"The Neighborhood" was never a great sitcom. But at one point, it showed signs of being a bold one. It debuted five years ago with a tantalizing premise: An upbeat Michigan couple, Dave and Gemma (Max Greenfield and Beth Behrs) move into a predominately Black neighborhood in Los Angeles, much to the chagrin of Calvin (Cedric the Entertainer), who worries that the white newcomers will spoil his utopia.

Early episodes touched on hot-button issues like interracial dating, Colin Kaepernick's kneeling and politically incorrect language. For the Season 3 premiere, which aired roughly six months after George Floyd's murder, the two families reacted differently to a case of police brutality.

But as the series approaches its 100th episode, attempts to be a platform for serious talk about race have all but vanished.

For the first third of its current season, the characters have dealt with Gemma's ex-rival popping into town, Dave learning how hard it is to perform "mom duties" and Calvin coaching Dave on how to get a raise at work, plot lines that could have been lifted from any sitcom over the past 50 years.

One of the few times that race came up was when a new white resident mistakes Calvin for a gardener, a slight he brushes off as if she just parked too close to the curb. Later in that episode, he bonds quickly with a Vietnamese grandmother after she introduces him to pho.

During a virtual news conference last month, Cedric said the show was originally inspired by Norman Lear classics like "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons." But he and the other executive producers began stepping away from that model as early as the second season.

"Eventually, it just made sense to kind of lean toward the friendship if we wanted to tell a funnier show. This is a situational comedy. We are not here to argue each week or have everybody stand on their soapboxes," he said. "Now it's just really fun people, watching them be on the show together. We don't really care about the racial dynamics or anything anymore. We are just like, 'They are friends.' I love it."

The strategy seems to have worked. "Neighborhood," which airs 7 p.m. Mondays on WCCO, Ch. 4, has already been renewed for a sixth season.

"We are survivors," said Tichina Arnold, who plays Calvin's wife. "We are here five seasons later and still coming into people's homes and making you feel better."

Shows less concerned about making you feel better have a hard time roping in the kind of mass viewership required to stay on a network. "The Carmichael Show," the NBC sitcom created by Jerrod Carmichael before he was big enough to host the Golden Globes, was brimming with ambition, tackling the kinds of issues usually reserved for cable and streaming services. It was canceled after 32 episodes.

When race became an issue during the 2021 season of "The Bachelor," ABC had an opportunity to educate audiences about the Antebellum South and the power of insensitive language. Instead, the network fired host Chris Harrison and turned contestant Rachael Kirkconnell into a soap-opera villain.

Even when "The Neighborhood" did acknowledge racial tension, it pulled its punches. Calvin was never really a reverse version of Archie Bunker. He was just grumpy. Any misunderstandings or cultural differences were almost always resolved by the closing credits.

Once it was an established hit, "The Neighborhood" could have gotten more daring, an approach adopted by "Will & Grace."

Instead, "The Neighborhood" has chosen to teach us nothing — except that we're all too willing to embrace mediocre television.