Emily Kapnek’s sophomore ABC comedy, Suburgatory, mixes high school tropes with family dramas, as well as weird comedic timing with sentimental moments. This has been made more apparent in 2012, as our heroine, Tessa, has dealt more with the pains of growing up, while her father, George, has moved forward with his first serious relationship in a long time, and as Tessa’s mother, Alex, has entered the plot for the first time.

It’s that latter plot point that has stepped up Suburgatory’s game in 2012. As Tessa’s growing older, she’s yearning for an adult relationship with her mother but she’s also figuring out who and what is important in her life’s trajectory. It can be painful and awkward, and Suburgatory isn’t afraid to explore those moments. Yet, with a thrilling cast that includes Chris Parnell, Allie Grant, Ana Gasteyer, Alan Tudyk, and the amazing Cheryl Hines, Suburgatory has hit more high notes than lows in the last year, exhausting every comedic possibility out of its scenes while still making us care about its characters and their problems. On the surface, Suburgatory is a basic view into upperclass life in the suburbs, but luckily it manages to take its premise and become so much more than just a shot at privileged lives and ideals. Instead, it has proved to be one of the most clever and careful shows on television.

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