CBS’ ‘The Neighborhood’ shines light on a taboo narrative
Starring Max Greenfield, Beth Behrs and Cedric the Entertainer, ‘The Neighborhood’ brings out the comedy in what otherwise is a very sensitive topic.
With one of the best casts in the fall television lineup, ‘The Neighborhood’ is likely to be a hit. Starring Max Greenfield, Beth Behrs, Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold, ‘The Neighborhood’ is as funny as it is daring.
The series is loosely based on creator Jim Reynolds experience moving to Pasadena with his family in a predominantly African America neighborhood. ‘The Neighborhood’ follows Dave Johnson (Greenfield), his wife Gemma (Behrs) and their son after they move from Michigan to Southern California. Their African American neighbors Calvin Butler (played by Cedric), his wife Tina Butler (played by Tichina Arnold) and their two adult sons Malcolm and Marty (played by Sheaun McKinney and Marcel Spears, respectively) aren’t necessarily thrilled about their arrival.
After an awkward first meeting, the Butlers invite the Johnsons over for a barbecue, which of course turns out to be even more uncomfortable. The central theme of ‘The Neighborhood’ is essentially about creating a bridge between two worlds and finding similarities where most assume there aren’t any.
Cedric the Entertainer is perfectly cast as the patriarch of the Butler family and is also heavily involved behind the scenes in the writer's room. He is stubborn yet endearing and is, of course, hilarious with his mockery and over-generalizations. On the surface, Calvin seems like many characters we have seen on television before, however by the end of the pilot, we see many more layers to him that the series will continue to explore.
Greenfield was also made for the role of Dave, a neurotic yet oblivious white man with the best intentions. Sound familiar? It seems like just yesterday that Fox’s ‘New Girl’ was the hottest show on TV, and Greenfield’s character of Schmidt was a fan favorite. Is this character similar to Schmidt? Most definitely, but what’s wrong with that? Greenfield knows how to play these kinds of characters like the back of his hand, and it’s very likely TV fans will fall in love with Dave just as much as they did with Schmidt.
‘Martin’ alum Tichina Arnold knocked it out of the park and arguably gave the best performance as the matriarchy of the Butler family, Tina. Sheaun McKinney and Marcel Spears were also great, giving us some of the best lines in the episode.
‘2 Broke Girls’ alum Beth Behrs is also a great fit for her role in ‘The Neighborhood,' which again, is very similar to her pivotal role on ‘2 Broke Girls.’ It seems that Behrs works best off of another strong female lead, which is exactly the case in this series with Arnold’s character Tina. The chemistry between all of the actors was there, which is a very important part of the recipe to a great, long-lasting show.
‘The Neighborhood’ is going to be an interesting show because it’s dealing with a topic that people tend to shy away from. Are some of the line's offensive? Maybe, if you choose to take them that way. If you’re going to make a show about race relations, specifically about a white family moving into an African American neighborhood, then it needs to push the boundaries. The good thing is, ‘The Neighborhood’ does the perfect job of taking the jokes as far as they need to go, hopefully without offending too many people. In a society that is saturated with political correctness, ‘The Neighborhood’ is an endearing, honest and laugh out loud funny take on the old saying, “Can’t we all just get along?”
'The Neighborhood' is set to premiere on CBS on October 1st.