It’s a little bit “Stepford Wives” with a dash of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and even a dollop of “Clueless,” but most of all ABC’s new sitcom “Suburgatory” shows Jeremy Sisto stepping out of the dark and in the light in his first TV comedy.
“Suburgatory” is about a single dad, George Altman (Sisto) who moves his teenage daughter (Tessa, played by Jane Levy) from Manhattan to a fictional suburban town after he finds condoms on her drawer. The show is narrated by the smart and insightful Tess as she navigates her way through a world of superficiality.
It’s almost full-circle for Sisto, who first gained notoriety in film “Clueless,” where, like in “Suburgatory,” plastic moms and teenage nose jobs were the norm. Sisto played Elton in the 1995 movie, before letting his darker side take over his career in such memorable roles as the intense Billy Chenowith on “Six Feet Under” and the serious Detective Cyrus Lupo in “Law & Order.”
“I’m a pretty silly person with the people that I’m close to,” Sisto told us after the TCA panel this morning when asked if this lighter side is a part of his personality he’s been hiding. “Even on the set of ‘Law & Order,’ it was a lot of joking around. So it’s really fun to be doing something like this.”
Sisto added that since it’s not a comedy with constructed set-up jokes, it’s easier for him to make the transition. “It’s a character situation and the comedic edge, or the lighter take on it, just allows me to come at it from a different angle and have what is feeling like more fun with it for me right now.”
Show creator Emily Kapnek mined HBO and Showtime gold when she put together her dream cast. The show has Cheryl Hines from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as a suburban blonde Dallas Royce; Rex Lee from “Entourage” as school counselor Mr. Wolf; Allie Grant from “Weeds” (she doesn’t know if she’ll be back on that show, by the way) as geeky girl Lisa Shay; and of course the lead actress, Jane Levy from “Shameless.”
When asked if hiring the cable stars was due to a desire to give “Suburgatory” an edge for ABC, Kapnek told the press, “Yeah, for sure. I think that this is sort of the dream team for me. I definitely feel like I won the lottery with this cast. Coming at it from a different perspective in terms of casting as well and having actors who like Jeremy, who don’t necessarily come from the half hour comedy world, or like Allie who come from the cable world, I think it gives it different kind of teeth and a different kind of edge and grounds it in a way that I think makes it feel sort of fresh and otherworldly for a half hour comedy, yeah.”
“Suburgatory” debuts on ABC on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 8:30/7:30c.