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The Aliens Next Door


6 of 6

The Neighbors (2012)
The Neighbors

The Weavers in The Neighbors.


The Neighbors, created by Dan Fogelman (who wrote the screenplays for Tangled and Cars), is situated in a gated New Jersey townhouse community called Hidden Hills into which the Weavers, a Normal Family, have moved. Only after moving in do they discover that their neighbors are actually aliens from another planet with strange habits and abilities, stuck on Earth for 10 years.

What's interesting about this scenario is that the Weavers are, in a sense, the aliens: it's the extraterrestrials that are already established in this firmly circumscribed haven, and so in Hidden Hills their behavior is the norm, and the Weavers (note the name) are the intruders. This inversion of the concept of aliens-next-door is the basis for a whole string of dramatic series, from Beverly Hills 90210 (the original premise was normal midwestern teens dropped into the bizarre practices of SoCal rich kids) to The Gates (in which a cop and his family move to a gated community filled with werewolves and vampires).

What the various versions of the inverted form have in common is that the behavior of the aliens around them is so extreme and intense that it becomes impossible for the normal newcomers to maintain their normality; eventually, probably by the end of season 1, they metaphorically or literally become one of them, as thoroughly as Emma does in Once Upon a Time or the Walsh siblings in 90210. At that point the nature of the drama shifts rapidly away from this trope to the already-present elements of conflict within the community. This works well enough for drama, and allows a show to evolve and the characters to develop; but it also means that the inverted form of aliens-next-door can only be a first stage in the long arc of a series if it is to have any longevity.

In a comedy like The Neighbors, where the humor is predicated on how strange the aliens are even though the humans are the intruders, it's difficult to see where the series has to go in the long term. If the show is to survive, it must find more levels of humor than the contrast of human mundanity and the antics of a crop of aliens with funny names.

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  5. The Aliens Next Door - Exploring the Possibilities of Visitors from Outer Space Just across the Hedge

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