Suburgatory

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Suburgatory TV Poster Image
Edgy, satirical comedy is fun for older teens, adults.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive messages

Family dynamics, friendship, and social pressure to conform are explored, resulting in positive messages about individuality and self-esteem. While mean-girl attitudes and bullying are common among teens -- and most of the supporting characters (especially the women) are stereotyped as divas, mom types, and geeks -- the cast's lack of diversity is intentional, meant to take a jab at the "white-washed" nature of suburban life.

Positive role models & representations

Tessa tries to be open-minded about her new surroundings while holding tight to her values and self-image. George puts his daughter's needs first. Stereotypes among the supporting cast are extensive but, in some cases, draw attention to the show's positive social messages.

Violence
Sex

Mostly inferences and innuendo, including mention of teens' sexual activity, adult infidelity, "screwing," homosexuality, "vagitarian," "nympho," and paraphernalia like "rubbers" or condoms. Teen girls dress provocatively in revealing tops and short skirts, and in some cases, their moms encourage them to sex up their outfits to appeal to guys. Heavy flirting is common by both adults and teens, and some couples do engage in make-out sessions.

Language

Occasional use of words like "damn," "bitch," and "hell."

Consumerism

Red Bull is the drink of choice for many of the characters, and the dialogue often draws attention to its prevalence in a way that pokes fun at their "addiction."

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Some exchanges include references to smoking pot. Drinking in all forms (mixed concoctions, champagne, beer, wine) is common among adults.

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.

User Reviews

Adult Written bybig jess crush October 20, 2011

great

i dont get why all these parents are complaining about this show me and my siblings have watched it for the past 4 weeks and have not had that big of a problem... Continue reading
Adult Written bydiet cheery dr peper October 14, 2011

pretty cute

i am a man with a 11 year old brother we both watch this together and i think this is a very clever and also very funny family comedy thats right i said a fam... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymovierocker October 7, 2011

OK, just depends on your kid

Great show, just not approprate for kids. They talk alot about condoms and kissing lesbians and also some making out under the bleachers!
Teen, 13 years old Written byiknowthis March 31, 2012

Funny

Personally I think this should be TV-14 because it has a lot of material that kids would question. There's talk about sex and some language and drinking th... Continue reading

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? 

TV details

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