Up All Night: Life Is Hell with "Cool Neighbors"

For the record, the only people who like Huey Lewis are Chris Brinkley and Patrick Bateman.
For the record, the only people who like Huey Lewis are Chris Brinkley and Patrick Bateman.

When childless friends of mine ask me about having kids, I usually skip topics like lack of sleep (as inevitable as the tides) or childhood maladies (stock up on rash ointments, children's acetaminophen, and Neosporin) or that whole "bonding with your kids" thing, and go straight to the End of Your Life As You Know It talk.

Obviously your nights spent at Rudz or the Gallant Knight are (or should be) a thing of the past. But those 18 holes of golf that somehow always end up lasting eight hours? Done. Or perhaps you're fond of going to out-of-town/comic conventions? No more, unless you're willing to schlep your bundle of joy back to the hotel for naptime and skip the late-night cosplay contest. Big moviegoer are you? Adios to that, at least until the rugrat is old enough to sit quietly in one place for 90 minutes.

So, like, when they're 14.

Having kids may not necessarily make you "uncool" (though I remember the "cool" parents as the ones who left their liquor cabinets unlocked and never supervised their spoiled little shits, so maybe it isn't all it's cracked up to be). But don't tell that to Reagan and Chris. Having made their first transition back to normalcy (Reagan returning to work), they now have to deal with the dawning realization they're no longer very hip. Though as we discover during the course of the episode, they really weren't to begin with.

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For starters -- from the opening credits -- putting a crib together isn't that damn hard.

The arrival of Trent and...Mrs. Trent (sorry, I never caught her name) across the street causes a great deal of consternation for Reagan and Chris, who remarks: "Even their dog is cool. That dog makes every other dog in the neighborhood look like garbage."

Further agitation arrives in the form of their uncool neighbors, who appear to gift the new couple with a hot dog casserole. Desperate to one-up them and maintain their diminishing status, Chris runs over to leave a bottle of tequila and a note, only to be surprised by the lady of the house. Flustered, he mumbles about his gift of "te-kwee-lah" and hurries off. Fortunately, Trent is impressed with this show of generosity and invites them to his housewarming party that night. Disaster averted. For now.

I know it's not possible that negative feedback for Maya Rudolph's character got back to NBC this quickly, but Ava seemed much more subdued this time around. I liked how they portrayed her desperate need for attention from her show's fans as well as her Winfrey-esque solemnity when confronted with an enthusiastic member of her public, who confesses she never would have lost weight or discovered R&B without Ava. Substitute "Maya Angelou" for "R&B" and you've got Oprah.

The subplot that had her fretting over baby Amy hating her (babies, like dogs, can smell fear) wears out quickly. However, it's salvaged somewhat by Calvin, Ava's bandleader/DJ, who has an annoyingly effortless rapport with the child.

Reagan and Chris contemplate their growing lameness by comparing Facebook likes: She has none, he has thousands, including Lipitor and Crystal Light. She also managed to get a dig in at his enjoyment of Jamiroquai and Train, which he insists is ironic. Her reply: "Ironic is bad movies and malt liquor."

As someone who enjoys bad movies unironically, I'll leave that alone for now. But seriously, who likes Train?

They bail on the party, responsibly, because they're parents (the reason they give the Trents is that they're going to the Radiohead concert). As the party continues into the wee hours, keeping the baby up, they call the police, then decide to call a babysitter (Calvin, apparently available at the drop of a hat) and go across the street, pretending they've been there for hours. This goes about as well as expected (not to sound repetitive, but who acts drunk?), until the police finally show up and call Chris's phone, which he has foolishly left in the pocket of his skinny jeans. How do we know it's Chris's phone? His ringtone is Train's "Hey Soul Sister."

Isn't it ironic?

"Cool Neighbors" had more of a sitcom-y vibe than the season opener, which isn't unexpected. If Up All Night is going to have a crack at longevity, two things need to happen: 1) The show's writers have to downplay Arnett's usual weirdness and get more out of Applegate, who feels like the straight man more often than not, and 2) Reagan and Chris have to have another baby. Seriously, the sleep deprivation thing ends by the time they're two, at the latest. Unless NBC is planning on changing the name to "Up Some Nights, Like When the Kid Has a Cold Or a Stomach Bug," I guess.

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