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Tessa Altman (Jane Levy)

"Pretty ironic that a box full of rubbers landed me in a town full of plastic"
— Tessa about the Condomgate, the incident that consisted in her father finding condoms in her room, causing them to move out.

  • Broken Pedestal: Her reaction to George giving her happiness less importance than he gives to Eden, and to him sending her with him in Chatswin. She had one with her mother and her mother's family too, ever since she is born. This worsens when she is deprived of Dallas, her new found mother figure...
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  • Brutal Honesty: When she doesn't think it will be hurtful, she does this. She increasingly begins to use Tactful Translation as everyone's vulnerability in Chatswin begins to show, because she realizes Chatswin's inhabitants are not quite the superficial heartless bastards she though they were.
  • Cute Bruiser: A tomboy who kicks Dalia's ass.
  • Cool Loser: Somewhat Justified in that she's like this because she doesn't want anything to do with most of the people in Chatswin. There's also the fact that Dalia takes an immediate dislike to her, and early-on makes a point of ridiculing her to other classmates, so even if she wanted to fit in, Dalia prevented her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: See The Snark Knight. It's both a defense mechanism in an hostile place and her way of fighting probably deeper emotions than what she lets on. This leads to Dramatic Deadpan.
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  • Depending on the Writer: Its stated early on in the show she has no athletic ability at all, to the point she is failing physical education, which she blames on her upbringing in NYC meaning she never got real exercise. Later, she's shown to be tough-enough to beat Dallas, under the assumption that growing up in NYC 'made her tough' and she merely lost her edge thanks to growing complacent.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Repeatedly on the receiving end. Having a box of condoms in her drawers (which might not have even been her's)? She has to uproot her entire life to a town she doesn't fit in. Gets a bit Soap Box Sadie on her classmates? They completely miss the point and she ends up humiliated. Wears the wrong boots? Labelled a lesbian for the rest of her school life.
  • Expy: Some people think she is close from Daria. She was compared to Ginger from As Told by Ginger on the main page (both shows are created by Emily Kapnek).
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  • Extreme Doormat: Strangely acts like this for Lisa, who is otherwise the Butt-Monkey. Because Lisa is so picked on, Tessa treats her with kindness and understanding, even when Lisa lashes out at her, treats her unfairly, slut-shames her for being attracted to Ryan, abandons her for popularity and then clearly warns her she'll do it again in a heartbeat.
  • The Face: Just like Dalia, she has a knack for targeting a given audience with marketing.
  • First-Name Basis: She always calls her father "George."
  • Generation Xerox: She may take the sarcasm from her grandmother or from her mother. Her physical resemblance with the first is mentioned by George. The resemblance with her grandmother is proved via a very similar looking actress, who snarks as much as Jane Levy.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Ultimately Tessa is probably one of the most moral and righteous people in town, but she's a bit of a jerk about it.
  • Hidden Depths: Initially comes off as a snarky, somewhat bratty teenager, but its clear she's a Nice Girl underneath. Everyone assumes she's a lesbian because of her tomboyish exterior, but she proves to be quite feminine after all. There's also the fact that being raised by a single father causes her to have deep-seated Mommy Issues she doesn't even realise are there.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: In the Pilot, after initially being a snarky jerk to most others, she shows nothing but kindness to Lisa when she sees her getting bullied.
  • Insufferable Genius: Her attitude to the vapid and shallow Chatswin makes her appear like this to them. When running for Student Body President, her anti-physical education platform (born primarily off of her lack of athletic ability and the Jerk Jock celebrating town) gets her labelled as 'racist against jocks', and when she tries to point out being a Jerk Jock isn't a race, it just makes it worse in their eyes.
  • Missing Mom: Which leads to Mommy Issues.
  • Mistaken for Gay: By Dalia and Lisa. Because she's a tomboy. And because of her boots...
  • Mr. Vice Guy : Tessa is understanding, constant, supporting, and selfless, but her major superiority complex makes her oblivious to the others feelings, because she thinks that they can't be deep.
  • Only Sane Man: Chatswin is a town of vapid and spoiled idiots, and George can be pretty blind to how toxic a town it really is. A lot of comedy derives largely from her trying to explain something simple like 'don't waste food' or 'respect yourself' and being met with confusion.

George Altman (Jeremy Sisto)

"Yes, I'm a dad, but I am also... a dude"

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Because of Tessa's statements, it might be inferred that he and Tessa's mother are Jewish.
  • Big Man on Campus: Was one in his past. Despite being this, he still befriended Noah in college, who at the time was considered a loser, in-spite of getting shit from his friends for it. As a result, Noah cares deeply for their friendship.
  • Bumbling Dad: Moves out each time his daughter risks to lose his virginity. Whenever the topic of her having any degree of independence, he tends to freak out and avoids it, and as a result makes things worse.
  • Casanova Wannabe: As pointed out by Dallas, whom he thinks is liking him a lot. She likes him, but is not as easy to seduce and willing to go out with him as he thinks.
  • Ship Tease: With Dallas, endlessly. A little bit with Sheila and with the waitress he goes out with.
  • Team Dad: Mostly with Lisa and Malik.

Sheila Shay (Ana Gasteyer)

"I don't hit them because it's fun, although it is. I hit them so that the whole garden shine"
— Sheila talking about the weak flowers in her garden.

  • Alliterative Name: Sheila Shay.
  • Alpha Bitch: An adult variation; George quickly realises that she rules over the other mothers within the PTA with an iron grip.
  • Gossipy Hens: She all but admits it early on.
  • Happily Married: Though her imagination wanders, she repeatedly assures Fred that she's deeply in love and happy with him.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Best exemplified in "The Witch of East Chatswin" and "The Chatterer". She takes a strong dislike towards George entering the PTA and seems to assume that, as a man, Tessa must be lacking in proper maternal care. Meanwhile, she's spear-headed the exile of the titular 'witch' simply because she was a feminist, and Sheila twisted everything she did as evidence of her evil.
  • Hidden Depths: She wanted to get a child via adoption, and though she was over the top in proving she would provide a healthy environment, she began to cry during the shooting of the video. It was Played for Laughs, but Lisa's "It's disgusting", watching the video, bordered a Tear Jerker.
  • My Beloved Smother: Played With as she and her husband will constantly smother their son Ryan, but he seems to like it. The fact they don't smother Lisa is a big part of why she's so screwed up.
  • Parental Favoritism: To Ryan, though she does treat her daughter decently. Her more realistic, critical and blunt treatment of Lisa is still contrasting.

Dallas Royce (Cheryl Hines)

"Get this driver's license or die trying... Maybe it's a bad advice..."
— Dallas, to her daughter.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: You don't want to see her angry, especially after finding another woman's panties (especially larger ones while she works so hard to be small) in possession of her husband.
  • Catchphrase: "I am a full grown woman, George! FULL GROWN!" It is even reprised by George.
  • The Cutie: She is an adorable mom who wants the best for her daughter and everyone else. She is also warm and generally innocent.
  • Doting Parent: Upto Eleven... Basically, everything is an excuse to give her daughter the self-esteem and appreciation she deserves.
    • And then, it gets subverted with a hard Why Are You Not My Son? speech to Tessa in front of Dalia. And then she gives a gentler I wish my daughter would be a bit more like her compliment to Tessa in front of Dalia.
  • Gossipy Hens: Harmless, but aware of all the gossips in town.
  • Good Parents/Parents as People: Loving, but oblivious to some problems her daughter cause.
  • Hidden Depths: You thought that she would put up with being cheated on for the money and would let her daughter get things that she thinks are not good ? You were kinda wrong.
  • Idiot Savant/Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Can talk with her dog, take care of a store, being very aware of etiquette, and manage very well in life, but can't get that A) She doesn't need surgery to be beautiful B) She needs more true friends, like George and Tessa C) Dalia is Dangerous with a capital D for people whom she doesn't like.
  • Nightmare Face: Dallas has a reaction to a beauty treatment in the Valentine's Day episode that makes her look like a Barbie doll that was put in a microwave.
  • Parental Obliviousness: As pointed out in Idiot Savant at first, until she gets awareness of some of her daughter's bad points, at which point she goes from one extreme to another, judging Dallas hardly.
  • Parental Substitute: To Tessa. Early on she gives Tessa her first real taste of maternal affection, and later on becomes Tessa's go-to mother figure.

Lisa Shay (Allie Grant)

"Can I excuse myself for I'm having a terrible time ?"
— Lisa trying to leave dinner.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Immediately seen. She appears to be a timid, easily bullied girl, but then lashes out when someone seemingly lower on the totem pole approaches. Then when she lets Tessa in only to think she's betrayed their budding friendship by kissing Ryan, she gives her a very strong Tranquil Fury-laden "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her.
  • Black Sheep: Her parents make it clear they favor her brother more than her.
  • Butt-Monkey: The popular students see her as such, at least when she's not useful to them. Her family treat her much the same way.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Very wise, very funny (through her humor), very unconventional, very insecure.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: She seems to be an awkward geek, but proves several times she's surprisingly tough and scary.
  • Dawson Casting: Averted. Allie Grant was probably the only actress at the time even remotely cloe to her character's age.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Over the top favoritism towards her brothers while her parents make it clear they are just stuck with her.
  • Hidden Depths: Mostly positives, as she reveals to be kinder, stronger and braver than what could be thought.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Often realizes that she could take a Good Is Not Nice Clock King Emotionless Girl approach to things, and shows the same kind of cold calculative brillance as her mother - then goes for the Lovable Coward Extreme Doormat Cloud Cuckoo Lander option.
  • Internalized Categorism : She thinks herself inferior, because she is in the standards of her family to Ryan. She also does because she disagrees with this standards, thinks her family is inferior to the rest of the world, thus feeling inferior because of association.
  • Lovable Coward: She straight up admits to Tessa and Malik, when returning to them after abandoning them for a shot at popularity, that if she could do it all again...she would in a heartbeat.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In-part why she initially rejects Tessa's friendship; as Tessa was already Mistaken for such, she didn't want to be associated with her and risk being labelled as gay as well, given what it would do to her (already lacking) popularity. It was evidently not an issue, as a throwaway line from her brother Ryan indicates the school already thinks she's gay.
  • The Unfavorite: Her driving character trait. No matter what, Ryan has always came first, and she really resents it. The one time her parents even begin to show her attention, she becomes so intoxicated with it she chases it like an addict.

Dalia Royce (Carly Chaikin)

Tessa: I'm sorry. I guess it must be painful.
— Tessa and Dalia talking together after Dalia's latest (arguably) Disproportionate Retribution.

  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Dalia Oprah Royce.
  • Emotionless Girl: She's such The Stoic that Tessa is genuinely surprised the first time she sees her really smile. As a symbol of everything wrong with Chatswin, her inability to smile reinforces the synthetic, plastic nature of the town.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Never directly hurts her mother.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Her mother, her father, her kangaroo, Carmen and (momentarily) her boyfriend.
  • The Face: Campaign manager and party organizer while being a 16 year-old.
  • Freudian Excuse: Played straight...
    • Augmented when you realize that she hid her homosexual tendencies in very repressed suburbia by becoming the chief of a bigoted group and ruling her school.
  • Girl Posse: She leads one, built up of Kimantha, Kenzie, and Kaitlin, whom Tessa dubs "The KKK".
  • Girly Bruiser: To Constrast with Cute Bruiser Tessa. In their fight, she's able to give to Tessa several hits.
  • Hidden Depths: Very kind to Tessa when she helps her with her boyfriend. In the closet about her bissexuality, Hates Being Alone, and likes the two Altman.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As much as she bullies Tessa and talks down to others, she's got some inner decency and can sometimes put her hostilities aside to do the right thing.
  • Ms. Imagination: Strangely, as she sounded very conformist and socially tuned at first. She goes into two inner Indulgent Fantasy Segue, and has a very personal vision of the world, eventually asking to adopt a pet kangaroo and accepting others's extravagance as long as she likes it.
  • The Resenter: To Tessa about their Love Interest, and to Yukolt because she draws her mother's attention...
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Repeatedly, to the point 'Beyotch' is pretty much her catchphrase. At one point, she makes a threatening rap towards Tessa, describing the spelling of "Dumb" using each letter as a point, and when Tessa points out she forgot B, she retorts that the B is for Beyotch.

Mr Wolfe (Rex Lee)

Tessa: But Ryan is just so...
Mr. Wolfe: Listen, Tessa. When people see me, they think I am North Korean. But what they don't see is that I am also South Korean."
— Tessa about her new boyfriend and Mr Wolfe about something completely else, apparently.

  • The Cutie: A well-meaning romantic and childish man trying to cope with his sexual orientation and social pressure.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Right before he comes out. Tessa didn't even realise he was in the closet until she noticed him doing that.

Noah Werner (Alan Tudyk)

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: He cares greatly about George because, when they were younger, George was the Big Man on Campus and put up with getting crap from his friends for hanging out with Noah, who was a loser back in the day. Now, Noah puts up with crap from the other suburbanites for hanging out with the working class George, and uses a loophole to get George membership into the country club.
  • Berserk Button: Try calling him a "pompous baby." Go ahead, try.
  • Out of Focus: In the third season.
  • Brutal Honesty: Has no filter and will tell George, and to a lesser extent Dallas and Tessa, whatever he's thinking.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Compliments Tessa's over-the-top Ms. Fanservice outfit despite her being younger than his daughter and underage, but he sees her as like a niece and wouldn't actually make a move, and treats both her and Dalia like he would his own daughter.
  • Happily Married: Ultimately in the first season. Both him and his wife are pretty toxic, but they're toxic in a way that compliments one-another. They split in season 2. Jill eats her feelings, while Noah spends obscene amounts of money on his son and goes to a therapy session that leaves him an Extreme Doormat.
  • Henpecked Husband: At first. Jill treats him like trash and because he's so desperate to be loved, he takes it. He does, however, prove to be able to match her toxicity when he needs to.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: He's got quite the sexual appetite, though given his wife travels so much and gives him so little physical attention, its more just a demonstration of him wanting to be loved.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Him and George are quick to make fun of one-another at times. See him using George as his halloween costume one year for example. However, George is also his Only Friend and he greatly cares for that friendship.

Fred Shay (Chris Parnell)

Ryan Shay (Parker Young)

  • Abhorrent Admirer: His oafishness and meat-headed exterior makes him abhorrent to Tessa, while he thinks he's in love with her.
  • The Brainless Beauty: Probably the most idiotic character in the show, but he's also in such good shape the entire town celebrates his perfect body.
  • Characterisation Marches On: The first episodes indicated he was an idiotic Big Brother Bully Jerk Jock who had little respect for women and had a gross sense of humour, but with possible Hidden Depths that prove he's more sensitive than he appears to be. The Hidden Depths and his idiocy end up being the only traits that remain, as he quickly becomes a Nice Guy who supports his sister, but is quite immature for his age and suffers a bit from toxic role models.
  • The Ditz: When Tessa calls their make-out session cliché, he asks if that's the name of a singer.
  • Dumb Is Good: He really can be sweet sometimes.
  • Happily Adopted: When he finds out, he's not so happy about it. He goes back to this trope when he realizes just how much his family loves him.
  • Heroic BSoD: Goes absolutely nuts when he finds out he's adopted.
  • Popular Is Dumb: The most popular guy in the town and also the dumbest.
  • Ship Tease: With Tessa. At first reluctantly on her part, she hates that she finds him attractive, until she realises he's a Nice Guy who's just a bit of an idiot.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Light on the stalking, but when Lisa's delusional concern for her makes him think Tessa is in need of help, he begins watching her from the bushes to make sure she's OK. She finds the behaviour idiotic, but the sentiment surprisingly sweet.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Played for Laughs. Tessa is (reluctantly) head-over-heels crushing on him, and can't resist making out with him despite hating herself for it. When she finally gets the nerve to reject him, he's hurt and insulted, surprising her, and then after he becomes something of an Abhorrent Admirer towards her.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Tessa. They Will.


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