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TV Tropes Mondays: Suburbia


Tweet of the Day: She Saved the World A Lot

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The Burbs,

The Suburbs,

Edgetowns,

Levitttowns,

A car, 2.5 kids and a dog on the yard,

High school dances, PTA meetings, stay at home moms, working dads, supermoms, stay at home dads,

Family values, family dysfunction, the odd serial killer, pedophile or dark cult.

Church going on Sundays, Internet Porn Monday through Fridays.

Segregation.

White Flight.

Good schools, great parks, friendly neighbors, except for the Johnsons.

And a few Hellmouths to boot.

Welcome to Suburbia. Number of inhabitants? You.

The tropes page (linked to above) does a good job of explaining the growth of modern North American suburbia although it leaves out some of the suburbs carved out inside cities like Ancient Rome and 19th century London, using contract law/property law (zoning, restrictive covenants and other instruments) to create gated communities within or near the reach of the city center.

It also became the preferred setting for many TV shows since the 1950’s as art emulated life and shaped life in turn. The recursive impact of media on suburbia is often alluded to in art, but rarely taken head on. It is easier to parody suburbia than to face the reality of where your audience comes from. Who buys (or pirates) the music, movies, TV and internet content that fuels modern media? Suburbanites of course. Nor is it easy to confront the fact that while suburbs may have been born out of post-war necessity, they continue because of how the media made them the “new normal.” Escaping to the farm or the big city might be fun, but media always pushes its audience back to the tracks of cookie cutter houses that makes Toronto and L.A. suburbs so attractive to Hollywood producers, i.e. unless you live there, you can’t tell the difference between your suburbs and the ones on screen.

This is so pervasive, that suburbia thrives in places where there is little place for it, such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico, islands with high population densities and little room to build horizontally. If, as a writer, you are thinking about tackling this tired setting, that might be the way to go.

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2 comments on “TV Tropes Mondays: Suburbia

  1. Interesting: I suppose I live in a kind of suburbia; it’s pretty cosmopolitan btu comfortable. It has its ups, it has its downs.

    • Well, I am a child of the suburbs so it is my natural habitat. Although ironically the suburbs of the UK resemble more the burbs of Puerto Rico (one story houses close together) than the typical U.S./Canadian version. I think living in an island changes things.

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