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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Suburgatory: “Sex And The Suburbs”

Illustration for article titled Suburgatory: “Sex And The Suburbs”

Is it me or is Suburgatory growing more serialized? Obviously, the more history a show has, the more it has to draw from, but even apart from that, these past few episodes have strengthened the week-to-week bond with an overlapping narrative that looks smashing on this relaxed character comedy. I’m delighted to say “Sex And The Suburbs” faced the Great Condom Cliffhanger head-on (as you do), even if it did come at the expense of the full-blown Passive-Aggressive Game Night Valentine’s Day the marketing promised. (What can I say? I’m a sucker for twist holidays, like Cougar Town’s Romantic Thanksgiving or any non-Bar-Mitzvahkkah Chrismukkah.) It wasn’t the final word on George’s anxieties. It was just the natural next chapter, and it saw more than its fair share of character growth.

As feared, George let the misunderstanding grow bigger in his head (and, yes, that was a reference to Scott). But I never believed that Suburgatory would validate his crazy, and right from the get-go, we have Noah giving him a hard time about his daughter’s voracious appetite for flesh. Add Dallas—fresh from a tantric mani-pedi—and Tessa—all too happy to let him stew—and Adam Barr's script for “Sex And The Suburbs” is another fun, George-sized crucible. He seems to realize he overreacted last fall: “I can’t keep relocating her every time I find condoms, can I?” He still puts on a Game Night for Lisa and Malik as a cover for investigating Tessa’s sex life. (The best exchange of the night was George asking them about intercourse and Malik responding, “Should I call my mom to come get me?”) But eventually, he tries to do what’s best for Tessa by calmly talking with her about making responsible choices. And all on his own, too. Nobody has to teach George what to do. Everyone just teases him until he realizes he has to be an adult. I still don’t think George fully trusts Tessa, either about Scott or going forward, but he’s getting there.

He’s also getting some (I apologize), though I’m not sure Noah’s “Be a single dude” talk was convincing enough to bear the weight of a “Push It”-scored hook-up with Jocelyn. Then again, Noah’s been pushing that since the pilot, and so has she. It was only a matter of time. Regardless, it made for two great sequences: 1) the Game Night dirty talk (“I’m gonna slide down your chute and go up your ladder!”) brought the funny, and 2) the quiet bit in the driveway brought the touching. I think the power came from how calm they were, Tessa pointing out the hypocrisy and George reiterating the importance of responsibility. It was a small moment, but a lovely one.

Which brings us to Tessa. Jane Levy had another stellar episode, juggling Scott, George, and her own obsession. Whether on a date with a kid who won’t stop talking about the one adventure he’s had or in a fight with her father who once again doesn’t believe her or in a gym class montage ranting to Dallas about her problems, Levy always finds solid ground. It’s always easier to forgive assholishness in kids (insert caveat about how in Chatswin, everyone’s a kid), but I’m glad that Tessa didn’t dangle Scott too long after realizing she was only with him because she won him from Dalia.

Dalia, as I say every week, is perfect in her little snippets, as when she tells Tessa and Scott to “buy a hotel!” But I have misgivings about the end, where she asks if her parents are getting a divorce. It really takes the wind out of your sails, but don’t worry, it was just a joke: Kids in the suburbs LOVE when their parents get divorced. The thing is, I buy that Dalia would appreciate the materialistic advantages of two birthdays and two bedrooms to decorate. But Suburgatory almost seems afraid to simmer in pathos, always needing to cut to the joke, and going from “Oh, yeah, how is all this affecting that little girl?” to “Haha, she’s just in it for things!” felt especially cold.

Dallas’ divorce has been a long time coming, but someone’s M/L panties in the house were the last straw. Of course, she first consults her lawyer, who tells her to make sure it’s a deal-breaker, and listens to Tessa, who tells her she’s breaking up with Scott, but in the end, she files for divorce and does all the things she couldn’t do before: wear shoes in the house in a Risky Business routine that culminates in some hilarious acrobatics.


Now that everything's ended, I can’t wait to see where Suburgatory goes from here. Scott Strauss might be off the show entirely. Same with Steven, who’s supposed to be on the other side of the planet anyway. I’d be concerned about how the light serialization I praised is coming to an end, but with Tessa and George and Dallas, it’s clear things are finally beginning.

Stray observations:

  • Theories on the Reverse Andre the Giant?
  • RIP Scott Strauss, he of the uneven stubble. “It’s just hard to laugh when you know that other people are starving… Zambia."
  • It wasn’t very Valentiney, what with the breakup and divorce, but there was some flirtation. Malik made a pass at Lisa, and Ryan Shay wants Tessa back. Whatever gets them more screentime is fine by me.
  • "I’m not positive, but I’d bet Free Parking that Indiana Avenue has never been photographed so beautifully.” Sex and the Suburbs” was directed by Julie Anne Robinson, and Anthony R. Palmieri was the DP.
  • Googling "M/L panties" is officially the weirdest "research" I've done for a review on The A.V. Club, and I still don't know the proper style for the term.
  • I was wrong. My favorite joke of the episode was that glaring book spine in the background of Tessa’s big fight with George with the title Magnum.
  • “Good morning, guys. Steven’s sleeping with a heifer. I’m gonna go hit the gym.”