When Suburgatory left for its winter break, the show left us in a place that showcased some of the best of what a sitcom can do. We got a great look at what family really means through the eyes of Tessa and her parents, the Royces and their housekeeper, and the crazy Shays and their adopted son Ryan. The meditation on what it means to be an out of the loop teenager or a parent striving to do what’s right is when Suburgatory is at its best. That being said, in a 22-episode season, no sitcom is going to reach back and throw their best fastball every week. It’s relatively impossible. Therefore, a show like Suburgatory that has earned the trust of its viewers (somewhat) can be forgiven for the occasional descent into pure silliness.
That’s what most of last night episode really was. Don’t get me wrong, Suburgatory‘s silliness still has plenty of funny moments.* Unfortunately, it’s practically the only way that the show can service some of the characters. The Warners and Shays personify the caricature aspects of Chatswin, and both them got a lot of screen time last night. I’ve enjoyed Ryan Shay’s adoption storyline, but I wish the show would have focused more on his side of it instead of the crazy lengths his family was willing to go to get him back. For the Warners, I respect the crushing disappoint parents feel when they find out their child is average (some never accept it), but the use of Rex Lee as the baby whisperer only proves that the show really doesn’t have anything for him to do. It’s a continuing problem the show doesn’t address: With the exception of George and Dallas, the show doesn’t seem interested in developing the adult characters. The teenagers are drawn beautifully, but the vast majority of adults on the series have very little to no shading. As the show progresses, it is going to need more from these characters. Long running sitcoms are always successful at putting bit characters in the A story and letting them carry it on occasion. Emily Kapnek may have a long term scheme for the fringe characters in the series, but she hasn’t shown it yet.
*The best one: The hip-hop dance off. I don’t think there is a situation where two suburban white kids reenacting a scene from Stomp the Yard isn’t funny.
Overall, this episode struck me as a simple ease in to the second half of the season. What did everyone else think?