Adolescent love, present and past, was last night’s theme on The Neighbors. The episode was funny, sweet and simple, all elements that worked to make one of the best ones of the season. Read along as I analyse what was so good about it and why I don’t regret that I gave this show a chance in the first place.
Every generation has had their alien sitcom. The 60s had My Favorite Martian, the 70’s Mork & Mindy, the 80s Alf, and the 90s 3rd Rock. However, our generation hadn’t had a chance yet to laugh at quirky space creatures smart enough to travel space, but so clueless that they couldn’t figure out human life. At least we hadn’t until now. Why is it that alien sitcoms work, though? It’s because of the metaphor. It lets us inspect our customs and rituals from an outsider view, realizing how utterly stupid yet meaningful they are. Plus, clueless is always hilarious. I mean, there was great show called that for a reason.
The Neighbors brings those elements to the table in a really particular and hilarious manner and, quite simply, it works. The Bird-Kersees can be villainous and endearing alike, but they never fail to provide humour. The Weavers are also fun because they aren’t particularly smart, or cool or important to be the kind of people to be in direct contact with aliens. Yet, by chance they are and it’s fun because it’s relatable. Of course, though, the show struggled at first. Such a high-concept sitcom takes some time to find its ground. After all they only have 30 minutes a week of screen time. Still, after only 3 episodes the show was already making me roar with laughter thanks to Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s Real Housewives skit. And since then, it’s got me as a fan every week.
The thirteenth episode, “Dream Weaver” was one that reminded me of the reason I like the show so much, and thus it made me love the episode alike. Why? During the first half of the season I felt like there were way to many holiday episodes. They were great ones, but I was afraid the show couldn’t have the same impact without deep-fried turkeys or Halloween-ween candy. However, this week was one that centred on a basic topic: love, and it was better than all those holiday specials together. That’s when I realized, the best episodes were the simplest ones. “Juan of the Dead” was deliciously weird, “Things Just Got Real” was, like I said, the reason I kept watching, and “50 Shades of Green” got away with so many racy jokes hidden between alien quirks, that it was hilarious. This all gives me hope for next season and the coming eps, because it made me realize that humans have got so many rituals besides holidays, and they can all be made fun of in a sweet way, just like “Dream Weaver” did.
Now, I’ve spoken a lot about how I liked the episode, but what was so good about it? For once, it showed enough story development to move the season forward. First, Reggie Jackson and Amber Weaver’s will they/won’t they relationship was (at least temporarily) solved. It was very lovely they way they did it too. Reggie got inspired by Debbie and Marty’s story of how they met at a school dance, and decided to recreate it with Amber since he thought that was the way all humans found their soul mates. That plan involved bringing a fake date to leave alone at the dance, and so he picked up Giselle (like the model except totally different). Giselle was probably the only student quirkier than Reggie and she spent most of her days sitting in her candle-lit closet or talking to her turtle. After Amber confuses Reggie’s attempt at telling her loved her with him coming out, things take a turn and Reggie ends up moving on and trying to get to know Giselle. That story ends with a sweet line coming from the girl, who says she spends most of her life caring for a green creature hidden in a shell, a line Reggie can relate to. I have a feeling that Amber being Amber is gonna want a shot at Reggie now that she can’t have him, but I really hope they give us a chance to see more of Giselle and our favourite Asian-looking Zabvronian, cause they’re sweet together, and she was very funny with the few screentime she got.
The other story development we saw was mostly character development for Larry Bird, but it was also cute. Jackie Joyner-Kersee was inspired by the Weaver’s story and, since Zabvronians don’t have to struggle to win over their mate, she wanted a will they/won’t they story of her own. Larry, though, being his traditional self, wasn’t about to go try an unnecessary experience of struggle for love when he already had it. So, the dance happened and he made Jackie feel like he was a jackass who didn’t care for her wants. Until we realized it was a very long con to make her feel they wouldn’t make it, but then prove her wrong by giving her the corsage and kiss she wanted.
One thing I think The Neighbors did mostly perfectly is casting, and especially with the casting of Larry and Jackie, they did an excellent job. Larry Bird could come across as an annoying idiot most of the time, but Simon Templeman makes a great job at getting us to like him. Jackie, as well, could seem simply silly, but Toks Olagundoye gives all her lines the precise tone and facial expressions to make me laugh almost every time she speaks. Last night, that acting contributed greatly at me loving Larry’s development. What was that? He has always seemed unwilling to partake in human rituals unless when its his last resort, but yesterday he showed he is willing to do anything for his wife, even if he feels stupid doing it. He probably wouldn’t have done things the same way at the beginning of the show. Now he not only does it without much arguing, but he also does it well. Maybe the Bird-Kersees are actually becoming a bit more human as the Weavers become a bit more alien, and I like that. It speaks lots as a metaphor of the cultural merging society faces nowadays, especially in America, and how it’s easier to learn from others than reject them for what they are.
Finally, Marty and Debbie’s story was about her realizing their love tale wasn’t as magical as she thought, but making the most of it cause, after all, it was the one that got them together. It was very sweet again because Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito are perfect for the parts. They have enough chemistry to make me ship them, but also they bring a great comedic value to their parts and a sort of “that could be me” feel to them.
So, to try and summarize it all, “Dream Weaver” was a great episode for The Nieghbors, and not only because it had their name on the title. It was sweet, funny and simple, yet effective. It let the story move forward a bit without letting it take away from the comedy part of it. It also wasn’t afraid to skip some characters and locations in order to give a good show and that worked. In conclusion, I loved it and hope there’s more like it. If the programme stays like this, it might survive for a second and even more seasons. As for me, I’ll definitely keep watching. How about you?
Luiz R. Ruiz – @Not_reallyLuis