Watch Suburgatory – Decemberfold Online S02E19

Suburgatory - Decemberfold
One afternoon, George and Dallas are having lunch at the club when Javier inquires about the Dads of Chatswin charity calendar. Every year, Mothers Against the Defamation of Undiluted Apple Juice showcase 12 men of Chatswin in beefcake photos, with the one deemed the hottest getting to represent December in a two-page foldout. Dallas laughs off the idea of George doing something fun and silly like that, only for him to sign up on the spot and attempt to put himself outside his comfort zone.

Despite warnings from Noah and Fred, George stays in the hunt for the Decemberfold, drawing generally positive remarks at the interview with MADUAJ, though they think his lack of body definition makes him more of a March than a December. However, George doesn’t let that stop him from going on a crash diet over the next couple of days in preparation for the shoot, as he tosses any fattening food in the house and stresses over calories on a night out with Dallas.

The following evening, they try to go see a movie that ends up being sold out, although George thinks sitting for a movie will be harmful to his metabolism. As he wears a garbage bag and jogs outside the theater, Dallas tells him that she wouldn’t mind if he got hit by a car, he’s acting so strangely.

George has no time to worry because before he knows it, it’s the day of the shoot. He won’t be finding out what month he is until the reveal party, so each of the men selected will have to go through multiple photo shoots during the day. While Noah plays surfer and Fred pays homage to Titanic, George works in a sausage factory before all three are brought together for a little butt-to-butt action and “Me So Horny”. George ends up getting to be Mr. December dressed as a sexy elf, but the one person he wants to be there to share in the joy (Dallas) isn’t. He then goes to her house where the two make up and share in her favorite pie, since he’s starving.

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Watch Suburgatory – Hash and Eggs Online S02E15

Suburgatory - Hash and Eggs
Apparently Marty Krupp was more than just the Godfather of Chatswin- he loved to steam 8 to 10 hours a day, ate corn beef hash and eggs daily at the same diner for over twenty years, and never even took one step outside of his beloved town. Oh yeah, and he was also George Altman’s best-y, or at least that’s what George discovers when the lonely old man keels over unceremoniously right in front of him, where else, but in the sauna at the Chatswin Country Club.

Tasked with making the arrangements for Marty’s funeral, George and Noah each find themselves questioning the idea of comfort zones and a life lived in deference to them. It certainly doesn’t help that George is privy to the Godfather’s last speech in which he details future plans that include 3,000 unused vacation days from his city job, and a trip to someplace tropical. Naturally it might have behooved Marty not to put off till tomorrow what could have been done today, but hey, if someone get’s the message, perhaps his death won’t be in vain.

Don’t count on that someone being Noah Warner though. Despite last week’s burying of the hatchet with Dallas over Carmen-gate, the sore loser is still emotional over the defection of his beloved housekeeper, and delivers a seriously insensitive speech at the funeral peppered with enough off-kilter jokes to make Seth Macfarlane cry, “too soon”.

Luckily Dalia, despite not even knowing the old man, has found such inspiration in her religious awakening and conversion that she is happy to honor a fallen yadid. I’m sure Julie Andrews and Catherine Zeta-Jones will be quaking in their sequins when they get a load of her heartfelt interpretation of Sondheim’s classic, ?Send In The Clowns”. But even if they don’t, it’s nice to see Dalia, once again stepping out of her own comfort zone, this time with a newfound appreciation for the theater. And young nebbish Evan seems to be the true benefactor of her thirst for exploration as this mench has found himself at the forefront of Dalia’s sudden affection. Though can she still be a shiksa goddess if she converts?

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Watch Suburgatory – T-Ball & Sympathy Online S02E14

Suburgatory - T-Ball & Sympathy
You have to appreciate a show that’s willing to try address their biggest flaws. Suburgatory is a show that could coast on the strength of its awesome set of actors that make the teenage population in Chatswin. Instead, Emily Kapnek continues to take entire episodes attempting to provide depth to the adult characters which populate the series. While I appreciate their desire to have more flexibility with their characters, the fact that some characters are so easily forgotten shows how poor a job they’ve done with some of the adult characters to this point.

That’s the main problem with tonight’s A-story surrounding AskTessa (trademark pending) trying to give Mr. Wolfe advice on his love life. There is nothing wrong with Rex Lee’s performance, but it’s difficult to feel sorry for a person that we don’t get to see much. He serves no special purpose for our leads, and he doesn’t have anything interesting going outside of school. He’s simply someone who’s there, because even Chatswin has to have a few adults working there.

The story ended coming full circle as AskTessa is spot on with Mr. Wolfe’s cheating boyfriend, but can’t see into her own problems while Ryan is on his 3 day road game. I know sitcom couples have to have some sort of conflict as time progresses, but Ryan suddenly taking issue with Tessa seems a bit out of place. There are plenty of things to dislike about Tessa, but it would have helped if we heard Ryan express one before disappearing.

The B-Story once again featured George and Dallas as they teamed together to beat Noah? at T-Ball. There is many ways to approach coaching youth sports, but you may have gone too far when your kids start yelling from the dugout “Sweep the leg!” It may be more troubling those kids get the reference. Either way, the episode was well-crafted enough that we can forgive them some of the cliched moments in coaching T-Ball. George and Dallas are a very likable couple, but it feels like we are merely killing time with them in the morning.

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Watch Suburgatory – Blowtox and Burlap Online S02E13

Suburgatory - Blowtox and Burlap
Although she doesn’t particularly care for the holiday itself, Tessa is happy to have a Valentine this year in Ryan, who gives her a handmade card and invites her to go to a party at Cody’s. Granted, he’ll have to wear a shirt that says “Cody’s Mom is a MILF” on it, but it should be the type of non-mushy activity that cynical Tessa should revel in.

Only, she wants to go see well-reviewed art house movie Sea of Anguish down at the local theater. With the promise of popcorn and candy, Ryan agrees to go with her. His reaction to the movie, though, surprises Tessa and makes her fearful for the future.

That’s because he loved the movie, which featured a monkey running through an art gallery, bowing to a statue of a horse, a child staring at a fish for 5 minutes, and a ghost possessing an eel, while Tessa hated it and didn’t derive any of the meaning from it that he did. When she offers to go to the party anyway, he decides that he needs to take a walk; Tessa worries that their disagreement and his reaction to it could mean trouble up ahead for them, but Dallas reassures her that it’s a good thing.

It means their relationship is progressing and although they may be out of the honeymoon period, they’re at a time that could be the beginning of something real. As with anything real, everything won’t be hunky dory all the time, so she needed to go find her man and make up.

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Watch Suburgatory – Black Thai Online S02E09

Suburgatory - Black Thai
Somewhere during the hip-hop dance fight between George and Dallas I gave up trying to make sense of this episode. This isn’t exactly the bad Suburgatory, because the characters are recognizably themselves: Tessa’s a little righteous, Dalia is a lot whiny, George and Dallas gradually get sucked into childish behavior.

But the episode is split into three distinct plots that don’t really resonate with one another, so it feels exactly like the sum of its parts. And those parts include a kidnapping, an adult dance-off, and the world’s grossest pudding skin, so it’s a wonder this episode stays afloat at all.

Tessa and Dalia are taking the SATs and when they get out of the exam room, Tessa finds out that Dalia received a car for her PSAT score while she got an ice cream, even though she made it into the top 10percent nationally. This being Suburgatory, this makes her a little bitter toward Dalia, who only races to finish each exam, and Tessa ends up making her feel bad for getting a reward for no reason. However, Dalia takes solace in one thing; although Tessa gets better grades and has a brighter future, she’s a better dancer.

To flaunt that fact, Dalia invites a reluctant Tessa to one of her hip hop dance classes, where she challenges her to a dance battle. Dalia has years of lessons under her belt and a pretty smooth crew to back her, while Tessa’s alone, not dressed for the part, and void of rhythm, but the major beef ends up being between George and Dallas. Dallas accuses George of being cheap, George calls Dallas an enabler, and they have their own dance battle on the sidelines, complete with randomly appearing cardboard and Dallas doing the robot.

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Watch Suburgatory – Krampus Online S02E07

Suburgatory - Krampus
“Krampus” is exactly the parting shot Suburgatory needs before the winter hiatus, encapsulating the show’s eccentricities without sacrificing the general quality of the season so far. Tonally, it swings from a heartfelt mother-daughter chat to a Mr. Peepers sketch. The plot breaks down into several connected stories about parent-child relationships, each with varying degrees of comedy, but all with a recognizable human core.

For every forced moment, such as the awkward hotel hug, there’s a golden nugget, such as the wide shot of Alex hunched over to connect with her daughter. And in the end, Tessa comes home, but Ryan won’t.

It’s sexy-messy, everything sort of working together but not in perfect parallel, running the gamut in style but in service of the same themes and moods. It’s frankly pretty ambitious for such a low-concept sitcom. Tessa wants to spend Christmas with her mother, but quickly yearns to be at home with her father. Dalia wants her surrogate mother back. Ryan feels betrayed by his parents and leaves them. Jill is worried about her son taking after Carmen more than her. Yes, somehow a neighborhood feud over who gets the best housekeeper has become a season arc. It’s the bubble wrap in the package, and I can’t believe how enjoyable it’s been to play with.

Dalia has never been as excited about anything as she is about being reunited with Carmen. Between opening that present, her one-sentence monologue, and the music video “You Missed A Spot” Carly Chaikin alone keeps the episode from getting too serious.

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Watch Suburgatory – Friendship Fish Online S02E06

Suburgatory - Friendship Fish
With Lisa breaking up with Malik last week on Suburgatory, she’s alone for the first time in a long while. She knows that she doesn’t want to get back together right now, having demanded back her scrunchies, and she immediately attaches herself to Tessa, who wanted to spend her weekend with her tablet and Edgar Allen Poe.

Lisa brings her sticker-covered sleepover trunk, full of arts and crafts supply and a fish she caught at summer camp that had been smoking in her closet for a month. It was a tradition at her camp for friends to share the same fish and she wants to share that with Tessa, who she considers to be her best friend.

After nearly three hours of airbrushing t-shirts, scrapbooking, making watermelon helmets, posing for a caricaturist, and singing Bette Midler songs about friendship, Tessa decides that she’s had enough. She heads to the bathroom and makes a call to Lisa’s mother posing as a fire inspector and talking about a safety hazard. Sheila quickly comes by to take Lisa home, but Tessa feels guilty about choosing technology over her friend, even having a bad dream about the smoked fish talking to her that makes her decide to confess.

As a result of the smoked fish, Lisa has been sentenced to roadside clean-up and even though Tessa confesses to wanting time with her tablet, the two decide to finally split the fish. However, you’re only supposed to smoke a fish for four hours (not four weeks) and Tessa is rushed to the hospital with food poisoning.

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Watch Suburgatory – The Wishbone Online S02E05

Suburgatory - The Wishbone After twenty minutes spent stewing in anticipation with every emotional beat slightly and deliberately off-key, “The Wishbone” builds to a finale that knocked me out. Once again Suburgatory shows just how much depth is in the cartoon. “The Wishbone” isn’t even that cartoonish in plot, but it sure makes up for that in style. Director Uta Briesewitz, D.P. for The Wire, shoots with such tight focus that Chatswin keeps blurring into one colorful, plastic mosaic, like a continuous background to the animated cel-actors. The one poster in Tessa’s room is required by dialogue, and it just happens to complement Alex’s wardrobe. And maybe it’s because I’m from the South but the autumn leaves look faker than the smiles. Chatswin looks even more artificial than usual, but that’s the point.

Lisa Shay is just this side of strangling cats to feel alive for a moment, which is to say she is almost pure cartoon. She exists to be reliably strange, and even her strangeness, how she is strange, is unusual for television. But because she provides so many good laughs, whether I see her as fully human or not, she encourages identification, or at least sympathy. She’s not the emotional center—she’s not even an emotional center—but I like her. And then a comic subplot goes too far, and she shows just how seriously she feels aggrieved by her mother.

I’m reminded of “The Motherload.” That episode tries and fails to keep its defenses up, and at the last moment, Tessa seriously faces up to a deep wound. Lisa does the same in “The Wishbone” which not for nothing opens with Tessa and Lisa in a position that will soon take on some significance, lying on the ground next to each other. Lisa’s entire year-and-a-quarter story has been a preposterous war against her mother. Last Thanksgiving, as Fred cheerfully reminds us, Lisa even shows up to her dinner naked, anything to keep from donning her mother’s colonial-wear. By the end of the season, Lisa is so sure she’s not related to her mother that she assumes she’s been adopted and discovers the wonders of confirmation bias. It’s easy to take for pure comic relief. But now Lisa sees her mother seeing Malik naked, and she can’t take it. She tries to get through dinner, but everyone keeps talking about it and joking about it, and she explodes. This hasn’t been comic relief for her, and she’s not just a cartoon. Suburgatory is her life.

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Watch Suburgatory – Foam Finger Online S02E04

Suburgatory - Foam Finger I find it more than a little creepy that George (Jeremy Sisto) and Dallas (Cheryl Hines) are getting it on this season of Suburgatory, even though, as Tessa noted in this episode, you could see it coming. The Altmans are supposed to be the fish out of water in the suburban pool of perfection. They are, and the good news is that George’s gift for being real did sorta win out in the end. Still, his and Dallas’s is not what I would call a match made in heaven.

What was funny on Wednesday night’s episode was Dallas’s ridiculous attempts to control how she and George were going to have sex. In typical Dallas fashion, it was all about the flash, with her flying in and providing a gospel choir to fulfill George’s supposed fantasy. And then, she “climaxed” before George even had a chance to get to first base. Think she’s got a few problems with intimacy?

The second plot, with Dalia (Carly Chaikin) getting all messed up over her father’s impending marriage to a Singaporean flight attendant who doesn’t speak English, also had some lovely bits. It was sad watching Dalia dismissing her crew, the KKK, but even funnier when Tessa came to their rescue. That fact that Tessa dumped them on Lisa was understandable. I also loved that Lisa got fed up, too.

But what I really enjoy about the show is that Tessa does have a conscience. She didn’t just leave the KKK to wander the streets like the hapless, brainless idiots they are. She found a home for them. And when it became clear that Dalia was in serious trouble, Tessa ran to help.

Still, the crowning moment of the evening was when George finally sat Dallas down for a talk, telling her what he wants from sex is connection and caring, just about everything every straight woman on the planet wants from her guy. I could even forgive flannel shirts for a guy like that (I almost have one). I also loved that Dallas’s eventual assessment of the activity in question was “pretty decent.”

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Watch Suburgatory – Homecoming Online S02E01

Suburgatory - Homecoming Online S02E01 Multiple characters on Suburgatory have been dealing with mommy/caregiver issues. For Tessa, who has never met her mother and hasn’t seemed to have any inclination to begin finding out about her, not having a mother around has never been an issue that’s caused her much outward grief and turmoil. It may have made her a bit more distrustful of letting people into her life and caused her to not take all authority that seriously, but it has yet to bring out that much anguish. On tonight’s Season Premiere of Suburgatory, she has to face up to the reality of not having a mother and begin putting the idea of a full-fledged person where a mere noun once stood alone.

I had hoped “Suburgatory” (which I did like quite a bit in its first season) would be another of those, but “Homecoming” feels very much of a piece with last year: the great central relationship between Tessa and George surrounded by a bunch of broad characters, some of whom work (Dallas, Lisa) because they’ve been invested with just enough humanity, some of whom are much less interesting (Noah, the adult Shays) because they’re pure cartoons, and a few cartoons who work (Dalia, Ryan) because they’re just that well-written. (The two funniest gags tonight involved Ryan getting too deep into character and Dalia telling Tessa about all the things a nanny can do for you.)

Though The Leap isn’t readily apparent in tonight’s second season premiere, Suburgatory did have a nice return to form. The Eden disaster is mentioned briefly when Tessa and George meet at the train station upon her return from Manhattan. The quick dispatching of Eden allowed Suburgatory to get back to the old favorites: The George-Tessa relationship, Dalia’s monologues (“You’ll always be a housekeeper.”), and Dallas’ comedic skills. While so much of the episode worked, the episode’s extended stay with the Sheas was a bitter mix of cartoonish behaviors and toxic family dynamics. It’s not fun to watch this family go through their issues. Hopefully, this horrible exercise surrounding Ryan’s adoption can go up in smoke with the Shea’s potting shed.

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