Coming into the second season of Suburgatory, show creator Emily Kapnek had some interesting decisions on the table. With so many ancillary characters playing prominent roles in Chatswin, it became difficult at times to tell a coherent story with the adults. The high schoolers shined while the adults floundered (the George-Eden relationship being the most egregious decision). This season, Kapnek and the writers have appeared to strip away a lot of what was problematic about the show. Shifting away from the craziness provided by a lot of the Chatswin denizens we saw last year has been a great decision for the show in the early going. It has allowed the adults to have richer storylines with higher stakes.
With all of the Chatswin’s crazies taking up screen time last year, the show would have struggled to tell the story of a George-Dallas first date. Now, the show is simplified enough that it can devote a great deal of attention to the relationship. Sure, the storyline surrounding their first date was a pretty obvious TV trope, but it was well executed by competent actors. We have to get all of that early awkwardness out of the way so we can move on to more richer storylines between the two. These two people have earned all the moments that a good relationship can give them. Hopefully, Kapnek and friends don’t turn it into another Chatswin parody.
Tonight’s episode of Modern Family continued a strong run of early episodes. Typically, when the whole family gets together, the results can be mixed. Here, everyone had just enough different things to do on their own to keep the action fast-paced and entertaining. I’m starting to be concerned that Haley’s floating head will continue to make appearances just so Sarah Hyland can keep cashing paychecks. I’m all for people getting paid, but they really have to work hard to shoehorn her into the action. Other than her, the episode operated as sort of a controlled chaos. Everyone got to have their fun before coming together for Gloria’s really hideous ventriloquist act. Perhaps she should have learned to juggle knives like the rest of the girls.
One thing that continues to stand out this season (besides the Claire Dunphy renaissance!) is the show’s really strong trust in Phil. Within the past two weeks, Phil has had a storyline that took him out of the main action. They’re riding him for as much quality work as he can give them. While the 128 Hours spoof didn’t work for me, I can see a scenario where other people get into it.
The Modern Family return to glory continues. However, both Suburgatory and Modern Family can contribute their early season successes to the same thing: Keep it simple and go with what works.
What did everyone else think?