September 29th, 2011
10:53 AM ET
If “Mean Girls” and “Easy A” had a network TV baby, it’d probably look something like “Suburgatory.”
ABC’s new comedy follows Manhattanite Tessa and her single dad George as they relocate from their city digs to the 'burbs after George finds an unopened box of condoms in his daughter's room. Tessa, whose own mom left as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, finds the surgically enhanced, Lady Gaga concert attending, mall trolling moms the most foreign.
Cue the oft-played joke of a pink sweater-and-pearls soccer mom rapping along to a song about being a gangsta. You’ve seen it before, but the deadpan delivery is what sells it in “Suburgatory.”
Tessa is another incarnation of the sarcastic teen outsider, but Jane Levy plays it with strong timing in this episode. "Law & Order's" Jeremy Sisto as her dad George wasn’t as impressive. But really, it’s the inhabitants of this caricature of a suburb who really provide the entertainment, such as the woman so engrossed in texting that she walks right into the country club's pool.
The line that followed, delivered by George’s friend Noah (Alan Tudyk) - the guy with the Nerf ball/sunkissed tan - came off more creepy than funny. “You’d be amazed how often that happens. But the good news is, because of the implants, nobody drowns! They’re completely buoyant! All of them!” Indeed, she floated - and was still texting.
The best of this Stepford-ish land are Dalia (Carly Chaikin), her mom Dallas (Cheryl Hines) and Tessa's picked-on classmate Lisa (Allie Grant), she of the well-played girl's bathroom freak-out.
Chaikin clearly studied Tina Fey's "Plastics," and props to her for never breaking her dead-eyed expression. She was enlisted to show Tessa around the high school with a tour that was cribbed from every city vs. suburbs storyline, but still elicited a laugh: "Glee club, bleachers…Nose job, nose job, nose job, nose job…diversity student, Malik.” And remember, kids: "Buddies are not your friends."
A trip to the junior’s section of the mall was like kryptonite for Tessa and her dad, but gave the curiously accented Dallas to give more comedic relief. In one of the best scenes, she takes one look at Tessa’s beige sports bra and immediately asks, “Who did this to you?!”
That scene devolved into Tessa warming up to Dallas just a hint after Dallas buys her a fancy bra, and thankfully the humor in this series isn’t reliant solely on the battle between the urbanites and the suburbanites. In fact, the urbanites have to do little more than stand around aghast as the suburbanites act out their stereotypes for laughs.
“Suburgatory” is a completely rehashed plot, but it’s still a funny one. As iReporters Kathi Cordsen and Marie Sager point out, even with its flaws, it works. Plus, I’m already partial to Lisa, so yes, I think I’ll give this a few more episodes.
What did you think of “Suburgatory”?
About this blog
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.