|Jeremy Soto, Jane Levy|
Still, even while it strained to be funny and cooler than cool, it was undeniably well made.
It looks great with its bright, pretty Pasadena (or thereabouts) setting improbably standing in for a New York City suburb.
Its story is touching and believable. Single dad George (Jeremy Soto) tries to give his smart and sarcastic teenage daughter Tessa (Jane Levy) the best life he can. To him, that means dragging her out of New York City to idyllic suburbs.
Suburgatory last season started out strong enough that we here at TVFirstLook gave it the runner-up spot for the first annual The Besties for best comedy. (The Besties best comedy winner was Allen Gregory. "Allen Gregory?" Yeah, don't be a hater).
But, most significant for its second season starting tonight, the Suburgatory team made a smart move as its first season unfolded. The show became less constrained by its dad-daughter premise and broadened out quite literally to George and Tessa's neighborhood.
The show breathed easier as the humor came from broadly drawn characters, like nosy neighbor Sheila Shay (Ana Gasteyer) and over-the-top sexy Dallas Royce (Cheryl Hines), more often than it relied on Jeremy and Jane to deliver laughs.
The show's shift to its characters has helped it morph from a comedy trying too hard to be funny to a pretty good comedy. Period.