It’s a sunny California morning when we meet the cast of Suburgatory, in a Warner Bros. parking lot that is doubling as a Bulk Mart — the faux-equivalent of Costco, presumably.
The Last Song’s Carly Chaikin, dressed in a sequined dress, booties and a gold pleather jacket at 9 AM, keeps tugging at the short skirt as she gets ready to shoot a scene with fellow co-stars Cheryl Hines, Jane Levy, and Jeremy Sisto.
All of a sudden, without even looking up from her phone, Chaikin expertly blends boredom and disgust, uttering, “You have a veiny forehead,” to no one in particular. Though the cast and crew have heard numerous takes of the line, they can’t help but crack up at the non sequitur.
If Suburgatory wasn’t already a sarcastic and comical take on the American suburbs and the mean girls who occupy it, it’s that kind of left field comment that makes ABC’s newest comedy kind of awesome.
The show, as seen through the eyes of 15-year-old Tessa Altman (Levy), is about a girl from lower Manhattan whose single dad, George (Sisto), moves the two of them out of the city and into the suburbs because he thinks she’ll get a less troublesome upbringing there. It’s not exactly a picnic for Tessa, who gets to express most of her disdain in sardonic voiceovers.
“Tessa is not that happy with it,” says Levy. “She’s an urban chick and she feels a little out of place.”
“She basically walks into hell,” adds Chaikin, who personifies hell with utter conviction as fellow high school student Dalia Royce. “Dalia is Malibu Barbie with more mascara and less emotion.”
Outside of high school is a town full of “proactive” moms who have a fondness for short skirts, spray tans, and anything antiaging. Among them is Dallas Royce, Dalia’s mother, played by Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines.
“Dallas likes to keep it sexy,” says Hines, who is also dressed to the nines for her supermarket excursion. “I feel like I know a lot of these people in real life. I’ve met some moms that are a little overdone and try a little to hard to keep it ‘contemporary.’”
It quickly becomes clear that this is not exactly the environment (nor the motherly influences) George Altman pictured for his daughter, but he sticks with his plan all the same.
“I like that this guy committed to this weird thing,” laughs Sisto. “He realizes in the first episode that this might have been an awful mistake, but he’s committing to it anyway.”
And as the season progresses the Altmans may soon find that life in the ‘burbs isn’t all that bad.
“Tessa enjoys herself a lot, which is a common theme,” says Levy. “She starts to slip into the suburban way… And then hates herself for it.”
Suburgatory premieres Wednesday September 28, at 8:30 PM.