Tessa Altman (played by Jane Levy) is raised by her single father, George (Jeremy Sisto), in the urban jungle of New York City, until he finds a pack of condoms hidden in her room. Soon enough, Tessa finds herself being uprooted and moved to suburbia where her satirical comedy hilariously narrates her life. Surrounded by what she perceives to be a bunch of robots with professionally whitened teeth, Tessa is in Suburgatory.
Suburgatory caught my attention from the first promo, in which a suburban mother tells her daughter that her mini skirt is too long. As intriguing as it sounded, I was hesitant to commit myself to a season of yet another Mean–Girls-in-series-form; the I-think-I’m-better-than-everyone-because-I-choose-to-be-different-but-secretly-wants-to-be-popular female lead, the plastic mean girl, and the male love interest are overdone; even writing about those characters is tiring. However, as I surrendered myself to the television, I began to notice that maybe this story had a different message.
As many teenage sitcoms use the suburbs as a backdrop, Suburgatory uses it as a plot line. The unspecified area’s shiny pink exterior is examined by the writers. When a “crime” (a doll collection is stolen) is committed in the town and suspects are being accused, the one black student in the high school stands up and says, “It wasn’t me,” which is the writers commentary on the heightened stereotyping in suburbia. All Tessa wants is something real — something not fresh-out-of-the-suburban-cookie-cutter. Her character, though a bit cynical at times, struggles with the fake reality. One may think that the lifestyle described in the show is exaggerated, and they would be right, but it does raise an interesting question as to the realness of suburbia here inWestport.
George Altman, a born New Yorker also raises an interesting perspective on the perceived life of suburbia when he says, “These people are our neighbors, we’re supposed to look out for each other, isn’t that the whole reason people live in the suburbs?” That concept is a peculiar one, yet the idea of the family with 2.5 kids is somehow comforting and safe to people. Suburgatory explores this with a bit of a comical twist, and that’s what makes the show so much more interesting than the average teenage sitcom. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pretty Little Liars as much as the next girl, but Suburgatory’s fresh and scathing take on an idyllic possibility is truly unique.