Friday, May 18, 2012

Suburgatory delivers "The Motherload"

It's Mother's Day in Chatwin on the season finale of ABC's Suburgatory, entitled "The Motherload."  As the neighborhood tries to outdo each other in honoring the moms, Eden (Alicia Silverstone, Clueless, Miss Match) wonders if perhaps Tessa (Jane Levy) isn't dealing with her feelings of abandonment, not having her mom in the picture. George (Jeremy Sisto) insists that he knows his daughter and Tessa is fine, but is she?

Yes and no. Tessa is a fully developed person, who does just fine without a mother up til now. Then she and her dad move out of the city, and into a place where mothers are no longer an abstract concept, but an ever-present dominating force. Perhaps subconsciously, Tessa looks to fill that void, bonding with Dallas (Cheryl Hines). Soon enough, Tessa is reminded that Dallas already has a daughter.

It's a shame that Dallas cares more about Dalia's (Carly Chaikin) absence than Tessa's presence in "The Motherload." Then again, Dalia is actually Dallas's daughter. Tessa may be sweet and more loving that Dallas's actual-born child, but there is a special bond between a woman and the girl that she gives birth to. Even if, from an outsider's perspective, the relationship appears flawed. In this, there is no blaming Dallas for accidentally shunning Tessa.

So who can Tessa turn to in Suburgatory to fill that mother void? Or does she even need to fill it? Tessa seems to think that, if she escapes back to the city, these emotions will stop. What she doesn't realize is, once brought into the open, this sort of thing can't be packed away again. Not only that, but George has been a heck of a parent to her, and if she leaves him to return to the Big Apple, she will likely miss him far more than she currently misses her absentee mommy. So this cliffhanger will obviously have to work itself out, with Tessa staying put in her suburban, somewhat hell-ish, community.

George is also seeking affection outside of their two-member family in "The Motherload." He invites Eden to live with them, but now that she's there, he's finding it a struggle to make her an included part of the clan. He wants Eden to feel welcome, but he doesn't want her to make decisions regarding Tessa. It's a real struggle for him to open up to someone and share all of the things that one has become accustomed to handling on one's own. George will probably fail in this first attempt, as he continues to figure out his path. But there will be other girls after Eden leaves. Maybe even Dallas, when George is ready.

Noah (Alan Tudyk) and Jill (Gillian Vigman, New Girl, The Hangover) don't make things any easier for Eden in "The Motherload," as she freaks out when she sees their big game hunting-themed nursery. True, the baby Eden is carrying is theirs, not hers, and she has no say in how the child is raised. But the decor does clash against some strongly held personal beliefs. Especially the baby seal and the club. It's no wonder, after her issues with George and these birth parents, that Eden can't wait to get the hell out of town!

Back to the Suburgatory's Mother's Day celebration, Fred (Chris Parnell) and Ryan (Parker Young) go all out to make Sheila's (Ana Gasteyer) day as special as possible. They fail, as Fred hires James Ingram (himself) to sing to her, only to learn that Sheila and James used to date. It's not Fred's fault, since Sheila never mentioned it, but it does lead to a pretty funny flop. And Fred was poised so well to win as a husband after the Cinderella stunt!

Sheila is so distracted by Fred's characteristic ineptitude that she doesn't even notice Lisa's (Allie Grant) lack of participation. Lisa mainly sits out because she is hoping that she is adopted, and waiting for the DNA test results to prove it.

Lisa often feels overshadowed by brother Ryan, so it's no surprise she isn't enthusiastic about family events. However, she also makes the startling discovery in "The Motherload" that it's not she who is adopted, but Ryan! Clearly, the story behind Fred and Sheila taking Ryan in might explain why they shower him with extra attention. But fans will have to wait until next season to find out!

Suburgatory is smart and funny; charming and goofy. It plays with stereotypes, but also presents fully fleshed out characters. Suburgatory is many things, and somehow makes opposite extremes blend together nicely, while serving larger stories. It packs a lot in, but doesn't feel rushed. Look at how much is going on in this review, and it's only a twenty-two minute episode! It's a really great show, and I can't wait for it to end its summer hiatus!

Suburgatory has been renewed for a second season and will return to ABC next fall.

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