Single father George only wants the best for his 16-year-old daughter, Tessa. So when he finds a box of condoms on her nightstand, he moves them out of their apartment in New York City to a house in the suburbs. But all Tessa sees is the horror of over-manicured lawns and plastic Franken-moms. Being in the ‘burbs can be hell, but it also may just bring Tessa and George closer than they’ve ever been.
Tessa (Jane Levy) and George (Jeremy Sisto) have been on their own ever since Tessa’s mom pulled a “Kramer vs. Kramer” before she was even potty trained. So far, George has done a pretty good job of raising Tessa without a maternal figure in their lives, but suddenly he’s feeling a little out of his league. So it’s goodbye New York City and hello suburbs. At first Tessa is horrified by the big-haired, fake-boobed mothers and their sugar-free Red Bull-chugging kids. But little by little she and her dad begin finding a way to survive on the clean streets of the ‘burbs. Sure, the neighbors might smother you with love while their kids stare daggers at your back, but underneath all that plastic and caffeine, they’re really not half bad. And they do make a tasty pot roast. – ABC
Score: 80 out of 100
There are some shows that we know are going to be a complete piece of $#*!-My-Dad-Says before ever seeing one episode, such as Whitney, for example, and then there are some shows that we know are going to be a complete piece of $#*!-My-Dad-Says before ever seeing one episode but then they pleasantly surprise the complete $#*!-My-Dad-Says out of us by turning out to be actually very funny. Suburgatory would be the latter and so far is the best new comedy we’ve seen this year.
We generally approach television, especially comedies, from the position of that it’s rare to find both a show that’s well-written and unique at the same time, so we’ll take well-written over unique any day of the week if it’s an either/or scenario. That’s what we have with Suburgatory; a show that’s not unique at all but is very well-written…. and flippin’ hilarious.
Seriously, how many times has the teen-angst story about the kid who gets abruptly uprooted from the city and goes to the suburbs (or the farm or vice versa) been done? We can’t count, but we can tell you is that the writers of Suburgatory seems quite aware of how clichéd it is so instead fighting it, they’re just going to run with it to as much excess as humanly possible while keeping the show heartwarming and credible at the same time.
Tessa has a sarcastic streak a mile wide which at first comes off as a little annoying but then you quickly realize how vulnerable she is and she’s just as screwed up and susceptible to human frailties as the suburbanites she disdains. Tessa is played by newcomer, Jane Levy, who’s only other professional work to date has been on the Showtime series, Shameless but despite her lack of a professional résumé, she is perfectly cast in this role and there’s no doubt that she has a bright future ahead of her regardless of what happens with Suburgatory (not to be negative, but after last season, we just assume all new shows will be canceled when we review them).
Aside from Levy, the casting on this show is fantastic. We’ve been a big fan of Jeremy Sisto since his work on Six Feet Under and of course Alan Tudyk is our favorite Firefly class pilot of all time and he’s just great in everything he does and then you have Saturday Night Live alums Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell and rounding it out is Rex Lee and Curb Your Enthusiam‘s Cheryl Hines. All incredible talents and even the less well-known names in the cast bring this pleasantly surprising show to life.
Suburgatory is an absolute caricature from head to toe. The adults are a caricature, the kids are a caricature, the neighborhoods are a caricature, the schools are a caricature, the suburban events such as the neighborhood barbecues are a caricature… Hell, the dogs are caricatures. It’s all one big exaggerated satire yet somehow they’ve found a way to still make these characters very real and very relatable and that’s why it works because it’s far funnier when absurd things happen to characters that we can relate to as the way the mind works is that we substitute ourselves for the characters and our response is based on what would it be like if that zany stuff happened to us.
Slapstick all the time, or absurdity for absurdity’s sake, really doesn’t work well on television. It works in Mel Brooks movies and cartoons, but not so much in live-action sitcoms week after week. This is why the show about nothing, Seinfeld, was the greatest comedy of all time and lasted for nine seasons. It’s because most of the time, our lives are a show about nothing and Seinfeld was able to capitalize on the most mundane events that we all have in common and turn them into pure comedy gold.
Now, are we suggesting that this show is the next Seinfeld? Not quite, and they aren’t even the same type of comedy, however, we will say that it is an absolute pleasure to watch this show and be so incredibly wrong with our initial assessment that we made in May.
Oh, and by the way, a note to ABC:
We here at The ‘Tastic humbly request that you fire whoever wrote that piece of $#*!-My-Dad-Says show description that we posted above and was so badly written that it almost made us not even watch the pilot. We can’t be the only ones who thought this after reading that garbage.
You can watch full episodes of Suburgatory, here.