Suburgatory returned this past Wednesday after a 10-month hiatus and down two cast members — three if you count fan-favorite recurring guest Parker Young — but creator Emily Kapnek insists that fans shouldn't be worried about the future of Chatswin.
"From a scheduling standpoint, there was a little bit of shuffling that goes on, but I will say that [ABC President Paul Lee] has been incredibly supportive of our show," she told reporters Friday at the Television Critics Association winter TV previews. "I know that some of the scheduling stuff was hard and they're in the midst of trying to figure out what works where and we're very happy to be on the schedule."
Despite the absence of Rex Lee and Alan Tudyk, the latter of whom will be back for three episodes, Kapnek said scaling back proved beneficial for the series, now in its third season. " I think that again we get to sort of focus a little bit more on our existing characters and dig a little deeper into their relationships. It was a fun challenge," Kapnek said. "We delve deeper into their backstories. We get to meet George's family, we get to meet Dallas' family. We have a really fun episode where Dallas goes back home down south and we get to meet her beloved family members. ... I think everyone feels really good about the season."
Ana Gasteyer joked: "I find Rex and Parker incredibly distracting because I'm deeply attracted to both of them."
Thankfully, Young — who plays Tessa's now-ex-boyfriend Ryan Shay — will also be back this season for three episodes despite his new role on Fox's military comedy Enlisted. "We found a way to bring him back and revisit what's there or what's not there" executive producer Andrew Guest said. "Obviously him and Tessa have enormous chemistry. We didn't want to lose that," Kapnek added. "So I think the three we have him for are pretty satisfying."
Reeling from her breakup from Ryan at the end of last season, Tessa (Jane Levy) won't be the only one suffering from heartache this season. Both her dad, George (Jeremy Sisto) and Dallas (Cheryl Hines) will attempt to bounce back after she suddenly dumped him right before they were supposed to move in together. "This season, Dallas is mad at George because she broke up with him. But she doesn't want to see him with anybody else so she's struggling with that and then she actually hires a matchmaker," Hines said. Although Dallas originally hired the matchmaker for her daughter, Dalia (Carly Chalkin), the matchmaker then tries to help Dallas by making her go on a date ... with herself.
"I think Dallas is going through a real identity crisis this season. for the first time she's with a guy who's demanding she be herself and she doesn't know what that means," Sisto said. " I want to know who the real Dallas is because there's a real Dallas under the makeup." Added Hines: "You're going to get a glimpse under the make-up.
Unlike her "mommy," Dalia won't be lacking in the romance department. "She has an older man in her life that we stumble on," Kapnek said. This new "love of my life," as Chalkin called him, comes after Dalia had feelings for a girl, specifically Tessa's friend, Jenna, last season. "I don't think Dalia feels she should be labeled one way," Guest said. "Her sex life takes an interesting turn in terms of what she's looking for this season and how she is fulfilling it."
Dalia's mystery man isn't the only new addition to the show this year. Sheila and Frey Shay (Chris Parnell) will adopt a young boy, Victor (Bryson Barretto), now that Ryan is off at college. "We need to feel the void that Lisa is still creating by being in our home," Gasteyer joked about her TV daughter, played by Allie Grant. "The Shays adopt a child because they feel empty nest syndrome," executive producer Patricia Breen said. "Fred has someone to share his wisdom with him again."
When asked about the comparison between Victor and another young new family member added later into a sitcom's run — namely The Brady Bunch's infamous Cousin Oliver — Kapnek emphasized the importance of Victor's addition, particularly for Fred. "Fred and Victor have a really strong relationship. They need each other," she said. "He serves a real purpose and I think one of my favorite things is just the closeness you see between the two of them, as they navigate the loss of Ryan and in some ways, for Fred, the loss of Sheila as she gets consumed by work. There, through all of it, is Victor."
Suburgatory airs Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC. What do you think of this season's changes?