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TV Series Review

People don't get to know their neighbors as well as they used to. Typically, we don't chit-chat over the back fence or knock on the door asking for sugar. And that, my friends, is a shame.

'Course, it could be worse. You could have Dave and Gemma Johnson living next door to you. And that might make you long for the days when neighborhood interactions were sequestered to a friendly wave.

Odd Couples

It's not that Dave and Gemma aren't nice. In fact, they're so nice that you'd think they came from an old Care Bear episode—or at the very least from Canada. And indeed, they used to live close to our neighbors to the north: Michigan, to be precise, and apparently the happiest, most friendly corner of the state that can be found.

Thing is, their new neighborhood in Los Angeles isn't quite used to all that aggressive Midwestern congeniality.

Then, of course, there's this: The Johnsons are white—as white as a couple can apparently be. The neighborhood they're moving into is predominantly black. Some residents look at the Johnsons' moving truck and initially said, "Well, there goes the neighborhood."

Calvin Butler was among those doubters at first. When the Johnsons moved in right next door, his wife, Tina, and sons Malcom and Marty welcomed Dave and Gemma despite their strange ways. But Calvin initially wasn't so sure about the pale presence across the property boundary. And frankly, he still has days when Dave's relentless, chipper gregariousness rattles his nerves. Whole weeks, maybe.

But even he must acknowledge that the Johnsons are good people and that they add something special to the neighborhood. And Dave and Gemma are slowly learning how to fit in a little better, too.

Ring That Doorbell

CBS's The Neighborhood offers a newish twist on the age-old, fish-out-of-water sitcom, wherein someone moves into a neighborhood where they don't quite belong. We saw it way back when with The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, even The Munsters—all of which, interestingly enough, aired on CBS back in the day.

This CBS sitcom isn't quite as original as those shows, trying to be both more conventional and more culturally relevant all at once. It gently pokes fun at our racial and cultural differences in a particularly sensitive time, drawing appropriate lessons where and when it can. That said, it doesn't seem to have grand aspirations to become a television classic or cultural touchstone—merely just filler on the network schedule as network television itself slips slowly into transitional irrelevancy.

Still, to whatever degree The Neighborhood is relevant, it plays reasonably well with others. It feels, in fact, like a sitcom we might've seen 20 years ago, a mostly family-friendly offering from a bygone age. Language can be a bit of a problem. But for the most part, it still feels pretty clean. Which is great and, honestly, a bit unusual in these days of shows vying for eyeballs with ever-growing lists of content issues.

The Neighborhood, like all neighborhoods, isn't free from some problems. But it feels relatively safe—the sort of place where you could sit for a spell on the porch and drink a glass of lemonade. And that's more than we can say for many a television neighborhood.

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Episode Reviews

Nov. 19, 2018: "Welcome to Thanksgiving"



Readability Age Range





Cedric the Entertainer as Calvin; Max Greenfield as Dave; Sheaun McKinney as Malcolm; Marcel Spears as Marty; Hank Greenspan as Grover; Tichina Arnold as Tina; Beth Behrs as Gemma; Malik S as Trey






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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