Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TV PILOT REVIEW: ABC's "Suburgatory"

In this unorthodox family comedy, single dad George (Jeremy Sisto from "Law & Order") decides to move his Tomboyish daughter Tessa (Jane Levy from "Shameless") from New York to suburbia to shelter her from sex, drugs, and the Village. The plot follows that old wives' tale that the city is the Devil's playground. I think we all know by now (after 8 seasons of "Desperate Housewives") that that may be true, but suburbia is his backyard.
When they arrive in their new home, they realize they stick out like sore thumbs. Their neighbors are almost as plastic as their lawn ornaments, they're ultra interested in George because he's single, and they're eager to lobotomize, I mean, initiate Tessa into their sorority of subservience. In whatever state of mind they exist in, girls should wear skirts that are an inch below their vajayjay, their bedrooms should be some shade of pink, they should always have makeup on, and they should always be conscious of a potential bachelor in their vicinity. School and self-respect take a backseat to style and social standing.

But mocking the lunacy that heavily coats suburban superficiality is not the whole point of the series. The series is suppose to be an examination of a father-daughter relationship. How does a father raise a girl on his own? And, most interestingly, how does she think he's doing? The show has a narration that's like "My So Called Life" meets "Daria," where we get to hear all of Tessa's snarky comments about everything she's being subjected to.

But sprinkled between her acts of rebellion and moments of desperation are heartwarming scenes like when the seemingly inappropriate neighbor Dallas Royce (Cheryl Hines from "Curb Your Enthusiasm") gives her her first real bra. That's traditionally a bonding moment between mother and daughter that is rarely if ever properly executed between father and daughter, so it was sweet to see her get to have that moment. Plus, it was proof that George made the right decision by moving her to a more girl-friendly location. However, the comedy will be in watching them both wrestle with what kind of girl is a product of such an aesthetically-obsessed environment.

So far, the comedy is decent and the acting is on par with your average sitcom. Depending on plot development, I give it a season.

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