On the surface, Alex and Pete could not be more different. The recently divorced Alex is a hard-working, high-strung lawyer who is raising her 10-year-old daughter, Charlie, as a single mom... See full summary »
A familiar TV universe viewed from a slightly off-kilter angle
The well-off American suburbs have been the settings for countless American sitcoms, and it indeed seems highly unlikely that anything new can be gleaned from another show about uptight, over-concerned parents and their bored, over-privileged and frustrated offspring. "Suburgatory" however, manages to look at a well-worn setting and familiar situations with a modestly surprising and slightly warped view of suburban life.
While it has that hip quirkiness and cool, detached irony that's prevalent in many sitcoms these days, there's also a darker and even slightly somber edge to it's point-of-view that makes it, at least most of the time, stand out from it's many peers. Instead of starting out in gilded suburban hell, it starts out in downtown Manhattan, where George Altman (an unusually gentle Jeremy Sisto) "accidently" comes across a box of condoms in his daughter Tessa(Jane Levy, with a wide-eyed deadpan style that recalls a more demure Emma Stone)'s room, for which he decides that the city isn't the proper enviorment for her and moves her to the considerably less stimulating suburb of Chatswin. Tessa is understandably not thrilled by the idea.
So this time around, Suburban life is viewed from the mind of an outsider, instead of a lifelong setting for a bored and impetuous teen, where it's not part of her identity and it's pointedly mundane lifestyle looks plenty weird and just a bit formidable to her instead.
In turn this show is not so much a slice-of-life but instead a bit larger-than-life, where an Alice figure is entering a certain Wonderland that isn't particularly thrilling but where everything seems more than a bit off-kilter compared to what she's been used to, especially the overly-conformist citizens and where every possible chink in the town's armor just seems to be non-existent to all the status-obsessed adults who influence Chatswin just a bit too much.
While the show has had some early growing pains, it has way more potential, even though it's not certain it will ever get the chance to grow and improve. It's got an unusually level-headed and warm view of a modern single-father/daughter relationship, even if Jeremy Sisto does sometimes seem more like a big brother to Jane Levy than her parent. And yes, often the dialog that is spoken doesn't seem like something any real person would utter in normal settings, but "Suburgatory" isn't going for naturalism. It's going for satire, a black comedy that attempts to make all the banal situations we've come to expect in suburban-set shows seem all the more funny and just plain weird when it's viewed by somebody who's not used to them. Is it Condescending? A bit, but it remains unsparing when showing it's outsider hero and heroine's personal shortcomings as well.
Time will tell if this is given another shot, but at this point is has perhaps the greatest potential of any network show on the air.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?