Living in a Material World: Suburgatory | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Living in a Material World: Suburgatory

Charlotte Goodwin talks us through the latest comedy show to cross the Atlantic

How will Tessa cope in her new environment?

Charlotte Goodwin talks us through the latest comedy show to cross the Atlantic.

E4’s latest US sitcom to be welcomed on to our television screens is Suburgatory. The first episode is centred around teenager Tessa and her father George Altman who have moved from New York City, into the ‘Stepford Wives’ world of the seemingly perfect Suburbia. The decision to up-roots and plan a new life for themselves came about when George became anxious that Tessa was growing up too quickly. Little does he realise his over protection is only going to be the start of their troubles!

Tessa is fully against the suburban way of life – hence the show’s name being an amalgam of ‘Suburbia’ and ‘Purgatory’. In her own words we see the extent of her dad’s over-protection as the move emerges due to ‘a box full of rubber landed me in a world full of plastic.’ And what a world of plastic she is in – later we view women floating in swimming pools because of their implants!

When Tessa is ‘welcomed’ into her new school she is given a buddy who is the apparent ‘it’ girl called Dalia. Through this character we are introduced to the bitchiness and bullying in an American High School environment and the staple diet of the Suburbia ladies – sugar free red bull. Even when the school day is over Tessa cannot escape the hellish world that surrounds her. She is picked up for a shopping trip by Dalia and her mother Dallas; clearly the Queen Bee of the immaculate world she inhabits. But it is not only Tessa who has problems to deal with. Comedy comes throughout the episode when the male-obsessed Suburban wives grow ever more flirtatious with George when they learn that he is single.

Things do begin to look up for Tessa by the end of the first episode. We start to see her façade of hatred towards anything girly disappear when Dallas gives her a bra which Tessa calls the prettiest thing she owns; adding to the continual superficial elements in the show. She also makes friends with a girl that has a horribly gossipy mother and who has been at the ends of Dalia’s bullying.

The creator of this new sitcom, Emily Kapnek, has managed to make the show a success in America, and certainly fills the latest void on television with Desperate Housewives finishing. So let’s hope Suburgatory follows in the steps of the latest American success New Girl, and not go down the lines of the unpopular US comedy 2 Broke Girls. Yes, this first episode is extremely superficial. However, given the triumph it has been in America we are told to be patient and soon we too will understand all the hype…


23rd July 2012 at 12:13 pm