Thursday, October 25, 2012

Suburgatory and Tanning

I seem to have limited opportunity to watch television anymore, but one show I try to watch each week is “Modern Family.”  I think it’s hilarious and it offers a nice little 30 minute escape.  After the show I return to reality by cleaning up the dishes or doing the laundry or performing some other real-life task.  I usually leave the room with the TV still on with no intent of really watching it. 

The show that follows “Modern Family” is “Suburgatgory,” a show about a teen girl named Tessa and her dad who moved to a Stepford Wives type of suburban town called Chatswin after having lived in New York City.  It seems like a cute show but it just doesn’t fit my schedule except as background noise as I check the kids’ homework or clean up some cat puke off the carpet. (Yes, this is real life in the suburbs).

However, the show has caught my attention the last two weeks.  On the first episode of the season, Tessa (played by gorgeous-skinned ginger Jane Levy) returns back to Chatswin after spending the summer in NYC with her grandmother “while everyone was cultivating Stage 3 skin cancer at the Chatswin Country Club.” When this line was stated in the dialogue, the camera showed two of the series stars sun bathing poolside at the club while the housekeeper desperately tried to spray sun screen on their skin. 
Very subtle, but considering that many of the town’s residents are portrayed as self-serving and shallow folk, it was actually a very good commentary.  I hope those that watched it caught the real message…sunbathing is stupid and causes cancer!

The second episode was a Halloween show.  I didn’t catch a lot of it, but apparently there was a rumored witch in town.  The witch followed Tessa throughout the episode and in the end it was revealed that she was merely a nature-loving feminist with opinions opposite of one of the town’s main residents. 
The haggard-looking lady said, “I’m just a 45 year old woman who hasn’t had any work done.”  Tessa questioned, “Only 45, eh?” to which the witch replied, “Yeah, I did a lot of sun.  I didn’t know how damaging it was back then.”

Having not watched this show during its freshman year, I’m not sure whether such anti-tanning comments are common or even intentional, but I have to applaud the writers.  Such subtle, almost subliminal jokes and statements like this are just as effective against tanning as a 30-minute PSA.  If this show includes a little dig against tanning even every other episode, fans of the show will start to think the same way.  Imagine if other shows and popular movies would work in similar messages!

Thank you “Suburgatory” and keep making those digs at tanning.


  1. I did watch it the first season, and I don't remember as many anti- tanning messages. But then again, I hadn't been diagnosed with melanoma yet, so it may not have roused the feelings I get now, when it comes to tanning and safe sun. It is a great show, and I hope it has a huge fan base of young girls. They need all the messages they can get.

  2. That's awesome! I've never watched that show, but I totally agree. My friend and I were just talking about how shows like glee should integrate "subtle" messages like this. I may have to check out an episode now.