Sunday, April 7, 2013

Suburgatory

Suburgatory
Episode 19: Decemberfold
By: Carlos Uribe

Suburgatory is a show about a teenage girl who is stuck in her version of hell, the suburbs.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Wow.

Let's start with the George plot because it's where the title of the episode comes from. It begins with Dallas complaining about how George never does anything silly for the sake of it. He's a very serious person who looks down on fun stuff. This is all to set up the plot where George agrees to be in a sexy dad calendar for the country club. He wants to prove to Dallas that he's capable of having fun but he quickly starts to take it very seriously. When he's told that he could be Decemberfold material, he starts to get excited about the idea that he could get the most coveted spot on the calendar. That is until he takes his shirt off and the judges decide that he might be better for March. This upsets him so he decides to do his best to get his chest in shape so that he looks as good as possible when they take the pictures. This involves throwing out all junk food and using soda cans as weights. He gets so into it that he starts avoiding activities with his girlfriend. He doesn't want to do go watch a movie with Dallas so he can keep his metabolism up. He's basically being a terrible boyfriend. He does end up getting the spot but that's when he remembers what's really important. It's not this silly calendar but his girlfriend. It's sweet that he goes back to her and goes back to normal. It's a silly conflict but it felt odd that Dallas was complaining about George's sudden superficiality. Dallas might have taken a stand against greed in the last episode but it's not like she's completely given up making herself look good. She's still a superficial person. The conflict between them doesn't work but George taking the calendar too seriously did. I felt like the show could have done a lot more work if they had been able to draw a contrast between normal George and superficial George more. They tried to do this with Dallas but the only character who could possibly pull it off was Tessa. Overall, it was a good and funny plot even if the relationship conflict felt a bit off.


The real meat has to do with Dalia. I'm going to begin by stating that Dalia has basically always been my favorite character on this show. Her monotonic delivery and stone-faced reactions create a character that can basically sell any joke. Her character hasn't always had a lot of depth but the writers have slowly been turning her more human. She might be materialistic to the extreme but she does have serious daddy issues. It's funny that she's adopted George as “Daddy-Altman” but he has really become her father figure. This episode takes her into more of a sociopathic, maybe even incestuous, turn if Jenna is right. It all begins when Dalia catches Tessa hanging out with Jenna. It seems like business as usual as they trade insults but then Dalia shows up the next morning to walk Tessa to school. She basically pretends to be her friend by stalking Tessa and tweeting what they're doing. It gets to the point where Tessa confronts Dalia to get to the truth. It turns out that Dalia used to be friends with Jenna back in the day. When Jenna's Brown friends decided that Jenna was too good for Dalia, they stopped hanging out. Dalia was trying to be publicly friends with Tessa so that Jenna would notice. Seems pretty typical, right? It not only makes sense but Dalia is showing some vulnerability. That is until the real plot twists come.

You see Dalia and Jenna were close. I didn't mean they were best friends who braided their hair and talked about boys. I mean they would hook up. Jenna broke things off and Dalia was hurt. When Dalia asks Tessa to stop being friends with Jenna, she was actually trying to keep an ex-girlfriend from having any social life in Chatswin. This is pretty surprising news. When Dalia finds out that Tessa is still friends with Jenna, you get the sense that Dalia is actually hurt. Is Jenna right in that Tessa needs to watch her back? Or is Dalia really trying to follow Tessa's advice to get over it? Jenna likes to define Dalia as a sociopath who only cares about hurting the people who hurt her. She might be right but do we really know who she is? The characters at the beginning of the episode have commented that Jenna seems like a nice person but they don't really know who she is. What complicates matters is if Dalia is over Jenna or not. It's implied she isn't but she's currently dating that Jewish kid. On the other hand, Dalia made sure to tweet our her tattoo of him. Was that tattoo aimed at hurting Jenna? The ending adds a whole other layer when Lisa discovers a drawer filled with pictures of Dalia and George followed with fake paper tweets. Dalia intimidates Lisa in that final cliff-hanger scene but there's a lot of question to what it means. All of this mystery can be tricky because it could be bad writing but the whole point is we don't know what Dalia's deal is. We don't know if she's having those pictures because she really considers George to be her new dad or because she wants to sleep with him or wants to steal him from Tessa. We don't know. That's actually a good thing because it makes me want to see the next episode more.

The Suburgatory season is winding down. We only have one more episode before the one-hour finale. It looks like the end of the season is going to be centered around Dalia and I must welcome that. I have legitamtely no idea where the writers are going to take us with Dalia as it could be anywhere. Decemberfold was a pretty brilliant episode of Suburgatory. The calendar plot was funny but the relationship conflict could have used some work. It's really everything it did with Dalia that makes the episode stand out. It's not just that it really makes you wonder who Dalia really is but because she simply made the episode so funny. There is really nothing funnier than when the show puts Dalia and Tessa in the same scenes. It was a good sign when Tessa went downstairs to eat breakfast and saw Dalia. Her only response was to ask why-a question that opened up the mystery that is Dalia Royce. Decemberfold is definably one of the better episodes of the season.

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