Teen ditches the city in amusing sitcom ‘Suburgatory’
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org September 27, 2011 4:26PM
Teenage Tessa (Jane Levy) and her single dad (Jeremy Sisto) adjust to life on the clean streets on "Suburgatory."
7:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays on WLS-Channel 7
Updated: September 27, 2011 4:26PM
When George Altman finds a box of condoms in 16-year-old daughter Tessa’s drawer, the single dad decides it’s time to bail on the big city and head for the child-friendly confines of the suburbs.
Tessa thinks a better name for their new home is “Suburgatory,” since it feels like a soulless prison, except the jail bars are made of white picket fence posts.
Her new ’hood is full of spoiled young rhinoplasty patients who get chauffeured between school and the shopping mall by their big-haired, bigger-boobed moms.
“Pretty ironic that a box full of rubbers landed me in a town full of plastic,” says Tessa, played by a delightfully dry-witted Jane Levy (“Shameless”).
“Suburgatory” aims its satirical arrow at towns that smugly populate those “Best Places to Raise a Family” lists. It paints a world where horny moms water their manicured lawns with Stepfordian perfection and cook pot-roast dinners their anorexic daughters won’t eat. It’s a place where a friendly black kid named Malique, a k a “the diversity student,” is the only anomaly in an otherwise lily-white student body that subsists on sugar-free Red Bull.
Sometimes the tone of the show feels a bit too farcical; cue the country club scene where an “eye humping” waitress hits on George (Jeremy Sisto, “Law & Order”). And some stereotypes about suburbia — nosy neighbors, mall worship — are a bit overused. But on the whole, “Suburgatory” delivers more hits than misses, largely thanks to its cast.
Sisto and Levy have a comfortable rapport as father and daughter, even when they’re being passive-aggressive with each other.
Levy’s nemesis Carly Chaikin (as Dalia) should patent her teenage I’m-so-bored-I-might-die look. And Chaikin’s misguided but well-meaning mom is played to perfection by Cheryl Hines (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), who’s proof that “sometimes, under a pair of giant synthetic breasts, you can find a giant, non-synthetic heart.”