In the fish-out-of-water tale Suburgatory for ABC, Jeremy Sisto is the proverbial fish. Well, and his on-screen daughter Jane Levy is, too, but we’ll get to her in a bit. Sisto is a big city architect who picks up his whole life and moves to the suburbs and once he gets there realizes he may be in a bit over his head. But thankfully he has a long-time friend (played by Alan Tudyk) to turn to for a little help and support. Tudyk is Noah, a buttoned-up, upper middle class husband, father, and country club member who relishes in the suburban life. He is the comic opposite of George, and funnily enough, quite the opposite to how fans of Tudyk’s might remember him best from TV.
“For Firefly fans, I think that the cool thing about everyone on Serenity was we were anti-establishment, you know?” Tudyk offered when LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with him on location in Los Angeles for Suburgatory.
“We were flying against the alliance and the establishment. ‘Screw them; we operate outside of the law!’ I am very much establishment; my character, Noah, invests in the establishment, believes in suburbia, believes in the America of suburban life– of cushy seats and I don’t know what else [but] it’s the protected world of suburbia. You’re paying for protection, a safety; there’s an exchange there; life gets pretty homogenized; this world is pretty homogenized. Noah really likes to have a controlled environment, whereas in Firefly or Serenity, there was no control, and we liked it that way!”
Noah is George’s way into this new society, and in many ways he is his greatest “pusher,” as well: “I’m sort of his liaison to this world as somebody he knew before– from college– and he comes to solicit advice from me. I don’t always have the best advice, but yeah. We just did an episode where you get a sense of who we were in college, and it’s great; I like where that’s going. You get deeper and deeper in our relationship…I think in every episode I have some word to say about [his differences]. It’s just my view of the world. My buddy’s sitting around, and it’s ‘No, that isn’t how it is, man! I’ve got a plan!’ I’ve always got a plan or an idea; I tell him what he’s doing wrong; I encourage him to enjoy his life.”
But the bromance between Noah and George isn’t entirely smooth sailing, and their differences will, in fact, get between them at least once or twice, Tudyk shared. While Noah is focused on argyle sweater vests and his Porsche, George is trying to design homes in a neighborhood where all of the houses, and the women, look the same. Needless to say George moves in and turns heads. Many of the single neighborhood women begin to fawn all over him, trying to raise his daughter for (or with?) him, and ultimately he and his older friend have to find a way to relate to each other now, years later, and after their lives have veered off on two different courses.
“We get mad at each other; we have a falling out,” Tudyk previewed an early episode. “And when we’re making up, I say ‘I feel like people used to make fun of you for hanging out with me.’ And he’s like ‘Yeah, but I feel like people make fun of you for hanging out with me here.’ It’s that thing where you’re in high school and in college, and there’s a certain balance to the social world and to your class status, and as you get older, it all just changes– especially when we get families. If Facebook has taught us nothing, it’s taught us that!”
For Tudyk, who actually did grow up in the suburbs and who does actually have some friends who never left that way of life, suburbia may be slightly elevated from the rest of society, but he doesn’t see that as a bad thing. It’s a different world, truly, in the suburbs, but being filled with such quirky (and colorful!) characters allows for some insanely comedic situations that will often catch viewers, as well as the actors themselves, off-guard.
“I get suburbia in little bits and pieces, and it’s just shocking, but I think it’s just getting older. I’ll meet some woman in a Christmas sweater with hair like my mom’s and she’ll be like ‘It’s me!’ And I’ll be like ‘I…used to masturbate to you. Holy shit, how dare you do that to yourself! What have you done?’ You know, it’s a different speed; it’s a different life,” Tudyk laughed.
The establishment of Suburgatory also means that everybody knows everybody else’s business. Although this particular series isn’t about secrets, deception, or darkness that may lurk behind closed doors of cookie-cutter families, these are people who have lived among each other for years and years and therefore have history of which the new kids on the block are not yet aware. For Tudyk and Noah, that history will present itself with Dallas (Cheryl Hines). Tudyk shared the two have been in scenes together, but they really don’t have much to say to each other, and within the first few episodes we will learn exactly why and what went down. And we have to admit we can’t wait to see what kind of passive aggressive antics his wife (United States of Tara’s Gillian Vigman) gets into with her because of it!
Suburgatory airs on Wednesday nights at 8:30pm on ABC.
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