Cast: Jeremy Sisto, Jane Levy, Carly Chalkin, Rex Lee, Allie Grant, Alan Tudyk, Cheryl Hines
Not many TV shows can be considered “family shows” that we used to know and love like The Cosby Show or Home Improvement. The best that TV has to offer is ABC’s The Middle airing on Wednesday nights. It’s squeaky clean, funny and you don’t have to be embarrassed to be watching it if grandma stops by.
Debuting this week, September 28th, is the new Suburgatory airing right after The Middle. Though not good for the “entire” family, it might make for a good show to watch with your pre-teens and teens. The first episode is a little rough around the edges, but it fairly charming.
Jeremy Sisto plays George, a single dad who wants the best for his 16-year-old daughter, Tessa (Jane Levy). So, when he discovers a box of condoms on her nightstand, he whisks her away from the evils of New York City to the pristine neighborhoods of the suburbs. Of course, the new neighborhood isn’t really a “better” environment to raise a kid – just different.
The parody of the suburbs is funny, but it’s not any suburb I’m familiar with. The show looks like a mash up of Beverly Hills 90210 and The Real Housewives. All the teen girls get nose jobs and drink sugar-free Red Bull (one wonders how much RB paid to be in this show).
The show is at its best with its “fish out of water” storyline. George has no interest in dating to the chagrin of the desperate single housewives and Tessa is too much of a tomboy to fit in with the popular girls. Levy is impressive, as the daughter who feels like her father has ruined her life. Sisto is effective as the long-suffering, not-sure-what-to-do-with-a-teenager father who doesn’t understand why Tessa isn’t grateful for the new arrangement. Cheryl Hines plays Dallas, the perky neighbor across the street ready to give parental advice to George and be a motherly figure for Tessa. She is simultaneously unaware of how inappropriate she is and genuinely caring. Tessa isn’t too thrilled with Dallas and to make matters worse, she is the mother of Dalia (Carly Chalkin), one the sourpuss popular girls at the high school.
It’s hard to judge a school by its pilot, but all in all, this one looks like it is on the right track. The same people who created Raising Hope (on Fox) create Suburgatory, so if you like that show, you’ll like this. There is plenty of sarcasm, but in the end, there is some heart too