the dearth of diverse content in the UK. In 2014, TV channel London Live picked up BWNG for Season 2 and had the guys format the previous season for broadcast as well.
BWNG enjoyed an overwhelming critical reception, going on to win several awards in the UK and abroad, including six at the 2013 Los Angeles Web Series Festival. But it was the response from their peers that took them from a blog, to a show, to a movement.
“One thing that a lot of people have said to us is that we’ve been quite pioneering in what we’ve done in terms of bringing a show that has a predominantly black cast that’s showing UK people in a positive light and having a presentation of young professionals. And I think a lot of people who wanted to be in the industry have always wanted to do that,” Mayne says. “So we had a lot of people reach out to us and say that they wanted to create a show, or they wanted to write a show or produce and direct one. And I think off of the back of the success of Brothers With No Game, we were itching to do more.”
So when Season 2 ended, they launched a production collective and extended their platform to other creators. They populated their YouTube channel with new shows and unscripted content, making them better as curators and producers, but unfortunately leaving BWNG on a cliffhanger… for three years. However, the OG fans never stopped wondering what happened to Brothers With No Game and when it would be coming back. To our delight, a brand-new trailer for Season 3 was released May 1.
“I think naturally we’ve grown as writers, directors, producers, people, so naturally the cast and the characters will grow also,” Mayne says. “There’s a much more mature look into these guys’ lives. The game is no longer just women; the game is now life.”
With the trailer came a relaunched website and the announcement that the show would be a co-production on TracePlay, a new Video On Demand platform. So what can we expect as we return to the world of the Brothers With No Game?
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” Mayne says. “I don’t think there’s necessarily going to be like a super crazy story arc or anything like that; it’s more about having that sense of fun again that people enjoy from Seasons 1 and 2.”
The exact release date for Season 3 has not been announced, but you can watch the trailer below and get up to speed.