I have to say, I have really been enjoying ABC’s Suburgatory. It is an especially nice fit with Happy Endings.
First, there is the strong cast. You have Jeremy Sisto as the struggling single father who has moved out to the Suburbs from the Big City to improve life for his daughter. Sisto plays this role well, imbuing the father simultaneously with thoughtfulness and befuddlement. Cheryl Hines is the Desperate Housewife (Jay Mohr has appeared once so far as her ever out of town husband). She manages to play shallow and well meaning at the same time, rather deftly. All those years playing Larry David’s suffering wife have paid off. Alan Tudyk (Most recently of Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, but most beloved for his role of Wash on Firefly and Serenity) is the shallow, money and status obsessed college friend who is “helping” Sisto navigate his new Suburban life. Also present is Ana Gasteyer who plays a wonderfully unhinged neighbor (Allie Grant is solid as her unpopular status challenged daughter) and Rex Lee (Lloyd from Entourage) as a guidance counselor who is content to keep his connection to his students light and trouble free.
The glue to the series is definitely Jane Levy as Tessa Altman. She has the heavy load of the show reallybeing about her trying to survive a world she never wanted to be a part of. Snarky, yet thoughtful Levy brings a real likeability to a character that could, frankly have gone very wrong. She is the voice of reason and reality in a plastic bubble world.
Frankly, such characters run the risk of been painfully preachy, but the writers often present her detached and frustrated nature as something to overcome. She is learning lessons, not simply slamming the superficiality of the suburbs. Granted, the fictional suburbs look nothing like what I grew up in. I am prone to thinking this is not meant to be “reality”, But rather that we are seeing everything skewed through Tessa and her father’s lense.
All in all, I am finding the show funny and quite entertaining, and hope they get picked up for a second season to expand on things and find the footing that most first seasons lack. There is the typical discovery o who characters are that goes on in a first season, and the second season often lets a show’s team really breathe (See Community, Parks and Rec, Friends, Seinfeld-which really did not get it’s footing until the fourth season, etc).