Suburgatory may not have run as many flashy ads as New Girl or have been as in your face as Whitney, but in terms of its actual content, this is one of the best sitcoms of the fall. We just hope that enough people watch it in order to give it a full season, if not more. Given its snug little timeslot between The Middle and Modern Family, it might just have a shot -- though on the other hand, that didn't help Better Together. But that series was terrible, and this one has charm and dry humor to spare.
The show is sort of an amalgam of Mean Girls, Easy A and Awkward. It takes a teenage girl, Tessa, and uproots her from her Manhattan life to place her in the wilds of suburbia. Her single father is unbelievably cool and dorky and overprotective, and the two exchange comfortable banter that feels very genuine -- their dynamic is easily one of the best things about the show. Where else are you going to see a parent and child bond over the various colors of vomit? Dad/George (Jeremy Sisto) decided to move them after panicking over discovering that his daughter had a box of unused condoms. Yes, a slight over-reaction, but the over-the-top premise is just the jumping off point for the show.
Once out of the city, Tessa discovers that suburban moms like gangsta rap, copious amounts of sugar-free Red Bull and all things pink and plastic. The biggest culprit is Dallas (Cheryl Hines), who has hired architect George to put a skylight in her daughter Dalia's (Carly Chaikin) bedroom, above her makeup-filled "creation station" and shoe closet. Dallas makes it her mission to help out Tessa by dressing her up like whore Barbie, figuring it is the fastest way to George's heart... or at least into his pants.
Word that George was single (his wife left when Tessa was little) traveled fast, especially to the country club set, where waitress/stalker Jocelyn not-subtly at all offers herself up on a platter. Thankfully, the well-mannered George declines, much to the dismay of his best pal Noah (Alan Tudyk), who loves the lifestyle as much as his perma-tan and was responsible for George picking this community to settle down in. Noah doesn't even bat an eye when an obliviously texting woman falls headfirst into a pool (happens all the time) and whole-heartedly approves of Tessa's skankier look.
On the high school front, Dalia is the queen mean girl, picking on Lisa (Allie Grant) and calling Tessa a lesbian -- repeatedly. For her part, Tessa has a quick comeback for all of the putdowns, like "You mean because I'm not dressed like I have a pole in my locker?" But Lisa's also got a popular brother, an overbearing nosy mother (Ana Gasteyer) and a demoralized spirit to contend with. The two outsiders have a tenuous bond, though Lisa worries an actual friendship could attract even more negative attention.
The Suburgatory pilot could easily have felt cookie-cutter and generic, but it somehow captured the feel of what high school might really be like for a new girl. And the show's not afraid of addressing the idea that there's more than a little something strange about everyone hanging out watering their lawns together all the time. It's poking fun at an exaggerated world, while delivering some refreshing comic relief.
We're completely smitten with the show's star, Jane Levy. She's a mini-Emma Stone who has perfected a look of disdain for the world around her. Sisto and Tudyk are solid and appealing, but the biggest surprise is Cheryl Hines. She's fantastic as the vapid, plastic mother who thinks that itty bitty skirts are too short and that sports bras are the devil incarnate She was great as Larry's downtrodden wife on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but she's really bizarrely suited to this cotton-candy pink world. She somehow makes lines like "I acted like a biznatch" work without sounding more ridiculous than intended. So if you haven't seen the premiere yet, give it a shot -- it's a far better suburb to spend your time in than Wisteria Lane. And if you need us, we'll be hanging out in the handicapped bathroom with Tessa and some juice boxes.
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