A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fish-out-of-water comedy centers on a self-assured teen who's insightful, outspoken, and willing to stand up to peer pressure for her personal beliefs. Even better, these positive qualities are a direct result of the values instilled in her by her dad, whose devotion to his daughter makes him a model (but certainly not perfect) single parent. That said, the show falls back on stereotypes of suburbanites, socialites, and homosexuals for plenty of laughs, and there's a lot of sexual content that's definitely not appropriate for tweens (marital infidelity, teens talking about having sex, condoms). Language is also a concern ("bitch," "damn," "hell," and the like), as are exchanges between teens that make light of peer pressure and social bullying. If your teen is ready for this kind of content, though, this very funny series raises some discussion points for families and offers sweet moments that underscore themes like tolerance and respect for diversity.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When George (Jeremy Sisto) discovers a box of condoms in his teen daughter's nightstand, he uproots her and moves them both to the "safety" of the suburban town of Chatswin, hoping for a more wholesome life for Tessa (Jane Levy). A single father since Tessa's toddlerhood, George gets a little panicky when he thinks about how fast she's growing up and how living in the big city might be corrupting her, and he's banking on some of their new neighbors being good female influences. Unfortunately, Tessa is resentful of the move and has trouble fitting in among her new peers, whom she sees as pampered by their indulgent, Stepford-esque parents. As time wears on, Tessa begins to carve out her own niche and even starts to make friends, including her socially desperate neighbor, Lisa (Allie Grant), and manages an on-again/off-again cease-fire with her social nemesis, Dalia (Carly Chaikin). As for George, he keeps busy by deflecting the advances of the neighborhood single (and not-so-single) ladies, especially Dalia's newly available mom, Dallas (Cheryl Hines).
Is it any good?
SUBURGATORY has lots of fun parodying wealthy suburban life as seen through the critical eyes of a couple of level-headed newcomers, and Tessa and George's attempts to find a place in such foreign surroundings are both entertaining and relatable to anyone who's ever felt like a social outsider. Kudos to the show's brain trust for going the extra mile, though, and giving some real depth to the characters, reflecting the changing face of the American family without sacrificing positive messages. George's relationship with his teenage daughter toes the line between authority and camaraderie, offering some heartwarming moments offset by enough snarky banter over things like curfew, driving privileges, and dating rules to keep it realistic.
This sitcom's focus on life through the eyes of a teen and her father beckons to viewers who can relate to one or both of the main characters, but the content does have some trouble spots for young teens. Sex (including homosexuality) is a common topic among adults and teens, language is an issue, and stereotypes are fairly harsh. Some teens are catty and manipulative, using other people to get what they want with little regard for their feelings. Predictably all of this content (and then some) is spun for humor, so it's important that viewers don't misinterpret it as a reflection of real life. However, it does raise some issues that will hit home with parents and teens, all while entertaining viewers with razor-sharp writing delivered by a fantastic cast.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about body image. How does being around her new peers make Tessa feel about herself? To what extent is your self-confidence related to the way you look? How does the media influence your impression of the "perfect" body?
Teens: Did Tessa's experiences with her new peers ring true with you? Do you find that people's true character surprise you once you get to know them? Is it tempting to prejudge people? How can you avoid doing so?
How have the dynamics of the America family changed in recent years? What new challenges do families face in staying connected? What happens when communication breaks down? How does technology both positively and negatively affect our ability to stay in touch?
Themes & Topics
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