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Playing With / Stepford Suburbia

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Basic Trope: A supposedly ideal and perfect Town with a Dark Secret.

  • Straight: Fellenwort is a picturesque town which looks wonderful on the surface; however, several of its residents are hiding dark secrets; for instance, Blake and Victoria's failing marriage, and his affair with the teenager Paige... Or Paige's recent discovery that she's carrying his child. Then there's how Paige's older brother Jonathan has very strong feelings toward her... something their parents are well aware of, but not really sure what to do about it.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed:
    • The people in Fellonwort have no more (or less) than the normal share of problem you'd expect in any neighbourhood of similar size.
    • Instead of Fellonwort having fantastical and scandalous dark secrets, it instead has some more mundane horrors that people know and don't do anything about. Like the town's full of Heteronormative Crusaders, heavily stigmatizes sexuality, and is generally conservative.
    • Fellonwort is a genuinely nice town, but unfortunately, it is also fairly close to a nuclear target, sewing anxiety in the populace.
  • Justified:
    • Fellenwort is run by a Knight Templar mayor who is obssessed with running a perfect town, and he has the police and other institutions under his thumb. Plus, There Are No Therapists.
    • Fellenwort is the remnant of a government program in which a lot of dysfunctional people were relocated to the same location and given pristine, happy suburban houses to live in, under the theory that their personality flaws would be fixed if they only lived in nicer conditions. The theory proved to be false, however, and all that happened was that a lot of dysfunctional people are living in close proximity in pristine, happy-looking suburbs.
  • Inverted: Nightshade is a rough-looking area, yet all the residents are much nicer than they appear at first glance.
  • Subverted:
    • Fellenwort looks like it has a dark secret involving domestic violence and child abuse but it turns out that they're just filming a movie.
    • Alternately, Fellenwort is exactly what it appears to be-a warm, welcoming community with friendly citizens, laughing children and suburban beauty. There's a wide mix of political opinions, and no one bats an eye when people of color move into the neighborhood. The real reason people-of any race-live in Fellenwort is because they can't stand the noise and crowds of the big city and enjoy Fellenwort's peace and quiet. Devoted urbanites would call Fellenwort bland, conformist and boring, but Fellenwort residents would call the big city loud, obnoxious and suffocating.
    • Fellenwort goes to a great deal of trouble to obscure its dark secret...that the mayor once stole a candy bar from a convenience store.
  • Double Subverted: Based on a true story that occurred a year ago and other incidents like it are still ongoing.
  • Parodied: Everyone has problems are really obvious or horribly concealed and no one ever comments upon it except to reject having their problems out in the open. Thus the mayor drives a golden limo and denies embezzlement while lamenting budget problems, and the principal constantly mentions that he has two eyes and both legs despite the fact he wears an eye patch and has a peg leg.
  • Zig Zagged: Fellenwort's residents appear to be living the suburban dream, but a dark undercurrent pervades the town. Then it's revealed that said darkness is all a result of a series of humorous, unrelated misunderstandings that are peacefully resolved, and a good chuckle is had by all. However, the misunderstandings are revealed to be a plan by the mysterious mayor to sew discord among the town's denizens in order to fulfill some obscure goal. Except that the goal is revealed to have been a kindly desire to have the residents grow closer to each other...
  • Averted: The outward appearance of a neighborhood more or less reflects the happiness of its denizens.
  • Enforced: The writers refuse to let anyone in the town be anything but secretly miserable with their suburban existence.
  • Lampshaded: "A town this clean and shiny must be hiding something."
  • Invoked: The older residents teach their children to conceal any personal problems they might be having and keep up a facade of normality at all costs — otherwise, they might become the talk of the town, and in the bad way!
  • Exploited: A mayor of a troubled town markets to prospective new residents by saying at least his town will admit its issues.
  • Defied:
    • The denizens of Fellenwort maintain a policy of openly discussing interpersonal issues and openly encouraging therapy for troubled residents in an attempt to keep resentment from building up.
    • Through collective effort, the denizens of Fellenwort have turned the place into a Quirky Town which may have some bugs but is still a nice place to live overall.
  • Discussed: "Is it just me, or does this town seem like an idyllic little hellhole?"
  • Conversed: "Is everyone in this show secretly evil or miserable?"
  • Deconstructed: By hiding their problems rather than addressing them and finding solutions, the residents of Fellenwort enable their issues to grow far worse. Finally, something gives: Jonathan finds out about Paige's problem and assaults Blake. He doesn't manage to kill him, but his screaming about why he came after him as the police haul him away ruin Blake's career and marriage, which sends ripple effects throughout the entire community, eventually tearing everyone apart.
  • Reconstructed: The normalcy, order, routine, and outward peace of their surroundings do not so much conceal the underlying evil as help the characters remain sane as they try to deal with it.
  • Played For Laughs: Fellenwort's residents are needlessly melodramatic about concealing the most pointless of secrets and walk around looking like they've smeared Vaseline on their teeth. Literally everyone is having an affair with everyone, and overdramatic closeups abound.
  • Played For Drama: Everyone is more aware of their neighbors' problems than they let on, gossiping about others even while neglecting their own issues. As a result, Fellenwort is a practical powderkeg waiting to explode the second somebody's paper-thin mask finally slips...
  • Implied: Fellenwort is vaguely ominous, but whatever secrets it's hiding are never revealed.

Back to Stepford Suburbia, where everything is perfect! But don't stay out past midnight.