Actor Tim Jo explains why his role on ABC’s The Neighbors isn’t such a stretch for him.
by Ada Tseng
Tim Jo admits he always wanted to be on an alien show.
“I’m a total nerd. I watched everything from Mork & Mindy to ALF and 3rd Rock from the Sun,” the Korean American actor says, naming some of the classic alien shows from the 1980s and ’90s.
Now add The Neighbors to that list. On the freshman ABC sitcom, created by Dan Fogelman, Jo plays Reggie Jackson, the teenage son of the leader of an alien neighborhood in the gated community of Hidden Hills, N.J., where the Weavers, an all-American human family (with the parents played by Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito), unwittingly decide to buy their first house. It turns out that the aliens, from the planet Zabvronia, have been inhabiting Hidden Hills for a decade, awaiting instructions from back home, and the Weavers are the first humans to live among them. Zabvornian community leader Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) and his wife Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) end up latching onto the Weavers, hoping they will be their guides to understanding the human race. In turn, the Weavers also learn from the aliens’ way of life—like how they sleep in green pods, cry with their ears and read books for sustenance (hence, their refrigerator is full of books).
Jo, 28, is not only thrilled to play an alien, but says it doesn’t feel like that much of a stretch for him. Having spent his formative years living in his native Texas, he moved overseas to Poland where work took his petroleum engineer father and his family for three years. There, Jo got used to being the token Asian boy, which helped the actor instantly connect with The Neighbors premise.
“I had a mother who was always making friends with neighbors,” Jo recalls. “She’d always bring Korean food to our neighbors, and we were constantly sharing: ‘Here’s my culture. What’s your culture?’ It’s always been like that for me: moving around, finding new cultures. “I hope this show resonates with minorities,” he adds. “I feel so fortunate that I’m on a show that’s about two different cultures coming together. It’s a melting pot comedy about growing up in America.”