Cedric the Entertainer, who stars on the series and serves as an executive producer, came up with the idea for the episode titled “Welcome to the Conversation.”
“I wanted to open up the conversation about how there are still very much these spaces where the attitude of the majority is that these things are expected and they don’t even question it,” Cedric said in a recent phone interview. “The conversation is what happens when people in this culture try to act like there’s really not racism anymore.”
The freshman comedy, which already has been renewed for a second season, centers on Cedric’s character Calvin, a prickly and slightly racist neighborhood patriarch, who’s forced to open his mind when a friendly white guy from the Midwest moves his family to a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Max Greenfield co-stars as new neighbor Dave. Tichina Arnold, Beth Behrs, Sheaun McKinney, Marcel Spears and Hank Greenspan round out the main cast.
Cedric said for the season finale, he wanted to explore another aspect of racism.
“We discussed this idea of Calvin taking advantage of Dave’s white privilege and him not liking it,” he said. “We thought that was a more unique approach of talking about the subject matter, where one is aware of it and knows that it exists. The other person thinks that it doesn’t exist.”
He took the idea to The Neighborhood creator/executive producer Jim Reynolds, whose own experience of moving into a predominantly black community inspired the series.
Cedric wants to push the envelope even more next season, although he knows there are limits on network TV.
“We’re not HBO or anything,” he noted. “But they [CBS] do want the show to be interesting for America and to have a bit of an edge, so we plan on trying to up that ante in the second season.”
The Neighborhood Season 1 finale airs Monday, April 22 at 8/7c on CBS.