Review: ‘Suburgatory’ – ‘Chinese Chicken’

A review of last night’s “Suburgatory” coming up just as soon as I all the parks in the miniature city in my basement are clothing-optional…

There were parts of “Chinese Chicken” that felt rushed – both in the rise and fall and rise of George’s dad band and in Tessa’s dismantling of the school’s entire football girlfriend ecosystem – and yet despite that, this was one of my favorite “Suburgatory” episodes to date.

Now, I’m a sucker for musical numbers in my sitcoms, so when you have Ana Gasteyer expertly rocking out to “Barracuda,” or Fred insisting on jumping ahead to the rap bridge of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week,” I’m almost always going to bump the grade up a few notches. More importantly, though, “Chinese Chicken” accomplished something that “Suburgatory” often struggles with in the way it managed to tell a human story about the cartoonish excesses of Chatswin.

Everything about the lives of the football girlfriends was outlandish, yet it worked because it was mainly a story about Tessa’s relationship with Ryan, and because the writers and Parker Young have managed to find the person inside the lunkhead. (Ryan’s sincere, enthusiastic recitation of Amber’s “great story” was perfect, particularly the coda where he said, “That reminds me: I’m supposed to give Renaldo a noogie at 12:45.”) Tessa turns into Norma Rae and shuts down the sweatshop, but it just makes things worse until Ryan shows her how good it feels to run through paper while others cheer for you. I’d have liked to see a bit more of how the rest of the girlfriends were brought back into the fold, but it was a nice moment nonetheless.

I don’t know that the dad band subplot ever connected entirely to the Skylight King problems George was having with Dallas, but I honestly do not care because… Sheila singing Heart. (Enjoy it again below.) That is all that was necessary. But beyond that, this was one of the better uses of Fred and Noah, and a diversion for the guys that felt like an actual suburban thing rather than a thing done only by the impossibly wealthy and stupid.

There are so many tonal forces working against each other on “Suburgatory” that it’s very hard for them to do an episode that’s absolutely perfect, but “Chinese Chicken” came close – and that was even without a second of Dalia.

What did everybody else think?a