Episode 11: Yakult Leader
By: Carlos Uribe
Suburgatory is a show about a teenage girl who is stuck in her version of hell, the suburbs.
There is a certain prevailing feeling throughout the episode that the writers had a lot of great ideas and crammed as many as they could into this episode. This is primarily apparent in the main plot. Tessa is convinced by Sheila to help find a boyfriend for Lisa. The only reason Tessa agrees is because Lisa actually prefers it but then a lot of things happen. This is because the plot never really gets a direction to go in so it bounces from place to place. It might be because the only quality that Lisa looks for in a man is that he has a torso. This is a pretty low bar to set but it makes finding the right man more difficult. It is an unstated fact in life that more options can actually make life more challenging simply because it can be confusing to determine which choice will make one happy. There is then a scene where Sheila tries to interview which boys might be right for her daughter. It's a predictable route for the show take but it adds it's own little twist because she lured almost of them under false pretenses. They all think that they're applying to provide lawn service. This serves for a good laugh but it's completely disjointed from the rest of the episode. The episode then has Lisa get a boyfriend on her own but it turns out to be a middle school student. This leads to a couple of funny gags but it's once again separated from every other element. The final part is where Tessa sets up an online profile for Lisa only to fall in love with the person on paper. That is until she learns that the guy is actually Scott Strauss, her ex-boyfriend that she broke up with because he was boring. She notes that it makes little sense how the perfect person on paper is terrible in real life but the show surprisingly doesn't make the connection how she's dating the worst person on paper for her, Ryan. The normally observant Tessa doesn't seem to realize this. The date doesn't go well and Lisa decides she'll just have to accept being alone for now.
There is a plot throughout the episode but it's made up of disjointed scenes. There are a lot of episodes that could have been created from the ideas that the episode brings up. For instance, the idea of Lisa dating a middle school student could have been a great c-plot along with Sheila's dating interviews. Tessa's online dating could have made a funny main plot on it's own. It's just that all of these ideas exist within the episode but they aren't really connected. Sure, the middle school shows up at the date with Scott, but that's not connecting the events. There are plot points but they're connected by the thinnest of threads. Was the episode funny? It was but it was hurt by the general lack of focus that the main plot had. It would have been a better episode if Tessa had been given some direction to go in at the beginning of the episode which could have driven the narrative. At this points, the plot didn't really feel like it went anywhere. The status quo remained the same and there was minimal character development simply because the plot wasn't there to allow any. Lisa doesn't count as growth because being single hasn't really been shown to have been bothering her nor does it really impact the Suburgatory universe in a significant fashion. Lisa stays single but her decision on how it impacts her character isn't answered simply because the stakes aren't properly set up. Once again, this is because of how disjointed it all is. Having great ideas is one thing but you have to allow each of them room to breath in order to work. Imagine how funny this entire plot arc would have been if it had been spread over several episodes? One episode could have had Lisa dating the middle school student, another could have had Sheila's unique method of finding her daughter dates, and another could have dealt with the online dating situation. It could have allowed Sheila's turmoil of being single actually work as we would have seen what it meant to her. Having one episode where all three happen doesn't do justice to a single one of these ideas.
In other news, the sub-plot generates conflict between George and Dallas. Dallas freaks out because Yakult doesn't seem to be happy ever since her dog walker went to the Werner family. Wait, isn't this identical to the whole Carmen story? Dallas has called in Yoni to try and fix her dog. His general advice is to kick George out of her life because he might be into her but primarily because he wants to stay with her for some weeks. This is because he has a terrible credit score. Yoni blames Yakult's distress on George's negativity but is proven wrong when George decides to walk Yakult. George also takes Dalia walking with him where he learns that she's thinking about converting to judaism and is failing science. The bond between them grows and Yakult's distress only existed because she wasn't getting her daily walks. The sub-plot is nice in developing Dalia and George's relationship but it simply felt a bit repetitive when it came to Dallas and George relationship problems. Can't we have at least one episode where the two are happy together rather than one of them being insecure in their relationship? It's starting to get annoying.
Yakult Leader is a pretty disappointing episode of Suburgatory. The main plot has too many elements to really come together while the sub-plot has officially tired me out of George-Dallas conflict. The episode was still funny but it could have worked a lot better if it didn't have these two major problems. Overall, I'd say the episode was good but it wasn't up to the standard that I have started to hold this show in.