Episode 10: Chinese Chicken
By: Carlos Uribe
Suburgatory is a show about a teenage girl who is stuck in her version of hell, the suburbs.
It is said that you don't just marry a person but their family as well. This makes perfect sense but what often goes unsaid is that when you start dating a person, that usually means that their friends will now be in your social circle as well. As in, you're not just dating a person but their social life as well. This becomes the case for Tessa when she starts to date Ryan. Their relationship quickly becomes public at the school which quickly leads to Tessa's ascension into the high school football girlfriend status. The only reason that Tessa puts up with it in the first place is because she doesn't want to be seen as a smug or negative person. She allows herself to be recruited into doing football girlfriend duties such as making the banner that the players run through or doing their schoolwork for them. The girlfriend doesn't live for herself but to please their boyfriends. The show goes as far as to rob them of their own identity when one of the girlfriends barely remembers her own name. She merely refers to herself as the girlfriend to a player. Their dedication is so committed that a girl with a bleeding hand is doing work on the banner rather than going to the hospital. Are the girlfriends' dedication towards being there for their boyfriends being taken into a cartoonish level by the show? Absolutely but it goes to show how dating a particular person can make you lose sight of yourself. Tessa tries her best to fulfill her expected responsibilities as a football girlfriend but she can't help but rebel. She has lived in the twenty first century where women are able to lead their own lives on top of dating whoever they want. She emancipates them.
This sets the girlfriends on the other extreme. They don't finish their poster or do the schoolwork for the boyfriends. They abandon their post completely. This leads to the players rushing into a pep rally but finding themselves without the support they need to have confidence in themselves. Take away this confidence and they can't with the games. They cease to function because Tessa inadvertently took away their support group. Ryan is forced to admit that maybe football girlfriends should have a life of their own but he also allows Tessa what it feels like to have people cheering for you. The message is pretty clear through this conclusion. Tessa is right that the girlfriends should be able to have an identity and life separate from whom their dating but they still need to be there for their boyfriends. They need to show up and support the football players because nobody else will. Dating someone is not just dedicating yourself to that person or living your life as you would have before. It's doing a little of both. This might require some sacrifice but in the end it's worth it because it's nice to have someone who stands with you. This is ultimately what the main plot about: it's Tessa learning not necessarily what it means to specifically be a football player girlfriend but a girlfriend in general. This is more important once you realize just how independent Tessa is. If she wants to date Ryan, she has to accept that she has to lose some of her independence. That's not necessarily a bad thing-because when you support someone, their victories become yours.
There are also times when you might push too hard to support the person you're in a relationship with. That just happens with Dallas this week. She just bought a seven-thousand dollar printer so she decides to justify it's cost by printing out fliers to support George's business. This only pushes him away because he feels like Dallas is trying to change him. It's a case if misinterpreted intentions that creates a certain tension between them. George decides to relieve himself of this tension by starting a dad band with Noah and Fred. This plan is derailed when Sheila shows that she's pretty talented and can make their band to go from “dad band good” to “actually good”. George's dreams and aspirations to be a rock star come surging back as he forces the band in a different direction. He invites Sheila to join the band. Noah and Fred quit at this point because this goes against the very nature of why they joined the band but George is okay with this. The dreams come shattering down when Dallas learns that Sheila is in the band. She doesn't understand how it could be a “dad” band but have Sheila as the lead singer. It's some great points that lead to an honest conversation between the two of them. George learns that Dallas wasn't trying to change him but just justify the cost of buying an expensive product. Dallas learns that George is insecure about his financial situation. In the end, George brings back the dad band and Dallas gets to use her printer to promote it. There's a happy ending to this situation because it allowed them to express their concerns.
Chinese Chicken is pretty great episode of Suburgatory that explored what it means to be in a relationship. Tessa learned that it's important to be there for your boyfriend while Ryan learned that he shouldn't expect obedience from his girlfriends. Dallas realized that she can't cheer for George too much before it just feels like adding pressure while he learned that Dallas doesn't mean to change him. By concentrating on these two strong relationships, the show is able to build a good core that led to a fantastic and hilarious episode.