ABC's new comedy hit taken from real suburban angst
January 4th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

ABC's new comedy hit taken from real suburban angst

The sleeper comedy hit "Suburgatory," with its cushy timeslot between "The Middle" and "Modern Family," concerns father and daughter duo George and Tessa as they relocate from New York City to the suburban town of Chatswin. It's a move that takes a lot of adjustment, to say the least.

With its supporting cast being a who's-who-of-comedy (including Cheryl Hines; Alan Tudyk; "SNL's" Ana Gasteyer; and Chris Parnell), and memorable characters (Dalia is the poster child for the materialistic, self-involved teenager), it caught on with audiences and earned a full season pick-up last fall.

"Suburgatory" creator Emily Kapnek (who wrote for "Parks and Recreation" and created the Nickelodeon cartoon "As Told by Ginger") said that the title – for what was then only a book proposal – struck a chord with her right away.

"I talked [to ABC executives] about having grown up in Manhattan and moving up to Westchester, and from that the show sort of grew," Kapnek said.

Tessa's narration, she adds, is an important part of the show.

"The goal had always been to look at the suburbs and the world channeled through this narrator who would hopefully feel fresh and different from other characters we’ve seen on TV before," she said. "Her perspective, particularly in the pilot, was very much like mine when we landed in the suburbs. She may have even been more good-natured about it than I was."

Jane Levy, who plays Tessa, was a virtual unknown prior to starring in this show. "What made her right [when auditioning for the part] is that she has this very unaffected nature to her. Some of that is due to the fact that she hasn’t been doing this a million years," Kapnek explained. "She genuinely was fresh, and she had a different rhythm and a frankness that felt very special to us."

Wednesday night's new episode has Tessa facing off with Dalia, and Kapnek promises more juicy developments in the weeks to come.

"We have an upcoming episode where Tessa writes a poem about her mom that George takes out of context and starts questioning all the decisions he’s made as a parent," she said.

"At the same time, Dallas [Hines] is going through her own sort of upheaval, and there is a lot going on between the two of them [George and Dallas] and their marriages past and present."

Plus, Tessa's best friends, Lisa and Malik, might also get together. "There's a lot of romance in the air in Chatswin."


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