The Neighborhood Season 1, Episode 5 recap: The truths from game night

THE NEIGHBORHOOD -- Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS -- Acquired via CBS Press Express
THE NEIGHBORHOOD -- Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS -- Acquired via CBS Press Express /

The Neighborhood began with a game night. It led to a father and son talk between Malcolm and Calvin. Gemma also revealed a truth about herself.

What began as a friendly game night in The Neighborhood transpired into revelations about some of our characters. Taking my suggestion, the show dealt with relationships rather than strictly race. So what did we learn about the Butler and Johnson families?

Calvin Butler (Cedric the Entertainer) is ecstatic because it is Butler family game night. His enthusiasm wanes though when he learns Tina (Tichina Arnold) invited the Johnsons to join them. For a show about The Neighborhood, we only saw the Butler and Johnson families.

Regardless, Dave Johnson (Max Greenfield) loves board games. Yet nobody is familiar with any of his choices. Except this one.

After winning one game, Calvin is eager to win some more. He is competitive, and as we later learn, so is Malcolm (Sheaun McKinney). The two families settle on a game where players reveal truths about themselves.

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One question is, “Have you ever shop-lifted, and if so, what?” Dave reads an answer of “yes,” and Calvin immediately guesses Malcolm. Although Malcolm is unemployed, he says he never shop-lifted. Gemma (Beth Behrs) acknowledges she shop-lifted a Star Trek backpack when she was a child. To boot, she got away with it, and she still has the backpack!

The Butlers are not surprised she successfully stole the backpack. She is white, so security did not focus as much on her. Because the Butlers are black, security always follows them. Whenever Marty (Marcel Spears) shops, he has more security follow him than Twitter followers. The Johnsons are upset to learn about profiling.

Currently, Malcolm isn’t thrilled. He notes Calvin profiled him because he is an unemployed black man. Calvin doesn’t really respond, and Malcolm storms off. Dave feels bad.

Back in their own home, Gemma tells Grover (Hank Greenspan) she returned the backpack. She feels terrible about lying, and Dave doesn’t comfort her. She was young in the 90’s, comfort her telling her it was a mistake, and move on. Haven’t we all done something stupid, even if we didn’t shop-lift? Dave still feels bad about instigating the tension between Calvin and Malcolm.

The following day, he tries to apologize to Malcolm and Calvin, yet they both deny any hurt feelings. Dave then talks to Marty, who informs him both Malcolm and Calvin bury their respective feelings about their relationship ever since Malcolm quit baseball. Evidently, he had a chance to make the major leagues.

Dave later attempts to rectify the relationship between Calvin and Malcolm. Although Calvin dismisses the notion, Malcolm wants to talk. He and his father have a heart-to-heart conversation.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD — Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS — Acquired via CBS Press Express
THE NEIGHBORHOOD — Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS — Acquired via CBS Press Express /

Malcolm worked hard playing baseball yet he got hurt. Calvin points out Malcolm quit on life afterwards. Because of his fathers’ insults, Malcolm sometimes feels worthless. Calvin motivates him. Start trying in life again, and his snarky comments will cease. He also tells his son this.

Unfortunately, the heart-to-heart ends awkwardly with Dave eavesdropping. Seriously Dave, give them some privacy.

Meanwhile, Gemma embarks on returning her stolen backpack. She initially talks to the cashier, but naturally she can’t return a stolen item to a different store location 20 years later. Tina steps in to solve the situation, but the cashier blatantly discriminates against Tina, calling security. How the cashier still has a job is mind-boggling. Her racist actions should never be tolerated.

Upset, Gemma apologizes to Tina for how the cashier treated her. Unfortunately, that occurs regularly to Tina. So do something about it, just not what the two women do.

Tina waltzes into the store, naturally followed by security. Gemma sneakily returns the backpack, and the two ladies scurry away. In a recent article, the author sought more spotlight for Beth Behrs’ character Gemma. While I agree with the author, this storyline fails to right the wrong of shoplifting.

Instead, what could have happened in this storyline in The Neighborhood is Tina give Gemma a penance. Discipline Gemma similar to how Tina disciplined Malcolm and Marty when they were younger. Every parent disciplines their children differently. Is there a difference in how black people discipline their children compared to white people? I don’t know. The Neighborhood could have answered that question.

The Neighborhood ends with another game night, which is again won by Calvin. Not only can he be a jerk at times, he also is overly boastful. It was nice last week when Dave humbled Calvin. While he is a good man at heart, it would be nice to see him outwardly struggle with something.

I also hope Malcolm continues to grow. He talked to his father, now hopefully he will have the confidence to land a job and make something of himself.

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The Neighborhood airs Mondays at 8/7c on CBS.