Suburgatory Boss on Dalia's Deep, Dark Secret and Her "Ultimate Vendetta" Against Tessa

TV Guide

Courtney Merritt, Carly Chaikin and Jane Levy | Photo Credits: Eric McCandless/ABC

Dalia and Daddy Altman kissing in a tree. K-i-s — wait, what?!

Suburgatory threw fans not one, but two curveballs last week when the sophomore ABC sitcom revealed that that a) Dalia (Carly Chaikin) used to hook up with Noah's eldest daughter, Jenna (Courtney Merritt), and b) that she had a secret stash of pictures of her and George "Daddy" Altman (Jeremy Sisto) hidden in her sock drawer. But what does it all mean?  Thankfully, not everything is exactly what it seems.

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"There was a little misinterpretation on the Twitter-verse about the meaning behind those photos," creator and showrunner Emily Kapnek tells TVGuide.com. "We learned in that episode that Dalia has a history of hurting the people that get back at her and she is dealing with her friendship with Tessa in the same way. So the thought behind these photos is more of the same.

"It's not about Dalia having a crush on George," Kapnek continues. "Its more about why that relationship is useful for Dalia in terms of hurting someone else. So it is just another tool that Dalia is using on this ultimate vendetta that she's on."

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That ultimate vendetta Dalia now has against Tessa (Jane Levy) all relates back to that first, head-turning secret uncovered in the most recent episode. After learning that Dalia was hurt by Tessa's growing friendship with Jenna, Tessa went out of her way to try to do damage control between the former "mad-tight" BFFs. In the process, Jenna told Tessa that she and Dalia actually used to be secret hook-up buddies — a piece of information that came as a startling surprise to both Tessa and fans who just a few weeks ago witnessed Dalia getting her boyfriend's face tattooed on her lower back. "We talked about it a while ago. It seemed like it made sense, especially with all of the needling of Tessa about her being a lesbian. It is quite a smoke screen," Kapnek says of Dalia's true sexual orientation. "It just seemed really right that she would be sitting on this thing that she felt self-conscious about in some way."

The episode was not only notable for revealing the truth about Dalia, but in the relatively low-key manner it did so. Kapnek said she was happy that the show was able to deal with Dalia's sexuality in a "natural" way. "There's just not the same weird stigma anymore," she says. "It could just as easily have been a guy, like Evan or whatever, but I think these little pieces of information — it's more much about Dalia's emotional neediness and her feeling vulnerable because Tessa has this information that Dalia didn't want out there. ... Just having Tessa know about it makes her far too vulnerable to Tessa."

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Case in point: The photos Lisa discovered of Dalia with George — Tessa's dad, and arguably, her best friend. "Dalia really goes about trying to take from Tessa her own stability and her own comfort because Tessa has inadvertently taken those things from Dalia. So she really comes out swinging," Kapnek says. "When Tessa becomes aware of how far Dalia is willing to go to try to make her unhappy, she realizes that it's been a long time coming that she has to put Dalia in her place."

Naturally, the tension between Tessa and Dalia escalates just as their respective parents, George and Dallas (Cheryl Hines), are growing closer.  "Just as George and Dallas are sort of contemplating their future together, things between the kids have never been worse," Kapnek says. "Once they get a sense of how bad things are, the sky falls down in Chatswin a little bit just because all of this has come to a head at once. Things with Dalia and Tessa get really super-ugly."

Suburgatory airs Wednesday at 8:30/7:30c on ABC. Will Tessa and Dalia be able to work it out?

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