'The Neighborhood': Tichina Arnold and Cedric the Entertainer on Season 5, Their Hilarious Chemistry (Exclusive)

The Neighborhood is back for a fifth season. Veterans Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold continue to helm the CBS comedy. And with two new showrunners, there's a change in tone once again. Last season, the series showcased more serious themes throughout the half-hour comedy under the direction of Meg DeLoach. But with seasoned sitcom vets Mike Schiff and Bill Martin running things, the show has returned to its roots. While there are some continued serious elements, the meat of the show is all laughter.

PopCulture spoke with Cedric and Arnold about what to expect in its fifth season. Moreso, they dished on working alongside one another and how their chemistry off-screen translates on camera. 

PC: Congratulations on another season of The Neighborhood. Why do you guys think the show has been so successful and has lasted so many seasons in a world where shows come and go? You guys are also competing with reality TV and streaming?

CE: I think for us, the show really very early on just resonated with the world that we live in. The idea that we have to live within other cultures and be next to people. Gentrification was a thing that was going on really big at the time the show was developing. This idea that what would be traditionally African American neighborhoods were starting to be gentrified. So I think it resonated with people. But then the characters started to come to life. I think the comedy, everybody being true. It's some pretty TV archetypes there. I play very much a character that would be reminiscent of George Jefferson or James Evans, these hardcore Black men that represent Black families. And then you have this kind of quirky characters like Dave that comes in and kind of disarms you. So I think people resonate with that. Love it.

PC: One of the reasons I feel that the show works so well is because obviously of you and Tichina. Now you guys have both worked along some other amazing leading ladies and men, but there's something special about the chemistry that you guys share. What's your favorite part of working alongside one another?

TA: We honestly have fun. Cedric does things off camera that, unfortunately, the studio audience and the television audience can't see. So when you are looking at certain scenes, you are probably catching a moment of us laughing with each other literally seconds before—

PC: Before they say, "Action." 

TA: Yes. Because to me, what makes a great show is what happens off camera. And a lot of times, the good stuff that happens off camera is displayed on camera as well because we honestly are a neighborhood. We have a very multicultural set. We got all walks of life on our stage, and literally, we all get along. And not many shows can say that. 

We know each other's names, we care for each other. One of our crew guys, he just had a hip replacement. So every day I'm like, "How's your hip? How's your hip?" So we genuinely care for each other. And then having Cedric at the head, it's just, he's a lovely guy. He's an amazing human being. So when you have a great boss and when the head is right, the tail will follow. And so it's that situation, we're having a lot of fun.

PC: And there have been some significant changes as of late, regardless of how much fun you guys are having on set. There have been some changes behind the scenes, with showrunner changes. Your showrunner last season exited at the end of the season, and now you guys have two new showrunners. How has that impacted the overall arc going into its fifth season? And what do you feel have been the changes in storylines as the seasons have progressed?

CE: I think the real key is, of course, we all have been...luckily for us, most of the people on our screen are just crafty veterans and have been on successful shows. And so we understand that this is a part of the Hollywood makeup. There is a lot of transition from time to time that people get other opportunities, and they move on. And so the guys, Mike [Schiff] and Bill [Martin], who we have now are somebody who was with me – they did the last two seasons of my show The Soul Man. So it was a shorthand. They came in, we were guys, we worked together. Last year with Meg [DeLoach], I think it really allowed us – because she was a Black female, it allowed us to tackle some certain issues that were probably stronger, and it's kind of ideology toward what we want to talk about in our community.

And then with the guys this year, we're back to what it would be – what we feel is the kind idea that tells all-encompassing stories, and we just pull people in. And we just kind of regular folks out here just dealing with the issues and the circumstances that's right in front of us. And so we've just really been blessed to be able to find great people, find the kind of comradery that we need when we go to work, so that everything from top to bottom really kind of slows seamlessly. And again, people are just, Tichina, Max, Beth, you think about all have been on super successful shows and so we all bring that every day.

PC: How are you guys looking forward to what viewers will get to see this season? What are you guys the most excited about as far as how the show continues to grow? And how the audience's perception of it will be?

TA: Well, I have a career change. Tina goes from selling cupcakes to kids, but I don't want to say [too much]. I don't give away the storyline. But in this show, you get a chance to watch our characters evolve. And I think what I love about this show is that people are growing with us. I told them when we started, I said, "You know what? We're going to have a group of people that will stick with this show from beginning to end." And so a lot of times when I read the Twitter feed, it's people [who] know some of the script better than I do. I'm like, "What? I did that? We did that?" Sometimes you forget. But it's so refreshing to know that people are paying attention.

And then we're coming into people's homes and making them feel better. I mean, that's what it's all about. We are here to entertain, and we want to make sure that we're around for years to come. And being that we're going into our 100th episode this season, God is good. Here we are. We can make it to syndication. So that way, even long after we're off the air, people can still enjoy this show. So it means a lot.

The Neighborhood airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Our full interview with Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold is available at the top of this article.