The Neighbors is an American television science fiction sitcom airing on ABC, premiering in the Fall 2012 season. The series, set in New Jersey, revolves around the Weavers, a dysfunctional family that has relocated to a gated townhouse community called "Hidden Hills". Everything seems very much like the perfect suburban community, except for one difference... everyone in Hidden Hills is an alien. Not as in "crossing the border" alien, but genuine Little Green Men aliens from the planet Zabvron. The Zabvronians have adopted as their own the names of sport celebrities, receive nourishment through their eyes and mind by reading books rather than eating, and cry out green goo from their ears. They've been stuck on Earth for 10 years, awaiting instructions to return home.As the first real humans in Hidden Hills, the Weavers end up trying to teach humanity to their alien neighbors, while learning how to be a better family of their own.Nothing to do with the Australian soap opera Neighbours, or with Regis Philbin's daytime game show. Compare to 3rd Rock from the Sun.note Which actually gets a Shout-Out in this series. Despite an initially rocky start, the show picked up enough positive reviews in the latter half of the first season to earn a second season. On Fridays. A fact which has not gone unnoticed by the show itself, as the Friday Night Death Slot trope is referenced several times in season two.
A meta-one. An early season two episode mentions Terms Of Endearment and how Marty doesn't understand why Debbie likes it. Later in the season, they unintentionally re-create a scene from the movie.
Another is the fact that Zabvronians watch the Weavers sleep.
In the first scene of the Christmas Episode, it's established that Zabvronians (or at least Larry) think that coffee cups can only be used by those that they reflect as the truth (i.e. Larry's "World's Greatest Father" mug). In the very next next scene Reggie hands Amber an "I'm with Stupid" mug.
The animal documentary.
In the first episode it's established that the Zabrovians gain nourishment by reading. Later, when Larry and Marty are hanging out, Marty is drinking a beer, and Larry is reading a book about mixed drinks.
Callback: The show is actually rather good about it's continuity, considering it's a sitcom. The fact that Max wants a doll for Christmas because she's hot is a callback to the fact that he's hitting puberty, a fact mentioned several times before in previous episodes. Likewise, Zabrvonian sense of smell comes up a few times.
Not strictly, but Jackie seems to get into a lot of situations where she has to use a variety of accents.
Both Marty and Larry can sing and play the guitar.
Can't Spit It Out: Initially Reggie to Amber. Then Amber in regards to Reggie. To be fair, this is a unusual situation in that the two of them are from entirely different planets.
Catch Phrase: George Takei gets in his "Ooooh my!" during his appearance on the show.
Celebrity Paradox: One wonders why the Zabvrons that look like George Takei and Mark Hamill aren't commented on by the humans. That said, since those humans know they're appearance changing aliens, it might not be as big a deal as it would seem.
Combined with the The Generation Gap and Immigrant Parents highlighting the matter, Reggie develops from a gawky outsider into a confident comfortable teenager over the course of season one as he settles into life on Earth/among humans. The What the Hell, Hero? mini-speech he gives to Amber at the end of season one is very clearly something he would have never done at the start of the series.
Larry goes from human isolationist and, to an extent, dismissive of human culture and technology, to enjoying and indulging in various aspects of human culture. Especially when it's similar to something he's done before such as warfare and subterfuge (April's Fools Day... in November) and politics (PTA meetings).
Civil War: Apparently Larry and Jackie met during an inter-galactic war. And as it turns out, Larry was on one side (the established Empire) and Jackie was a freedom fighter on the other side. The two of them faced off in battle and well... the rest is history.
The alien members of the gated community all dress identically. The main alien family may dress in a slight variation, but they still color-coordinate with the community and with each other.
The father-and-son and mother-and-daughter have always worn matching theme Halloween costumes, but this year the son decides to go out with his new school friends as a zombie and the daughter "goes slutty" by declaring that she and a neighbor boy will go as "hot doctor and slutty nurse." Due to the fact that the neighbor boy is a Cloud Cuckoolander alien, he assumes that he is supposed to be the slutty nurse.
Crop Circles: Jackie makes one of these in a field when she is upset.
Distracted by the Sexy: Reggie occasionally in regards to Jane. Though not so much because she's attractive by human terms (they're both aliens after all) but usually because she's being accompanied by or similar to something he actually wants. Generally lasts for the scene though as he's usually comes back to his senses and goes back to Amber.
Ditto Aliens: Played with. To Zabvronians, all humans look pretty similar. They differentiate the Weavers through smell.
End of Series Awareness: all over the place in "It Has Begun...". Ultimately averted though as the show was renewed for a second season.
Ensemble Cast: Any given episode might focus on the Weavers or the Bird-Kersees in equal measure. And more often than not, there will be a mix of alien and human in any storyline (Dick and Marty seem to be a common pairing).
Exact Words: Reggie asks Dick to sidekick him... so Dick side kicks him.
Larry: We came from outer space, and settled in New Jersey / We took names like Larry Bird and Jackie Joyner Kersee / Then the humans moved next duoor and started to test our limits / So sit right down, enjoy the show ... we'll be done in 30 minutes.
Fanservice: Jane tries to be this to Reggie, but Reggie generally wants nothing of it.
Friday Night Death Slot: Good news: ABC granted you a second season! Bad news: Guess which night you're moving to...
In the second season episode "The One With The Interspecies F-R-I-E-N-D-S"', a game of Taboo goes badly between the Weavers and Bird-Joyner Kersees.
Marty: Hey, why don't we all just watch some good old fashioned network TV?
Larry: On Friday night???!!! Bleech!!!
Interestingly three episodes later in We've Jumped the Shark (Tank) ! Larry gets obsessed with Shark Tank .... which airs on Friday Night.
Friend to All Living Things: Dick, at least in regards to insects. When the Birds and Weavers go camping, Dick spends the entire time covered in insects and everyone else uses him as living insect repellent.
The Generation Gap: A recurring theme in the series is how the older generation, alien and human alike, differ from the younger generation and how these differences are universal. Larry and Marty bond a lot over this sort of thing as do Jackie and Debbie.
When the show had its airing on Disney Channel, despite Bowlderization to cover up any swear, they still kept in somewhat risque things for the channel like the extremely gay stereotype alien at Thanksgiving (though somewhat killing the joke by censoring his elongated 'Bitches!') and Marty trying to calm Debbie down with some white wine.
"I don't play a lot of instruments so I don't know what a skin flute is."
In Good Debby Hunting Marty gives Debbie a Dick in a Box.
In a somewhat Fridge/Brick kind of way, Dick being attractive to insects when we learn that Zabvronians are plant based and the males carry the babies. Dick is about the age when he'd start going through puberty and insects help pollenate plants so...
In Good Debbie Hunting Amber explains to Larry and Jackie that Grease sends the wrong message when Sandy changes her whole being to get her man, then realizes she herself is doing the same thing.
Larry Can the lesbian express please hurry up?! I don't want to miss the trailers!
Lampshaded in the same episode when Larry and Jackie try to find 3rd and 4th best friends among the other Zabvronians only to realize that they have zero chemistry. Especially since they're all warriors rather than socializers.
Hidden Depths: Amber, insofar as she seems like your stereotypical snarky emo-teen but actually is more of a Deadpan Snarker in the vain of Daria than anything else.
Hollywood Nerd: Giselle, to a tee, at least in appearance. Interest-wise, she really is a nerd since she's capable of keeping up with Reggie who is an alien Omnidisciplinary Scientist from an advanced spacefaring society.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Larry refuses to get Dick an antfarm and won't listen to anyone saying otherwise... because he already got Dick an antfarm. To maintain the surprise, Larry is pretty mean even for him and he even gets in a reverse-What the Hell, Hero? speech to Debbie. It looks like he'll be a Karma Houdini when... during his reveal to Dick, Jackie rolls in the antfarm. Which prompts Dick to thank Jackie much to Larry's chagrin.
Hypocritical Humour: Larry's schtick at times, though usually due to differences between Zabvronian culture and human culture. For instance, Larry can pilot spaceships just fine... but is deathly afraid of driving a car. Other times, it flies the other way and Larry just needs to figure out the Zabvronian analog to a human tradition.
Larry: [The PTA president] has become your Butcher of Hope!
Immigrant Parents: One of the essential traits to the Zabvronians is this. Larry worries in one episode that Reggie and Dick will forget about Zabvron and their alien way of life.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A mild version in Larry and a lot of it comes from the combination of differing social norms and that he's the Supreme Leader of the Zabvronians on Earth.
Amber has her moments, too, particularly with her younger siblings.
Unsurprisingly, the two of them have a snarky respect for each other and have a lot in common. They even insult alike. One suspects that if they were closer in age and, you know, not completely different species, they'd probably be a match made in snark.
Joisey: But not the usual out-of-state view of the Garden State, but rather the native New Jerseyan's self-perception of NJ being a state of suburbia and weird, paranormal stuff ("Weird NJ"). To nobody's surprise, series creator Dan Fogelman is from River Vale in Bergen County.
Larry considers this his occupation, forcing Jackie to go out and bring in the bacon possibly for the whole alien community. He gets better though once Jackie and the Weavers call him out on it. That said, his comparatively limited knowledge of human culture combined with his natural impulse to take over tends to get in the way. At one point, he mistakes a real estate ad for a job posting until Jackie points it out.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Direct quote from Larry: "This is real life, kids. Itís not TV! We are a family of aliens living amongst humans and every week we tackle a new problem together, and learn that while we may be from different backgrounds, even planets, family dynamics are in fact universal. Itís real life, kids, itís not TV!"
Crosses over into Funny Background Event but when Larry, who is making a movie, comments that Dick keeps ruining his scenes by looking at the camera, Dick looks at the camera (the audience that is).
In the episode, "This Just Got Real", Jackie prepares for dinner with Debbie's friends from New Jersey by watching episodes of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Then, during dinner, after she makes a quip or insults one of the other women, she turns to the camera and comments on what she just said.
"It Has Begun" has Larry basically describe the structure of the current episode... right down to the time the show ends (9 PM EST). Later in the episode, when discussing his desire to stay on Earth to his father who wants to evacuate Hidden Hills, he measures the time in seasons before correcting himself into years.
"The One With Interspecies Friends" has a few and also crosses over into Shout-Out's. The title is a reference to Friends which also gets a reference in the opening ("Wait, Courtney Cox did something before Cougar Town?!") as well as a self-deprecating one when Marty suggests watching some network television ("[Watch network tv] on a Friday? Pfft!" - The Neighbors time slot being Fridays).
In the same episode, the narration of the animal documentary Amber and Reggie watch through out the episode also describes the events of the episode itself.
"Shark Tank airs on Friday on ABC after, Blah Blah Blah. The "Blah, blah, blah" being this show.
Debbie winks and grins at the camera just before the cut to black that leads into the intro song in the episode.
In "Thanksgiving is No Shmuck Bait", Jackie and Larry phrase holiday events in sitcom terms. When Jackie's parents show up unexpectedly Larry yells "Cut to commercial!" — which they do. Ath the end of the show Larry finds out his in-laws are staying after the holiday, Larry whimpers "Oh, my God it's a two-parter!"
Living Prop: All the other Zabvronian neighbors. Lampshaded when the Bird-Kersees talk to them to find additional friends only to realize that they all have zero personality.
Man Child: Larry can come across as this sometimes, especially once he becomes comfortable with human culture. It goes with the overall Hypocritical Humor aspect of the show since Dick, his youngest son, tends to act more like a parent and father than Larry does. Marty too on occasion.
Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Amber and Reggie's relationship and general personalities are like this. In their case, they mimic less the outwardly aspects of the trope and more the internal ones. Amber is emotionally private who has a certain sense of personal pride in that, Reggie is very flighty and is prone to hysterics.
Meaningful Name: Last name anyway. You have the obvious Bird/Weaver connection but there's also Bird itself since birds of a feather flock together and the Zabvronians are fairly close knit and, at least initially, isolationist.
Mistaken for Gay: Reggie gets this from Amber when he's about to tell her he likes her.
Monochrome Casting: Averted. Since Zabvronians don't understand how human race works, they picked bodies that were a sample of human variation. It's quite possibly the most ethnically diverse cast on American network television (not that that's difficult.)
Played with in one episode where a country club invites the Birds and the Weavers to join them. The Weavers are worried that the only reason the Birds are invited is because of their diversity.
Mood Whiplash: In "Larry Bird Presents an Oscar-Winning Film by Larry Bird", Larry Bird's movie wasn't footage of Max Weaver's attempt to win a spelling bee but an homage of an attempt by his son, Dick Butkus. It is a happy emotional event when it seems that Larry Bird learned something important about family when the tape cuts to footage from some log Larry Bird has been keeping on the Weavers, including on watching them sleep at night.
My Beloved Smother: Jackie in season two, though far less intrusive than most examples. For instance, she dislikes Jane and prefers Amber mostly because Jane would take Reggie half-way across the galaxy whereas Amber would mean Reggie stays on Earth.
Named After Somebody Famous: All the Zabvronians. They believed that humans worshiped athletes, and so took their names. Justified in that though the Zabvronians read a lot so you'd expect them to know better, they don't know how human literature works and so they ended picking up the literature that's mass printed and popular. Which means pop culture magazines and the like. Jackie's Zabvronian name is Debbie Callahan. Debbie Callahan is the name of the female cop from the Police Academy series. We also meet a Commander Bill who has no need for a human name either.
Name's the Same: Jackie's real Zabvronian name is Debbie. Human-Debbie was not aware of this until the season finale.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: In the early episodes, there were some Zabvronian abilities that are never brought up again such as the community's emotional state mirroring Larry's. That said, some powers like the shapeshifting are said to change after puberty, once a Zabvronian has matured into who they are.
One True Love: Played with. On one hand, zabvronians really do have soul mates. On the other hand, just because there is a perfect match doesn't mean someone actually wants that match.
Overly Long Name: Toks Olagundoye is actually short for Olatokunbo Susan Olasobunmi Abeke Olagundoye.
Poor Communication Kills: Larry's father has been trying to communicate with him for a while by sending messages on pieces of toast. Larry claims to have not gotten them, and this is true because he gave the toaster receiving it to the Webbers. Dick lampshades the problem with this method by calling it very inconvenient. Also counts as both a Callback and a Brick Joke since in previous episodes Larry expresses dislike of toasters and Dick is entranced by their new toaster.
Becomes a Cliffhanger when in the last scene Marty eats part of a message marked "Warning: Invasion Imminent!"
Real Men Wear Pink: Played with. When Max asks for a Princess Leia doll (emphasize on doll), Marty is worried at first... not that Max might be gay but rather that he won't have anything in common with Max. Marty winds up accepting that Max might have different tastes and standards and so buys Max an entire doll collection. Turns out, Max just wanted a Leia doll because she's hot.
Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Played with in Reggie and Dick. Reggie really is sensitive, but his Zabvronian upbringing means that he can be insensitive or oblivious to human emotions. Likewise, Dick is otherwise a very manly character (assertive, confident, etc)... except he's absolutely terrible at athletics by both human and zabvronian standards much to his mother's chagrin. In other cases, Dick comes across as a Renaissance Man or even Metrosexual - he's very empathetic to female motions, enjoys cooking and being paternal, and so forth.
She's Got Legs: Jackie. It's hard not to notice, given that her wardrobe seems to revolve entirely around short skirts.
Max - Have you seen her in shorts? I just hit puberty.
Shout-Out: In "I Believe I Can Drive", a random pair of Zabvronians drive by in one of their golf carts. The sound that plays is that of the ships from The Jetsons. In the same episode, Danica McKellar from The Wonder Years as an actress that Larry Bird feels could do anything. As it turns out, outside of acting Danica is a writer, mathematician, and scholar among other things.
The entire conversation between Grandfather (George Takei) and Commander Bill (Mark Hamill) is basically one big Shout-Out to their respective sci-fi franchises.
As the shows brand of comedy develops, more of their jokes tend to be references to other shows - from more recent shows like Cougar Town and Malibu Country to older ones like I Love Lucy.
Ah, Grease ...who would have guessed that a 30 year old movie set 50 years ago would have been so relevant today!
Max wants a Princess Leia doll for Christmas. Larry does it one step better. In itself shouting out to two of the movies when she says "Help me, Max Weaver, you're my only hope"; while at the same time wearing Leia's slave costume from the "Return of the Jedi".
Stepford Smiler: Jackie, at least insofar as she tries to model her human persona around. In practice, she's something like a Stepford Snarker - loving, loyal, supportive, and puts up with her husband's antics, but perfectly willing to call him out as needed.
Studio Audience: Inspired by a Nick@Nite holiday marathon, Jackie and Larry invite a studio audience to the Weavers Thanksgiving.
Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Played with. In some ways, Zabvron is an advanced alien society (they do have space ships after all and can communicate through toast). In other ways, Zabvron is a lot like any other society, regardless of technology level. There are quirky cultural traits, there are traditions from older times, and there are aspects that are simply bizarre to outsiders.
Theremin: Used as both a theme song and as background transition music. As of the second season the sting that served as an opening theme has been replaced by an actual theme song, but can still be heard within the show proper.
Running Gag: A minor one with the Bird-Kersee's refrigerator. Since they don't eat food the way they do, we see them use it for various related purposes - putting books in it in one episode, putting a fire extinguisher in it in another.
Take That: Starting in Season Two, the Zabrovians make several jabs at NBC's The Today Show after ABC's Good Morning America started beating its rival in the ratings.
Theme Tune Cameo: A recent episode that starts with Reggie thinking Amber is getting back together with him. Larry tries to alleviate the awkward silence by singing the opening theme.
Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Happens in "The One With Interspecies Friends". Amusingly, the two conversations are about how dissimilar the Weavers and Bird-Kersees are.
In "Any Friggin' Sunday"', Marty and Jackie quote a passage from the movie Any Given Sunday he to the men, she to the women (and Reggie).
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Amusingly, the reverse was true on Zabvron for Larry Bird and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Larry is rather distraught to learn that it's the other way around on Earth.
Also Debbie is substantially more attractive than Marty.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Abigail and Max. They're close enough in age that they're in full sibling rivalry mode, but when push comes to shove, they'll stick close. By the season one finale, Abigail and Max have become childhood Bash Brothers, being inseparable and often getting into hijinks with each other... with Dick becoming their Sitcom Arch-Nemesis (in some ways). But this also goes to show how close the children have become despite being different races. Larry and Marty flip between this and Heterosexual Life-Partners.
We Don't Suck Anymore: Ads for the show have taken to saying things like, "Critics are changing their minds about 'The Neighbors!"
Another ad for the show starts off saying "Here's what critics used to think about The Neighbors" and then showed a huge mass of negative reviews for the show. Then it says "Now here's what critics NOW think of The Neighbors" and then it shows all of the positive reviews the show recently got.
What the Hell, Hero?: Reggie gives Amber a minor one in "It Has Begun" for clearly being interested in Reggie yet never actually doing anything about it, resulting in Reggie constantly getting emotionally hurt.
Yandere: Giselle for Reggie. She is able to see through Amber's shell and knows she likes Reggie too and tells her clearly she will not Reggie go.