Certain shows lend themselves to television recaps. There are those programs that are replete with subtle themes and internal mythology that are ripe for the internet scrutinizing.
There are those ill-conceived dramas that aim for gravitas and elicit mirth by face-plant. (For example, I am so fucking excited for the next episode of 666 Park Avenue.) Then there's a show like The Neighbors, which io9 commenter TheGreatApe succinctly assessed as such last week:
There's something sort of harmless about this show. To hate it would be like hating your neighbour's ugly dog who wags its tail at you and gives a happy "woof" when it sees you leave the house. It's a rotten looking thing, but it's just so damn friendly. You'd feel bad for it if you hated it, but you'll never love it.
And indeed, The Neighbors doesn't want our hearts, just our televisions activated and plugged into the wall. I'm guessing the production staff just needs to fend off cancellation long enough so that the show seeps into the audience's system, Toxoplasma gondii style. "Oh, The Neighbors is on," we'll absentmindedly mutter, and return to eating our Wednesday tureens of paste.
Yes, The Neighbors wants to inoculate us with familiarity. To do so, it's relying on an entire crib sheet of sitcom formulas. Such as, "Women + Shopping - Father's Understanding = Guffaws" or "Incessant Arguing = Actually A Secret Sign These People Love Each Other = Chortles." It doesn't have to try very hard, and it damn well knows it.
This week, the alien family experienced culture shock when they visited a New Jersey mall. For every amusing gag or idea this aliens-in-suburbia show lobs out — see: the plot of District 9 as an intentionally clunky metaphor for mother-daughter bonding, Doug "Abe Sapien" Jones' alien getting mowed down by a car — it follows up with a jökulhlaup of tired tropes and fish-out-of-water jokes that are too boring to get riled up about. You just let the jokes wash over you like the asphyxiating embrace of the ocean tide. Is The Neighbors the Anti-Life Equation? Unclear as of press time.
You don't yell at the birds for chirping. Chiding The Neighbors for being a rote sitcom seems equally futile. I haven't felt existential dread like this in years.