“The Barbecue” feels very similar to the pilot, which is a good thing since almost every part of the pilot worked. The episode begins in a completely different world, Suburgatory, which Tessa attempts to navigate. It’s a surreal place where every expectation is offset by the wacky. Then, the episode dives deeper into the characters and both Tessa and her father learn more about themselves and the world they’re in. It’s never perfect in the end, but also not as bad as in the beginning.
With this structure, Suburgatory can pretty much do anything. There can be scenes like the beginning when Tess and George try to escape Sheila or Ryan washing the car in a cartoonish manner, and then there are the scenes when Tess tries to figure things out and come to grasps with this world. It works out quite nicely with all the brightness and swift pacing.