“Suburgatory” immediately stumbles with its premise. The dad, (Jeremy Sisto, “Law and Order”) finds condoms in his 16-year-old daughter’s room, so he pulls her out of school and moves the family from New York City to the Connecticut suburbs. It makes no logical sense — the suburbs are famous for the rich kids who live there and the drugs and sex they use to alleviate their boredom. Why did he think this would be a good idea? Immediately the dad is an idiot, but beyond the absence of any intelligence, what kind of horrible parent responds to finding condoms by uprooting his family and moving them out of the state? It’s more than callous — it’s psychotic. So within the first minute of the backstory, you hate one of the main characters you are supposed to empathize with. Not good so far.


Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.


When the show finally starts, it seems that absolutely no creative or original concept went into creating the setting. Take “The Stepford Wives,” and then think of the five most typical adjectives about the suburbs. Put them together and you have “Suburgatory.” The daughter, Tessa (Jane Levy, “Shameless”), is begrudgingly given a guided tour of her school on her first day. The escort is another classmate named Dalia (Carly Chaikan, “The Last Song”), a popular girl who is only participating in this act of charity for extra credit. Of course Dalia won’t be friends with Tessa because her popularity is at stake, compounded by the fact that Tessa dresses strangely and has big leather boots, which to Dalia could only mean one thing — Tessa is a lesbian. And yes, “Mean Girls” already did this.

So the new girl is an angsty counterculturalist, and the popular girl is a robotic stereotype of suburban excess. Not fording much new ground here. Dalia does a great job of encapsulating the problems of the show. She is a monotone banality and serves as one of the many unclever stereotypes — in fact, she’s a collection of them. She has no intonation and plays into all the suburban cliches. She has a rich mom, played by (Cheryl Hines, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) who insists her daughters’ short skirts are too long — think Amy Poehler in “Mean Girls.” Dalia is bleached blonde, she bullies the nerds — you can guess the rest, it has all been done before.

So for any promising material, all that is left is the relationship between Tessa and her dad. They are the only characters who seem to have any layers, but if the writing proves to be as boring and uninspiring as the premise, “Suburgatory” is headed nowhere fast. There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, but for the most part the writing is so mediocre that the actors deliver their lines in a tone that seems more desperate than funny. There are glimpses of situational humor and good writing, but they could have just been accidents. It feels like everyone in the show is just trying too hard. The funniest part of this half-hour viewing experience was an Aflac advertisement during a commercial break, which about sums up “Suburgatory” in its entirety.

If you couldn’t guess, “Suburgatory” is a portmanteau of suburbs and purgatory. The best word to describe the viewing experience would simply be hell. Enjoy at your own risk.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.