Yesterday, I ran into a full-page promotional ad for Suburgatory, a new ABC sitcom which first airs on September 28. Here is the ad (image from DisneyDreaming.com):
Watch the trailer here and also read ABC’s description of the show (these are separate paragraphs but I think they are meant to be two different descriptions):
Single father George only wants the best for his 16-year-old daughter, Tessa. So when he finds a box of condoms on her nightstand, he moves them out of their apartment in New York City to a house in the suburbs. But all Tessa sees is the horror of over-manicured lawns and plastic Franken-moms. Being in the ‘burbs can be hell, but it also may just bring Tessa and George closer than they’ve ever been.
Tessa (Jane Levy) and George (Jeremy Sisto) have been on their own ever since Tessa’s mom pulled a “Kramer vs. Kramer” before she was even potty trained. So far, George has done a pretty good job of raising Tessa without a maternal figure in their lives, but suddenly he’s feeling a little out of his league. So it’s goodbye New York City and hello suburbs. At first Tessa is horrified by the big-haired, fake-boobed mothers and their sugar-free Red Bull-chugging kids. But little by little she and her dad begin finding a way to survive on the clean streets of the ‘burbs. Sure, the neighbors might smother you with love while their kids stare daggers at your back, but underneath all that plastic and caffeine, they’re really not half bad. And they do make a tasty pot roast.
As I suggested back in March, this show at least appears that it may cover typical suburban territory: an innocent person moves to a nice-looking neighborhood but finds that the people aren’t what they seem and hijinks or unpleasant events ensue. The suburbs are full of fake people and I’m sure the show will have some commentary about striving for social status, “authentic” living in New York City, and perhaps even takes a shot or two at McMansions and SUVs. Perhaps this show’s twist is that the main characters are a teenage daughter and a single dad but hasn’t this also been tackled by other shows and movies? A new prediction: if it simply updates Desperate Housewives or Revolutionary Road for the teenage set, I don’t think it will last until the end of the first season.
Thinking about this show, it would be interesting to compile a database of television shows that really tackle suburban living. To do this, one would first have to distinguish between shows that take place in the suburbs (say Boy Meets World – not sure why this popped into my mind) versus ones that revolve around suburban themes and issues. I’ve thought about doing something similar for popular music songs in order to look for patterns. In both hypothetical databases, I suspect I would find a generally critical (or perhaps “satirical”) take on suburbs even as Americans have continued to move into these places.
I’ll be tracking the fate of this show and may also have to watch an episode for research purposes…