- Category: Interviews
- Created: Wednesday, 22 August 2018 09:10
- Published: Wednesday, 22 August 2018 09:10
- Written by Lupe R Haas
Audiences are about to meet Calvin played by Cedric the Entertainer on CBS’s new fall show “The Neighborhood.” Cedric the Entertainer’s character is a bit of an Archie Bunker of “All in the Family” meets George Jefferson from “The Jeffersons.” The show is shocking for a modern CBS show, and not your traditional sitcom. “The Neighborhood” explores reverse discrimination in that Calvin is prejudiced against his new white neighbors. Cedric addressed how his character will be viewed given today’s political climate, and whether he based it on anyone he knows.
The Neighborhood” starring Cedric the Entertainer, Tichina Arnold (“Martin”) and sitcom veterans “New Girl’s" Max Greenfield and “2 Broke Girls” Beth Behrs, reverses the idea of “The Jeffersons” in that a white family from the Midwest moves into a predominately working-class black neighborhood in Los Angeles.
The concept behind “The Neighborhood” is a direct result of the political rhetoric following the 2016 presidential election which emboldened closeted racists to express their feelings freely and in public. The new CBS show turns that on it’s head by making one of the black leads prejudice against white people. The term “racist” is thrown around liberally, and the white couple live in fear of being seen as that.
Can black people be racist? That is just one of the questions the show approaches with comedy. Calvin is the modern day George Jefferson with the temperament of Archie Bunker. Were those classic television personalities influences for his character? He certainly thought of those characters but he based it on his older uncles.
“The idea was the kind of cantankerous personality that believes that they’ve earned their life to be exactly what they want it to be at this time in their life,” he told CineMovie at the Television Critic’s Association CBS panel.
Cedric the Entertainer often questioned whether he was playing Calvin “too mean.” It was a concern for the show producers as well.
“In your mind, you just think you’re being honest and straightforward which is also a missing tool in the world. We’re so politically correct. We don’t say what we really want to say, and then we end up being overran by somebody or let someone push you in the wrong direction.”
“The Neighborhood” is Cedric’s first television sitcom as the lead, and he said yes to the series for a specific reason.
“As one of the major networks that was leading in comedies, it did NOT have strong diversity on its network. I kind of felt like, ‘man that was a missing component.'"
The comedian was working with CBS on other ideas but “The Neighborhood” was the “best opportunity” for him to shake things up on the network.
Cedric doesn’t hold back during his stand-up act, so a prime time television show is a different animal. Cedric does try to push the envelope on the show, but he admits he has to be reined in.
“They tell me because I’m like always going for it. They were trying to tell me stuff not to say up here today,” he said before coming on stage at the TCA’s.
“The Neighborhood” is definitely a throwback to classic CBS shows like “The Jeffersons,” but a modern day one. “The Neighborhood” premieres Monday, October 1.