Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Suburgatory: Not Bad!

Just a quick hit on a TV show recommendation I have...I've been watching Suburgatory on ABC on and off an I'm really enjoying it, or at least, I've enjoyed the handful of episodes I've caught so far.

The premise is pretty simple. Tessa (Jane Levy) a high schooler, and her single father, George (Jeremy Sisto) move from the big city to the suburbs and have to adjust to what this means for their lives. Tessa struggles with fitting in at her new school and being around people who are sort of vapid and privileged.

Overall, the show is pretty simple, cute, and not too deep. But not everything has to be, you know? What I like about the show is that Tessa is a very real female character. She is a hard worker at both her part time job and in school. She is funny, smart, and strong (often standing up for what she believes in at the risk of not fitting in--even standing up to her dad) but she's not perfect. She makes mistakes and learns from them. She realizes a few times that the people she considers so awful aren't as bad as she assumes and that she can actually learn from them a time or two.

George is also a relatively feminist-friendly male character, as he has taken on the nontraditional task of raising Tessa alone. He's trying to do the best he can and figuring it out as he goes. He doesn't fall into the strong, infallible, heroic male savior stereotype. Or a "man, I am just so confused and weirded out by my daughters. I better do something manly to escape from this girly situation" like the annoying stereotypical father played by Tim Allen in Last Man Standing.

I will say I am a little bothered by George's periodic fixation on Tessa's virginity status, but again, that's realistic. So often dad's are baffled about how to approach the topic of sex with their teen daughters and struggle to find the right things to say and do. Throughout this situation, I feel like Tessa isn't reduced to a "daddy's little girl" and she makes sure that her opinions and feelings are known. Instead of an overbearing father role, George serves as a reasonably concerned parent.

There are a whole lot o' "rich white people problems" going on, but that's kind of a satirical element of the show, poking fun at the whole "Real Housewives of ______" phenomena. I'm not really sure what to say or make of this element of the show, but I'm just laying it out there.

Suburgatory was created by a woman, Emily Kapnek. Although it's probably not going to win any Emmys, any time soon, it's certainly a testament to the fact that if more women are able to tell their stories, we will have more stories that women and girls can relate to. It kind of reminds me about how I felt about Awkward on MTV: Suburgatory isn't perfect, but with all of the really awful messages that are getting to teen girls out there, if they happen to stumble upon this show, I'm ok with that.


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