Sunday, January 19, 2014


Article first written for Seat42F.

ABC’s SUBURGATORY, a charming little comedy about a father and daughter who move from the Big Apple to the suburbs, returns for a third season this week with “No Me Gusta, Mami.” Season two ended on quite the cliffhanger, with Dallas (Cheryl Hines) dumping George (Jeremy Sisto), her daughter, Dalia (Carly Chaikin), moving in with George, and George’s daughter, Tessa (Jane Levy), running off to stay with her mother in the city. Now we finally get to see how that all turns out.

Well, it’s a bit of a letdown because order is restored before the opening credits roll. Dalia is still mad at Dallas, but she’s back in her mansion. It takes no time at all for Tessa’s mom, Alex (Malin Akerman), to abandon her, leaving Tessa back with George. George and Dallas don’t get back together, but other than that, everything seems to be back to normal in Chatwin. That’s not the end of their story, but it is a quick reset, too quick in my opinion.

This isn’t a complete disappointment; the chemistry of the principal cast, especially these four, is great the way it is. Shaking it up too much could have hurt the series, and the efforts of three of the four players to make up with their relations are sweet and touching. Thus, it’s an emotionally satisfying story, even if one might wish for a bolder plot twist, such as waiting a few episodes before sending the girls home.

SUBURGATORY is, by and large, a comedy, but it’s also pretty good at portraying the interactions between parents and children. George and Tessa have a unique relationship, as do Dalia and Dallas, and these are a major draw for the show. Their chemistries do shift and grow over time, but love always underlies them.

This may not completely carry over to the Shay household. With Ryan (Parker Young, now starring in Enlisted on FOX) off to college, Fred (Chris Parnell) and Sheila (Ana Gasteyer) are in full empty nest mode. That means Fred is on the couch reading magazines, but not an unhealthy amount of them, and Sheila is patrolling the neighborhood in camouflage, fervently hunting down an escaped dog. This might be a natural reaction for a couple to have, except their nest isn’t really empty, as daughter Lisa (Allie Grant) still resides at home.

Now, fans of SUBURGATORY will accept this as quite expected, but it’s a little sad. As loving as George and Dallas might be towards their offspring, the Shays have always treated their natural-born daughter far worse than their adopted son. It’s a shame, and explains many of Lisa’s neurosis, including her talent for emotional manipulation of her friends. Unfortunately for Lisa, her lot isn’t likely to improve anytime soon.

By and large, “No Me Gusta, Mami” is a funny episode. There are bits with a big pooch, a creepy baby, a tranquilizer gun, take-home accountants (Parenthood’s Phil Abrams, Better Off Ted’s Gary Rubenstein, and Arrested Development’s Bob Glouberman), a ditzy dog groomer (Natasha Leggero, Burning Love), a smoldering jersey, a tweaked theme song, and other vague references I won’t explain to avoid spoilers. Mostly, it’s quite good, and as amusing as ever.

There is a tense bit of “No Me Gusta, Mami” in which a couple of characters contemplate leaving the suburbs behind. But given the premise of the series, any such musings are purely hypothetical. The show may lose supporting characters like Noah (Alan Tudyk) and Mr. Wolfe (Rex Lee), who have been dropped from the main cast this year and will be missed, but the setting itself will remain, as will the core cast.

What would be the real shame, though, is if this series were canceled. It’s not highly rated, and the late start this year does not bode well for its long-term viability. Yet, the slightly hyper-realized world and charming, zany people that populate it would definitely leave a whole in the television landscape if it disappeared. So tune in and encourage your friends to do the same.

SUBURGATORY airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

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