Bad suburban architecture that can give you acne

The BBC TV show Orphan Black features a character who makes occasional humorous observations about the suburbs. Here is one of Felix’s quotes about suburbia from Season One courtesy of a recap:

It’s nine o’clock and Sarah pulls up to Alison’s house as Fee moans in the seat beside her. “You know I would never have gotten in if you said we were going to Suburbia.” He freaks out as she stops the car. “Don’t stop! Someone might speak to us!” Heh. Sarah peers out the window at Alison’s house. Fee frantically checks his complexion in the visor mirror. “You know, my skin just breaks out every time I leave downtown.” He demands Sarah look at his newly developed acne. “Right there! Tiny little suburban stress zits emerging in direct proximity to bad architecture.”

Felix is the classic antithesis of a suburbanite: gay bohemian artist who lives in a loft in a seedy-looking building. He sees suburbia as a bland place of conformity, a place that stifles creativity. This is illustrated by Fee’s quote above: the architecture of single-family home squeezed next to single-family home leads to acne.

Humorous quote but this critique is nothing new in the annals of suburbia. Concerns about conformity and bad architecture truly blossomed after World War II and continue to this day. Canadian subdivisions may often just heighten these concerns: the homes are often even closer together due to an interest in containing sprawl. In fact, these concerns are often reinforced by television shows and other narratives that play up the stereotypes of uptight, stuck-in-the-rat-race suburbanites versus free and uninhibited urban dwellers. While the show Orphan Black may have an unusual storyline, it is perpetuating a common suburban trope.

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