Art is imitating life in Season 6 of CBS’ The Neighborhood, with Monday’s premiere revealing that Calvin and Tina’s son Marty (played by Marcel Spears) is going to be a father.
The mother, Courtney (A Black Lady Sketch Show’s Skye Townsend), is loosely based on Spears’ real-life girlfriend Sarah Francis Jones, who recently went into labor with their first daughter — Nola Renai Spears — while in attendance at Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour.
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Courtney, we’re told, is an MIT grad who worked with Marty at JPL. Marty and Courtney had a fling before Marty recruited his former colleague to come work at the Fuse Box — the electric vehicle repair shop that he and Calvin opened in Season 5 — and shortly thereafter, he discovers that Courtney is pregnant with his child.
“[Moving forward] there are so many questions that arise — including, simply, what do you call people? What do you call each other? What are Tina and Calvin to Courtney?” co-showrunner Mike Schiff previews. “Calvin and Tina are… the parents of the man who impregnated her. We don’t have words in our language, or at least not easy words, to describe that dynamic, and they’re all trying to figure out how this is going to work.”
For Courtney and Marty, “there are a lot of different ways to be a couple and to have a baby these days,” fellow EP Bill Martin tells TVLine. “But for Tina, there’s one way to become a grandmother and this is not it. So, it takes a much bigger toll on her than it does on Marty,” which is something The Neighborhood will continue to explore during this strikes-shortened, 10-episode season.
Below, Spears talks to TVLine about his real-life entry into parenthood, and what’s ahead for Marty and Courtney as they prepare to welcome their first child into the world.
TVLINE | Take me back to the night of the Beyoncé show. I’ve seen the Instagram post, but I can only imagine the excitement, the nerves, the adrenaline….
It was honestly… it was insane. This pregnancy was super unexpected. When I found out that Sarah was pregnant, I was starting a Broadway show [in New York] called Fat Ham. So, for the entire pregnancy, I was in New York, and we were trying to figure out how we were going to co-parent, because neither one of us had planned for pregnancy at this time. This baby is now coming, and suddenly I go from being young and single to going to be a [first-time] father. Obviously, I’m old enough to be a dad, but I just didn’t see that any time in the near future for me. It was a huge learning curve.
Come September, this baby is about to arrive. At this point, I’d read every single parenting book I could get my hands on. I was completely immersed in anything dad, baby, birthing… My girlfriend is a Black woman, so I’m also super cautious because Black women have higher mortality rates during pregnancy. It’s my first child, I’m freaking out, super meticulous about everything… and Beyoncé is coming to town.
Beyoncé is Beyoncé — she’s one of the biggest stars of our damn time — and it would be offensive for [us] to miss seeing her in person. We go to the doctor, we talk to the doctors, and they’re like, ‘You’re all good to go to the concert. It’s actually good to get [Sarah] moving around.’ We have our C-section scheduled, we’re like a week out, everything’s good. We go to this concert to enjoy ourselves, sort of like a last hurrah before we lock down and get ready for this baby, and while we’re at the concert, Sarah starts going into contractions.
We thought it was Braxton Hicks because she’d been experiencing some Braxton Hicks before. It’s par for the course at this stage of pregnancy. So, we know what’s happening, we’re trying to keep her comfortable, getting her water… I have video of different contractions where she had to sit down, we had to stand her off to the side… all this stuff. We finished the concert because, again, we don’t know that she’s in labor, and we’re not going to miss Beyoncé and [special guest Kendrick] Lamar! Are you kidding? It’s Beyoncé’s birthday concert! We’re going to finish the concert!
As we’re leaving the stadium, there’s a big, long ramp you have to walk up to exit from floor level. So, we walk, we walk, we walk… I suspect all of this walking also helped bring Nola to her arriving point. We’re heading home and [Sarah] is feeling a lot of pressure. She’s Trinidadian Canadian, a West Indian woman, and in her mind, tea and ginger ale fixes everything. So, we get home, we go inside and she says, ‘I’m going to get some tea…’ and then she has a huge contraction.
We turn right back around, hop in the car, fly down to the hospital, freaking out. I’m driving as safely and as fast as I possibly can. We get to the hospital, we get her checked in, and the doctor says, ‘Yeah, this baby is coming. So glad you got here.’ And then she labors all night. It slows down a bit. Nola is taking her time. And then the next day — late morning, early afternoon — Nola was born. So, we didn’t have a baby on Beyoncé’s birthday — which, honestly, I think would have been too much pressure on this kid.
TVLINE | Unlike Marcel and Sarah, Marty and Courtney are not romantic in the traditional sense. How is Marty, who grew up in a quote-unquote traditional family, reckoning with that now that there’s a baby on the way?
Much like me, Marty comes from a traditional family, and Marty’s plan was to have the traditional family — first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby. Because Marty desires a family [of his own], he immediately goes into family mode… but his partner [in this] isn’t traditional. She isn’t ready to jump into a marriage if there isn’t love there, and they haven’t explored that… so, he and Courtney make a pact to be really great parents and figure out the rest as they go.
The Neighborhood: What’s Ahead in Season 6
What did you think of The Neighborhood’s Season 6 opener? Grade it via the following poll, then click through the attached list for scoop on what’s to come.
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