“Cool Neighbors” cleverly examines the question that eventually plagues every thirtysomething: “When did I stop being cool?” The episode works so well because when we all point and laugh at the Brinkleys’ uncoolness, there are three fingers pointing right back at us, reminding us that it’s probably well past time we take that Mighty Mighty Bosstones cassette out of our tape decks and finally download the Warpaint CD. If we even know who Warpaint is.
Chris and Reagan realize they’re no longer the cool kids on the block the minute they lay eyes on their new neighbors: a young, attractive, leather-clad couple with a dog that’s even cooler than Chris could ever hope to be. Immediately, they desperately begin trying to prove to Mr. and Mrs. Awesome that they’re not just another pair of boring, suburban parents. And of course, every attempt at demonstrating their with-it-ness only further reveals their true dorkiness. Christina Applegate and Will Arnett are pitch-perfect here, particularly Arnett, who’s always done awkward exceptionally well. Chris’s uncool stripes are on display at all times, from his botched delivery of a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift (a bottle of “teqweela”) to his unfortunate musical taste (ranging from Juice Newton to Jamiroquai) to his annoying habit of “Like”-ing everything on Facebook (we all have that friend). His constant insistence that the majority of his likes are “ironic” fool no one, least of all his wife.
The Brinkleys finally have to make a conscious decision to cross the Ethan Hawkesque line in the sands of coolness when the neighbors’ party (which they skip to stay home with baby Amy – but if anyone asks, they were totally at the Radiohead concert) gets too loud, preventing Amy from sleeping. While calling in a complaint to the cops, the couple seems comfortable choosing their child’s well-being over their street cred…at least until Reagan overhears Chris giving the police his real name.
After slapping the phone out of Chris's hands, Reagan hatches a plan: they’ll call the babysitter (Nick Cannon, who is apparently available at all times), get dressed, go to the party and pretend that they’ve been there all night. The scheme hilariously backfires when the cops arrive and, at the request of cool husband, call the complainant to ask if he’d be OK with letting the party continue sans music. In a hilariously humiliating moment, the chic soiree is invaded by Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” the sound of which is quickly traced back to the cell phone inextricably jammed into the pocket of Chris’s too-tight jeans. Luckily, the Brinkleys aren’t immediately shunned as “those neighbors,” as the Awesomes reveal they’re soon-to-be parents themselves and are totally understanding about the situation. With a collective sigh of relief, Chris and Reagan are able to end the exhausting cool kid charade. And Reagan finally lets down her guard long enough to get caught singing along to that terrible Train song. Ironically, of course.
* The B-plot about Ava freaking out because she thought Amy didn’t like her had its cute moments, but it never really gelled with the rest of the episode.
* I hope cool twentysomethings watching this don’t come away thinking that all thirtysomethings secretly like Train.
* Some of Chris’s likes include Lipitor and Crystal Light. LIKE.
* Best line of the night: “Peace in the Middle East!...I don’t know what I’m saying.” (Chris, trying and failing to retain a shred of coolness on his way out of the party.)
*Other great quotes:
Chris: “That dog makes every other dog in this neighborhood look like garbage.”
Chris: “That’s ironic.”
Reagan: “IS IT?”
Chris (wearing a Huey Lewis and the News shirt): “It’s ironic.”
Reagan: "But you love Huey Lewis and the News."
Chris: "But they don’t know that!"