Tag Archives: comedy

WATCHING: Suburgatory

15 Dec

Watching: Suburgatory
Why you should be watching: Culture, Comedy, Genre-Blending

(Photo Credit)

I promised myself I was going to do this week’s watching post about a movie, but I couldn’t resist. I’ve become so addicted to Suburgatory. Created Emily Kapnek, ABC’s fledgling sitcom has me cracking up. Every week. I thought it would be funny based on the trailer, but it surpassed my expectations.

The show chronicles the adventures of Tessa (Jane Levy) a fifteen-year-old high schooler who is uprooted from Manhattan, and moved to the fictional affluent suburb, by her father, George, played by Jeremy Sisto (who you may remember as Elton from Clueless!!). After finding a box of condoms in Tessa’s room, single dad George decided its time for a change.

Neither one of them knew exactly what they were getting into.


Everyone and everything is Chatswin is expected to fall into one mold, so much so that it’s almost like the town and everyone in it is one giant organism. Everyone drives the same kind of car, wears the same kinds of clothes, and has similar homes. Parents are obsessed with staying young and hot, and depending on who they are, they want to either be the cool parents, or the best, or some fusion of both.

The point is, once the writer’s immerse you in the Red Bull-swilling, perfect-lawn-having, country-club -going culture of Chatswin, you are there. Sure, the writers play on stereotypes and draw on other works (The Stepford Wives, Mean Girls) but even when you know what kind of people to expect in Chatswin, you never know what’s going to happen, especially as square-peg Tessa struggles to forge a life for herself in this round-hole world.


There are lots of different types of comedy, and different types work for different people. For example, I really love the quick-paced, super-witty comedic style of Gilmore Girls, but sometimes I enjoy the darker, bleaker kind of comedy like you might find in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And Suburgatory doesn’t exactly fit into either of those. Suburgatory relies on timing, great one-liners and and the wonderful thing that is that feeling you get when you’re like: “Did she really just say that?”

The entire cast is brilliant, whether they get to crack the jokes, or play the straight man. Cheryl Hines plays the sweet, if silly Dallas, mother to high school queen bee Dahlia. And she is seriously wonderful. Then there’s crazy-stupid Dahlia (Carly Chaikin, of The Last Song) herself. Check out these two in the clips below.


Lastly, Suburgatory does what any great show/movie/book does. The writers do a really great job of blending genres. Just as you’re cracking up, the show slides right into a sweet moment. It’s emotional without being schmaltzy, and funny without being over the top. It’s clear that George and Tessa love one another, though they may struggle with forging along without Tessa’s rarely-mentioned mother.

In the first episode, Dallas takes Tessa shopping so that she can better assimilate to life in Chatswin. She walks on her in the changing room to see Tessa in this God-awful very functional sports bra. At the end of the episode, she brings her a lacy pink bra, simply because she knows Tessa doesn’t have anyone else in her life to do it for her. That Dallas can go from saying things like “Oh, I don’t eat in public,” to bringing Tessa’s favorite band to her sixteenth birthday party, really highlights that the show and its writers are paying attention to life, not just genre.

BONUS: If you haven’t been watching, you’ll love Tessa. She’s feisty, funny and bold!

So what do you think? Do you watch Suburgatory? Do you crack up every week? Plan on waching it now? Let me know!