Although there have been a few hopeful pickups this Friday, today’s big news from the networks has actually been rather negative, featuring plenty of cancelations. One of the more eventful cancelations was ABC’s Suburgatory, a delightful and oddball comedy that has run for three seasons on the network. While ABC’s decision is justifiable, we’ll still miss the utter zaniness of Emily Kapnek’s show, and what better way to send it off than to bring up the five most important plot ideas that helped Suburgatory to stand out from the pack? Without further ado, here are the five stories, plots and relationships we’ll miss about ABC’s Suburgatory.
Suburgatory was never a show to hold back when it came to marketing. The series first released a slew of photographs featuring a New York brownstone shunted up against a slew of identical row house in the suburbs. It seemed like your typical city girl versus the suburbs series. And then things got weird.
Over the years, Suburgatory showed Tessa and George’s embracing of the suburbs in a variety of ways. Most noticeably, Tessa and George shed their roots in the show’s opener, during which Tessa favors a cute gingham half shirt and George swaps his favored plaid shirt for a polo. During Season 3, the show even changed up the opening sequence to include marionettes. Suburgatory has been a girl versus the suburbs series, but its characters have also been outside-the-box and its writing has taken chances that made it something special. Which leads us to…
Dahlia’s Music Videos
Suburgatory loved to get reference-y over its three seasons, but my personal favorite moments occurred when the series asked us to suspend reality and roll with a few truly weird plotlines. At the heart of many of these truly bizarre plotlines was damaged mean girl Dahlia, whose deadpanning should bring a smile to the most serious of people. Dahlia’s crowning moment was probably her music video tribute to her former cleaning lady, Carmen.
Called “You Missed a Spot,” the 2-minute video follows Dahlia in all her frills and frippery, singing her heart out to one of the only stable forces in her life—her cleaning lady. She, quite frankly, sucks at singing and performing, but it’s the sort of weird journey Suburgatory was totally okay with trying. The fact that the show pulled the concept off makes it even sadder that we won’t get the chance to see its zany antics in the future. Which leads us to…
Simplifying The Format
Simplifying the format was a Season 3 original. Everything that made Suburgatory great could also be overwhelming, with a large cast of characters popping up whenever the need arose. Usually if a large side cast has been amassed by the show’s third season, it’s a great accomplishment by the show’s writers. In Suburgatory’s case, the large ensemble cast was mostly made up of key players, and the writing was suffering a bit from playing catch-up. In Season 3, Ryan Shay was mostly out of the picture, and the actors playing Noah Werner and Mr. Wolfe were demoted. Sad as the news was, in Suburgatory’s case, less has been more.
I’m pretty sure that the changes occurred during Season 3 after the show was held until midseason and its budget was changed. However, it was all for the best, leading to a more tightly crafted comedy that still offered enough oddball characters to wait for each week. Which leads us to…
George and Dallas
A lot of shows employ a “will they or won’t they” dating ploy during their run. Interestingly, Suburgatory chose not to run this sort of plotline with any of the numerous teenaged characters on the show. Instead, the show gave the honors to Tessa’s father, George, and Dahlia’s mother, Dallas. Even more excitingly, it didn’t take too long for the couple to try their hand at dating. Unlike ridiculous shows like Bones, we didn’t have to wait until Season 6 to reach a satisfactory relationship conclusion; Dallas and George started dating during Season 2.
It didn’t work out. However, it was the timeline of their narrative that was both fulfilling and exciting, proving that comedies don’t have to play out the same tired plotlines and character traits to keep fans invested. Characters in comedies can grow and change, hit growing pains, and keep trekking forward for as long as the network will let them. Which leads us to…
George and Tessa
George and Tessa were never immune to growing pains. The father-daughter team didn’t always see eye-to-eye. George was a single parent who didn’t always know how to deal with a teenaged daughter and Tessa was smart, headstrong and occasionally rebellious—a challenging combination. Regardless, Jane Levy and Jeremy Sisto offered a pitch-perfect combination. They were the reason most of us tuned in each week.
For years, Tessa came to terms with not having a reliable mother, balancing her regular teenager problems with her unusual home life. Her dad dealt with making decisions as a single parent and having conversations with his kid that are usually fulfilled by a matriarchal role. They did these things together in a strange town with different rules than those set for them in New York City. This offered plenty of opportunities for jokes, but also plenty of opportunities for poignancy. We’ll certainly miss both.
ABC’s Suburgatory isn’t quite finished with its third and final season. If you’d like to see it sent off in style, you can catch the show’s closer on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
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