Home Sweet Home?
‘Juno’ really started a fad a several years back by increasing the popularity of the smart-talking, quirky, confident female protagonist who rebels against the norm. I am honestly surprised a television show has not replicated this type of heroine with moderate success until ‘Suburgatory’. Unlike ‘Juno’, the smart-talking, quirky confident female protagonist who rebels against the norm is not the best selling point of the program, but it’s a good gateway to an overall fun experience below the surface.
‘Suburgatory’ airs Wednesday at 8:30 on ABC. The basic premise of the show follows city-dwellers Tessa and her single father George as they move to the suburbs after he finds a box of condoms in her bedroom. On the surface, the presented suburb is a perfect community, providing a safe and comforting place to raise a child, but deep down it is alien-like world where every child is coddled and spoiled with no true expression allowed. Tessa is a typical urban teenager and the social ecosystem of the suburbs confuses her to no end. Unlike shows like ‘Desperate Housewives’ that satirize suburban life, ‘Suburgatory’ more often than not critiques the stereotypes of the suburbs instead.
Hooray! Another narrated show!
‘Suburgatory’ stars Jane Levy (‘Shameless’) as Tess and Jeremy Sisto (‘Law & Order’) as George. The show is rounded out by an often more hilarious, but less heart-felt, supporting cast including Cheryl Hines (‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’) and Alan Tudyk (‘Firefly’). Each episode follows Tess and George’s interactions with the exaggerated stereotypes that exist in the suburbs. Sometimes these exaggerations are funny, but it is when the characters really shed a layer and prove that they are more than just their image that the show truly becomes hilarious.
A frequent source of the comedy in the show is in Tessa’s narrations. It is not as sharp as the narrations in the movie ‘Easy A’ (which this show owes a ton of credit to), and sometimes falls flat on its face with its attempts to pretend to be a smarter show than it is. The narrations work best when they are simply used for Tessa to illustrate dissatisfaction at her surroundings than as a way to move the plot forward.
And the PTA Report says…
Tessa’s narration may at first glance seem like the most apparent thing the show does to make it stand out as something different, but George is truly the stand out character of the cast. With any plot he is a part of, he is able to play the straight man well enough to make it work. George is also the only character in a whacked out ensemble that has a bit of resemblance to a real person whom which the audience can relate. George’s relationship with Tessa is frequently the best part of the show and it shows one of the best meshes of a parental relationship and a close friendship that I have seen on TV.
‘Suburgatory’ is not a show that should jump to the top of your ‘to-view’ list. It is entertaining and consistent enough to merit viewing it if you are trying to kill time before ‘Modern Family’ or ‘Happy Endings’. It is not as good as either of those shows in their prime, but it is still fresh and different enough that it may someday find its groove and become ‘must-watch TV’.
My Rating: 6/10