So far on the inaugural season of “Suburgatory,” we’ve only really seen one side of Dalia Royce, the entitled, self-absorbed neighbor/nemesis of the show’s main character, Tessa Altman.
That will change on Wednesday (Jan. 4). The show’s first episode of 2012, “Driving Miss Dalia,” has Dalia (Carly Chaikin) actually confronting the feeling of wanting something she doesn’t have — a boy named Scott Strauss (guest star Thomas McDonell, “Prom”).
“It’s a side to Dalia the viewers haven’t really seen before,” the 21-year-old Chaikin tells Zap2it. “This guy in particular … is kind of like her kryptonite. He’s like a drug to her, and she’s pining for him.”
So what will that look like? We’ve mostly seen Dalia get whatever she wants, so when that doesn’t happen, does she lose …
“Her mind?” Chaikin finishes the sentence for us, laughing. “Yes. There’s definitely physical comedy to it, definitely a lot of yelling, a lot of silly remarks and desperation. That’s the biggest thing — we’ve never seen Dalia desperate for anything, and in this episode you see her desperate.”
Here’s how desperate: Dalia actually enlists Tessa (Jane Levy), who has just passed her driver’s test, to be her chauffeur while Dalia follows Scott around (see the clip below). Chaikin says the two characters are a little bit nicer to each other during the episode, but Dalia still hasn’t quite figured out what to make of Tessa.
“To Dalia, [Tessa] is like a wild animal, an exotic animal that she’s never seen before and has no idea what to do with it,” Chaikin says. “Tessa’s the antithesis of Dalia, and she just doesn’t like it. She doesn’t agree with it, she doesn’t think it’s a good look — she doesn’t think anything about her is good.
“In ‘Driving Miss Dalia,’ you do see a glimpse of her appreciating Tessa for once, and them kind of warming up to each other. But I think that’s really what it is — Tessa is just so unknown and different from what Dalia has ever known.”
Chaikin’s break as an actress came in the Miley Cyrus movie “The Last Song,” but she says that since “Suburgatory” started airing, people have been both relating stories of Dalia-like girls they knew in high school and approaching her sort of cautiously, thinking she may share some traits with her character. The latter group even includes one of the show’s directors.
“He told me he was actually scared to work with me,” Chaikin tells us. “He was like, ‘You play your character so well, I literally thought I was going to come to set and you were going to be [acting like Dalia off camera]. It’s flattering to hear I’m that believable. But it’s funny when people meet me, they’re like, ‘You’re nothing like her.’ Which, thank God I’m not. I always joke on set — ‘What if I was a Method actor?'”
“Suburgatory” returns to ABC at 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday. Here’s a clip from the episode: