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Tessa Altman

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Tessa Altman
Character Name: Tessa Altman


George Altman (Father), Alex (Mother)
Gender: Female

Portrayed By:

Jane Levy

First Appearance:


"Pretty ironic that a box full of rubbers landed me in a town full of plastics."
—Tessa Altman, "Pilot"

Tessa  Altman is the main protaganist on the ABC TV show Suburgatory. She lives with her Father George Altman in Chatswin after moving from New York. She is a quirky, intellectual, rather cynical and sarcastic teenage girl who is portrayed as an icon of sanity in a rather insane upper middle class suburban town. She is played by actress Jane Levy.


Tessa Altman was born to George Altman and a mother Alex. Shortly after Tessa was born, her mother dropped out of her life and she was left under care of her father, George, who was providing for Tessa with his job as an architect. They both lived in New York, which George later found as an unstable enviroment to raise his daughter. George was then pushed over the edge when he performed an unauthorized search-and-check in Tessa's room, and discovered an unopened box of condoms in the drawer of her nightstand, which Tessa was stashing for a friend, which he did not believe. All this stated to happen prior to Pilot . She was a very ordinary New York teenager until George pulled Tessa out of school and packed up their belongings, therefore 'bubble-wrapping' her life, and shipped her off to live in a very clean-cut suburb located in the town of Chatswin. When Tessa moves into her new 'Circus Peanut'- colored home, she imagines her new suburban life as The Stepford Wives, where she encounters big-haired, synthetic-breasted Franken-mothers with their Sugar Free Red Bull-chugging children and the over-manicured lawns. She even states that some people find New York intimidating, though she states that the Suburbanites are the type she could picture feasting upon their very own children.

She uses her dry wit and sarcastic sense of humor to defeat whatever she comes across, whether it's either her next-door suburban moms Dallas Royce and Sheila Shay or their daughters. There is Dallas's daughter - the self-absorbed, vacuous valley girl, Dalia (who is convinced Tessa is a lesbian because of the grungy clothing and combat boots she wears) who is the Malibu Barbie type, only with more mascara and less emotion. As well as the rather socially awkward Lisa Shay (who Tessa is shown to have befriended, as shown at the end of 'Pilot' and throughout the rest of the series.)

She has had limited expirience with romance in her teenage years, though prior to taking part in having an intimate relationship with her jock suburban neighbor, Ryan Shay (also Lisa's brother), Tessa revealed her first kiss occured underneath a ladder. She also grabbed a "neurotic, self-loathing Jew" named Evan by the collar and kissed him, trying to form feelings for somebody other than Ryan.

In the episode Driving Miss Dalia, she makes her first encounter with Scott Strauss, who admits he went on a date with Dalia - who was being driven by Tessa - just to spend more time with Tessa. They begin a relationship, which in The Casino Trip, Tessa wishes to take to the 'physical level', but Scott wants to take it slow and by explaining it was because he had seen vaginal birth on his trip to Africa, he ruined their evening and left. Their relationship ends when Tessa visits him at his house and he offers to push their relationship into the physical level as well as giving George a goat, but she breaks up with him as she was getting irritated by his persistence to talk about his trip to Africa.

Tessa turned sixteen years old in the episode "Sweet Sixteen".

Season OneEdit

In "Pilot," Tessa is forced to be transferred from Manhattan to a suburb called Chatswin because of her father's dissaprovement over finding an unopened pack of condoms in her bedroom drawer.

Once Tessa is shipped to Chatswin along with her father, George, they stand in their front lawn and Tessa suggests that their new suburban home is almost exactly the same shade of orange of a Circus Peanut. Though, she changes her mind, ensuring that it is definetly the color of "your basic, run-of-the mill stomach acid vomit". George orders her to move on and critique the houses's interior, which she does by finding disgust in the kitten-shaped wall clock and tacky wallpaper that decorates her new bedroom. She then is lead to the garage, as George prepared a suprise for her. Tessa, hoping she was being gifted a new car, is dissapointed to learn that George actually bought her an antique bicycle so the two can embark on a suburban expirience together by George teaching her how to ride. It's just not going to cut it for Tessa.

Later, Tessa is seen walking along the sidewalk, comparing herself to the Early Settler because she does not have a stay-at-home mother to haul her location to location. Then, all of a sudden, Tessa is pelted in the forehead with a can of "Suburbia's official beverage" from a passing car - sugar-free Red Bull. Then, we see valley girl Dalia Royce slurping from a can of the energy drink herself. Tessa is assigned to be Dalia's "buddy", which Dalia noted doesn't mean they are friends. Throughout Tessa's tour of the school, Dalia is texting on her cell phone while Tessa throws out sarcastic comments, though Dalia hardly notices. Later, Tessa admits her favorite part of the whole tour was when she went in the handicappable stall in the girl's room. While reading and eating her lunch in the stall, she overhears Dalia and several other girls make fun of Lisa Shay, her new neighbor. Once Dalia and her gang exit the bathroom, Tessa tries to comfort the then weeping Lisa, who later yells at Tessa ("Get away from me, you lesbian!") and runs from the bathroom.

Later, when she is walking home from school, she admits how scared she is of the suburbs and is forced to go to the mall with DALIA and Dallas Royce. In the dressing room at the mall, her and Dalia try on matching outfits and Dallas walks into the room. After Dalia exits the dressing room, Dallas zips down Tessa's vest and starts to critique Tessa's sports bra, deeming it ugly. Later when Tessa returns from the mall that night and her father is having dinner with Noah Werner, she throws together an outfit consisting of the articles of clothing George purchased for her at the boutique the Royces took her to (called "The Mall Skank" by Tessa). She threatens her father, saying she was not eating the pot roast Sheila Shay made them, instead just drinking a Sugar Free Redbull, saying she will devote her body to anorexia "like all the other Suburban girls".

The next morning, her and her father communicate their feelings by reading reference books with agressive titles and tell each other how they feel about the suburbs. Later, Lisa Shay comes to take her mother's pot, in which Tessa confuses the pot that Sheila's pot roast was prepared in for marijuana. Lisa apologizes for her outburst in the girl's room the other day and sadly admits that she is related to Sheila and her older jock brother, Ray Shay (later fully introduced in "The Barbeque"). Later, Tessa is gifted with a formal bra from Dallas Royce.

In the second episode of season 1, "The Barbeque", Tessa explains that her favorite part of the suburbs since moving is sleeping. Later, it shows her and George running to hide from Sheila Shay to avoid to being invited to dinner after Sheila waters her lawn. George's jacket gets caught in the back door and Sheila invites them to dinner and George is guilt trapped into saying yes.

In her biology class taught by Mr. Siegel, her and the students study the Gentoo Penguin, which, when removed natural habitat, is exposed to infectious disease and possibly death. That night, before they go to dinner with the Shay family, they prepare a code word, "pickles", if they must exit. They go to dinner and Lisa's elder brother, Ryan Shay has his group of jock buddies, including Dalia Royce at his house. Ryan leads his friends to the basement rec room and Sheila makes Lisa and Tessa follow. While Tessa is playing pinball, Ryan and his friends are in a match of 'Truth or Dare'. Dalia dares Ryan to "kiss the lesbian". Ryan thinks Dalia is talking about his sister, but Dalia tells him she means Tessa. Tessa tries to get out of playing, though her and Ryan kiss passionately against the pinball machine, Ryan informing Tessa he couldn't back out of Dalia's dare. After their kiss, Tessa runs upstairs and yells "Pickles!" many times while waving her arms frantically.

Tessa later finds herself strangely attracted to Ryan, the exact opposite. She watches Ryan sensually wash his car out her bedroom window and Lisa confronts her that day at school, saying that it was sickening. Tessa admitts to herself she was sick for falling head over heels for Ryan. To try wiggling out of her crush, she pulls aside a nerdy, neurotic Jewish boy named Evan, pushes him against the vending machine and pressures him into a French kiss, though Tessa says she felt nothing. Later, Ryan invites Tessa to make out with him under the bleachers. While the two kiss, she pressures him into answering questions so she can see if there is anything more to Ryan than his good looks. As it turns out, there wasn't.

That night, George tries to get Tessa to talk about her encounter with Ryan, as Dallas Royce informed him that Dalia told her Tessa and Ryan went to first base. George was forced into throwing a barbeque by his friend Noah and Dallas Royce after being told by the Shays, all them saying that a barbeque is important to have when a new family moves in or else the family will be deemed univiting. Later, at the Altman's barbeque Tessa and Ryan kiss in the laundry room and she tells him that they have to go their seperate ways. Later, her and her father share barbeque on the back porch together.

In "The Chatterer", it is revealed Tessa's neighbor Sheila Shay has overstepped her bounds, as she mothers Tessa completely - wheter she is driving Tessa to school, packing her lunch or setting up a college fund. This intimidates George, and he later joins the PTA to get back at Sheila. Later, Tessa is forced to choose a new elective by Mr. Wolf for her third period after he busted her spending her third period reading the newspaper in the handicap stall. Her choices are to either be a member of the drama club along with Kenzie, Kaitlin and Kimantha; attend a "flat-ironing" course. She decides she wants to be a member of something "unpopular and poorly supervised". She becomes a writer for the school paper, The Chatswin Chronicle along with diversity student Malik. Malik is not happy that his school newspaper is not as big of a success as he hopes, as it is used to sturdy table legs, wipe up student's vomit and as a place for the biology lab's hamster to soil on. Tessa becomes a writer for the school newspaper and with help from Dalia, who knows all the gossip that circulates the halls of Chatswin High School, Tessa revamps the school newspaper into the style of a gossip tablioid. When the first edition of the make-overed school paper is released, all students are clutching their own copy and reading the gossip aloud.

Tessa is horrified to learn that Mailik has been turned into a gossip addict, which supplied him with mad popularity. Malik's newfound popularity clearly floats over his head. Later in the episode, the success of the new and improved school newspaper (titled The Chatswin Chatterer) effects Tessa, as she cannot even enter the bathroom without girls offering her snacks and disinfecting the stall for her. When she enters the handicapped stall, Malik is waiting for her with a photo Dalia took of Lisa Shay sucking her thumb in the library. Tessa insists Malik does not publish it and then Lisa comes in with a petition stating she wants the old newspaper back. Her petition only had two signatures - both of them hers, but later, both Tessa and Malik sign it.

In "Don't Call Me Shirley", a crime occurs in Chatswin, as infered by Tessa who is woken up at 4 P.M. to police sirens. Tessa is itching to discover what type of crime happened, and she thinks of all the gruesome possibilities- a burglary, a murder...because after all, sirens was not a normalcy of the suburbs. Once at the scene of the crime, Tessa is disappointed to learn that the issue is indeed a robbery, just not the kind she was expecting. The crime happens to be the theft of Sheila Shay's collection of antique Shirley Temple dolls. Tessa cannot help but be amused, though that day at school, Dalia Royce makes an announcement in front of the entire student body in the cafeteria. During her announcement, she frames Tessa for stealing Sheila's dolls (without mentioning her name, rather refering her to somebody who had recently moved from "New York, New York...New York") which leads her to being the primary suspect.

Later, Dallas and Dalia crash the Altman's home, the two afraid of being burglarized themselves. Tessa is forced to bunk with Dalia. In the middle of the night, Tessa wakes up to strange sounds. She grabs her baseball bat and heads downstairs. Once downstairs she bumps into her dad, who also has a baseball bat. They’re both frightened and in search of where the noise could be coming from. They realize the sounds are coming from the laundry room. Ready to attack, they swing the door open and find Dallas sitting in the dark, guiltily eating a sandwich, her feeling guilty for barging into the Altman's house.

The next morning, after Dalia and Tessa promise not to speak anything about the sleepover at school, they walk into the kitchen to find George and Dallas looking cozy in their robes, talking and giggling about the various activities and festivals they can take the girls to together. The girls realize that they have to come up with a plan to stop their parents before they get any closer. Later, Tessa forms a plan with Dalia, which involves Dalia announcing one again that Tessa is the theif of "the crazy lady's" dolls. Mr. Wolf overhears and calls George to the school and during George and Tessa's meeting with Mr. Wolf, Tessa admits she called attention about her being the so-called theif so it would be a way for George to take her back to New York. Meanwhile, Sheila Shay is a hot mess - she makes (and unfortunately wears) Missing T-shirts, showcasing a photo of her dolls and a phone number to call if they are found. Sheila also admits that she spends her week nights ironing and folding her missing doll's clothing, which leads Lisa to admit she is the doll theif, her stealing them toget back at Sheila for years of substance abuse.

In "Halloween", the episode starts with the Altman’s excited about celebrating their first Halloween in the suburbs. They’re bringing out fake gore, guillotines, over-sized spiders covering half the front of their house, and tombstones. Tessa explains that in the city, rather than fake decorations, they had to worry about real murder scenes. While Tessa and George are excited for the holiday, their suburban neighbors are another story. As two moms jog by, they stare in awe at the monstrosity that has become the Altman house. When Noah Werner comes to visit, he tells George that any home decorating for the holidays must first be approved by the community board, as to not ruin the aesthetics of the neighborhood. After all, Chatswin always wins the award for “most uniform houses.” The friend starts trying to pack up all the decorations to put them back in the garage so that the Altman’s don’t get fined. Tessa decides that since she can’t express her feelings toward Halloween in home decorations, she must find the perfect costume. In her search through her closet, she finds a dusty old box on the top shelf with the words, “Misty’s Hair Accessories.” Upon opening the box and finding a hair “Bump-It,” an epiphany strikes— she knows what she must become for Halloween.

In the next scene we see her in her costume, “a tacky-ass suburban girl.” Tessa dons a bright blue velour sweat
K8ykatgleek7Added by K8ykatgleek7
suit and adds the word "redonk" to her vocabulary, which brings back horrible memories for students at Chatswin High School. Once Tessa meets up with Lisa, the creepy things start happening. Lisa instantly notices Tessa’s hair and begins to tell her about Misty. Misty is the girl that used to live in the house before the Altman’s moved in. Misty used to “bump-it,” wear sweat suits with a pair of high heels and say "redonk". When Tessa can’t get one of the lockers open, Lisa tells explains that it’s because it was Misty’s old locker.

Lisa starts to explain Misty's fate until she cuts herself off and changes the topic, clearly not wanting to speak of the subject. In the hallway, Mr. Wolfe doesn’t think Tessa’s “costume” is funny. He tells her she put it together in bad taste and sends her into his office— the place where he used to send Misty. Mr. Wolf reams out Tessa, saying he expected better from her than to impersonate a former student. Especially a decased student. Tessa learns she’s been living in Misty's former bedroom. Later, Tessa approaches Lisa in the bathroom, asking why Lisa never told her that she’s been living in a dead girl’s room. Since Lisa can’t use the restroom with Tessa standing in front of her stall and Tessa won’t move until she tells her the story of Misty, Lisa starts spilling details. It turns out that Misty was a nerdy and preppy newbie to Chatswin High. Misty became close friends with Lisa, as both of them shared a love of baggy sweaters. Later, Misty shed her glasses and had Lasik eye surgery performed on her and she later moved onto Dalia's clique with Kaitlin, Kenzie and Kimantha. Lisa tells Tessa she was so hurt by the change in Misty that she wished she would just go away. Then she did. With Tessa dressing like her, using her words and old locker, Lisa confesses that she’s pretty freaked out. She’s convinced that Misty’s spirit is trying to take over Tessa’s body. And, she begs Tessa to leave so she can finally go pee.

Later that night, Tessa can’t sleep because she’s freaked out by the thought of sleeping in a the bedroom of a decased teenage girl. In the meantime, Tessa continues to try and get down to the truth behind the Misty story. She goes to the Dalia and her clan of cool kids to ask questions. Once Tessa gets home, she notices candles all over the place and Lisa pops out of nowhere holding a bible with Malik dressed as Run DMC. Lisa tells Tessa they are there to perform an exorcism on her, as she was clearly possesed by Misty's spirit. In the middle of the exorcism, the door bell rings and someone knocks on the door— it’s Misty. As it turns out, Misty was never dead, she just moved to New Jersey. When her parent’s said she went to a better place, they were talking about a remedial school. When the guidance counselor said she was dead, he really did kill her off of school records when she failed the standardized testing, as to not bring down the school’s grade point average. Misty had only returned from Paramus to Chatswin to trick-or-treat (and steal a nail polish from Tessa’s room - which Misty thanks Tessa for being "so much more uglier now").

By the end of the episode, Tessa admits that Halloween in the suburbs had started to grow on her and George, after getting knocked out by Dallas’ husband when he came home and thought George was a burglar, thanks Dallas for giving him permission to have a scary Halloween. The house is decked out in all things gory and Tessa and George scare the little kids in the neighborhood all through Halloween night.

In "Charity Case", Tessa witnesses how dimwitted and wasteful Suburbanites really are. They water their lawns while it pours down rain, they dump their untouched cafeteria lunches into the garbage can - opting for breath mints instead. One day, Tessa is having a mandatory meeting with Mr. Wolf, ensuring him she has made plently of peers and no unwanted pregnantcies have taken occurance. Mr. Wolf's microwave beeps and he removes his soup from it to see that it is chicken and rice when he clearly asked for chicken and stars - so he dumps the entire bown into the trash. Tessa tries to inform him about how much the people of Suburbia waste when all the uneaten meals they can altogether could feed the needy. She suggests that Chatswin High holds a fundraiser for a needy cause, to which Mr. Wolf agrees to, only if Tessa makes a presentation. The next day, Tessa presents an animated short film to the students of Chatswin High about food wastefullness. Mr. Wolf calls for an unnessicary questions/comments window. The first student to raise her is is none other than Dalia. Tessa calls on her, and Dalia tells the entire student body about the "endless suffering" she had witnessed while vacationing in Orlando - the frizzy-haired, oily skinned locals. This leads into a rally, and Mr. Wolf finally announces that Chatswin High will hold a fundraiser to buy a stock of clarisonic facial brushes that they can donate to Florida so they can imporove the complexion of their locals.

Later at the first gathering of volunteers for Chatswin’s first "Semi-Annual Florida Clarisonic Face Brush Fundraiser", Tessa gets frustrated and states to Mr. Wolf that the oily-skinned are not a needy cause. He agrees, but to her dismay, says that they should not only be giving clarisonic face brushes to the ones with oily skin - they should also help out the dry-skinned Flordia locals as well. She storms from the multi-purpose room where the meeting was being held and runs into Dallas Royce, who has two platters of pre-packaged deli meat and cheese. She tells Tessa that in her time, she has invented at least one hundred chairties in her time, along with her brother-in-law, an air matress salesman. Her charities included "Air beds for the homeless" and "Air beds for the elderly". Next, Dallas decides that the slices of deli meat are too thin, so she cans both trays. Tessa fishes them from the garbage. Later, Tessa is glum that her classmates do not understand the true meaning of charity work and George's advice leads her into introducting her classmates to her friend, Gladys.

Gladys is a homeless drag queen who lives out of a shopping cart filled with trash bags containing all of his belongings on Tessa's old block in Manhattan. She thinks this is the best tool to help the suburbans understand the hunger epidemic. Tessa makes a speech about the fact that not all people can afford to get their teeth whitened, going to the mall, overwatering their front lawns and spend money trying to fix their oily skin— there are hungry people a lot closer than Florida. At Chatswin High, everyone mixes up Tessa’s real message and decides that she is the person they should be worried about. They saw Tessa take the trays of deli meat out of the garbage can after Dallas threw it away and they are concerned about her friendships with transsexual bums. Once word gets around that George made a big deal about the cost for his crown, this doesn’t help Tessa’s case much. The Altman’s are soon known as the charity case of the neighborhood. Later that night, neighbors bring by tons of useless appliances and gadgets from the Sky Mall to donate to the Altmans. Though Tessa and George are upset at first, Tessa comes up with the brilliant plan to donate the items to Gladys on West 14th Street.

In the last scene, Tessa and George are in their pajamas, sipping smoothies they made with their new juicer. George quickly falls asleep on the couch while Tessa opens up a letter from Gladys, printed on his stationary. In the letter, Gladys thanks Tessa for the set of light-up bocce balls she gifted him. Though, he says he soon sold the bocce balls and countertop appliances (even though he doesn't even own a counter) Tessa donated to him and used the money to purchase a pop-up tent and a pre-paid cell phone (so if "you ever need a place to stay in the city, girl, call me!")

In "Sweet Sixteen", Tessa decides she wants a simple get-together for her sixteenth birthday - a pizza and a movie at her house with Malik, Lisa and George. The next day, her and George go to the supermarket and George buys Tessa her birthday gifts - an Average Shelf Life CD and a box of Lucky Charms. Once in the parking lot of the supermarket, they run into the Royce family - a Dalia who is caught up texting on her cell phone and Dallas, who is too flustered to even speak because she was yet to apply a facefull of makeup. Dallas says that a get-together just won't cut it. She tells Tessa that a colleague of Stephen happens to own a chain of Mexican resturants, a white tiger...oh, and the record label that ASL plays for. Dallas promises Tessa she can get ASL to play for her sweet sixteen - well, not for two people, only for a Sweet Sixteen Extravaganza. Tessa reluctantly agrees, because, well, she'll have her favorite band perform live during the best night of her life. But, not all good things last, because there's a catch...Dalia, who failed her career aptitude quiz, is going to be the party planner so she can prove to her father that one day she will get a decent occupation.

Later, Tessa goes to Dalia's house and meets with Dalia to discuss ideas for her party. Tessa decides that her inspiration will be a party that was once held by one of her peers in New York named Oscar - a rooftop barbeque. Dalia then totally channels out Tessa's vision of her own birthday party and decides that she should have Tessa's birthday at the Chatswin country club, and finish it off with go-go dancers, specialty beverages and oh, yea. Average Shelf Life, though Dalia never really aknowledges the pinpoint of Tessa's party.

Later, Dalia drags Tessa to a boutique were Tessa is picking out only dark colored dresses. Dalia then insists that Tessa tries on a sparkly white dress. Tessa angrily fights on the dress and realizes how flattering the dress is on her, though she will not admit it to Dalia, as it would give her the satisfaction of knowing that she is a fashion whiz. That night, Tessa puts on the dress and leaves her old man home, who is on "couch rest". At her party, Tessa is impressed to see how well Dalia threw the party together - lasers, fire breathers, ponies. Then, a waitress offers Tessa a "Tessa-tini" - a specialty mocktail that Noah prepared to serve the sugar-crazed teenagers, though he actually planted ingredients that will rot your teeth in the beverage so business at his dental practice would be raving. Then, Tessa is furious with Dalia once she learns that Dalia kicked out Lisa and Malik. After Tessa awkwardly dances to an Average Shelf Life song while her guests all say how much they such, Tessa heads home to have the simple get-together she wanted in the first place. A pizza with George, Dallas, Malik and Lisa. During her party, Lisa and Malik dance the robot and Dallas gifts Tessa a pair of diamond stud earrings. Tessa then admits that "diamonds are not a girl's best friend - that those nerds were."

The episode "Thanksgiving" starts out with Tessa gloomily sitting on the couch and watching the White House's annual pardoning of the turkey on live TV. Tessa is upset that this year she and George will not be able to carry out their Thanksgiving tradition of going to Central Park to watch the floats get blown up for New York City’s annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. After which, they go to their favorite coffee shop for a round of turkey burgers and black and white milkshakes. Instead, this year, all they had were numerous invitations to neighbors’ houses to join them and their own families in the celebration. While Tessa watches Barack Obama pardon the turkey and reminisces about being in Central Park instead, there’s a knock at the door. It’s a tall lanky man dressed as a pilgrim goofily asking, in “pilgrim speech” if the Altman’s will be in attendance at Dallas’ house for her Thanksgiving event. George comes downstairs from the bathroom, says yes and then Tessa slams the door in pilgrim guy’s face. The two move into they kitchen where George tells Tessa he knows she’s upset they won’t be sticking to their tradition this year but since they moved, they’ll work on creating a new tradition. Tessa informs him that the point of a tradition is that it doesn’t change. Tessa then goes outside to take out the trash and sees an even more gloomy and depressed Lisa standing across the street staring off into space. Lisa tells Tessa that on Thanksgiving Day, dozens of Shay relatives barge into her house, eat with their mouths open and spew unnecessary advice— mostly pertaining to her hair. Lisa then goes on to tell Tessa that to top it all off, her mom, Sheila Shay, has gotten her an Amish dress to wear for the dinner. Lisa looks petrified and does not want to wear the dress. Tessa gives her the bright idea to just tell her mom that she refuses to wear it. Later, to raise Tessa's spirits, George stops and gets Dallas to agree to spend time with Tessa on a girl's day out. However, the kind of fun Dallas thinks is fun clearly isn’t Tessa’s kind of fun. They end up at the beauty salon.

At the salon, Tessa is caught up in a book and Dallas flings Tessa's novel aside and tries to convince Tessa to get her hair blown out but Tessa refuses. Dallas even offers to give her a hundred dollars if she gets her hair straightened. Finally, Dallas makes a deal with Tessa that if she gets her hair blown out for Thanksgiving, she will take her anywhere she wants to go for lunch. Tessa agrees. So, soon enough, they end up in New York City, buying counterfeited purses and getting greasy slices of pizza, each with pin-straight hair. However, the party comes to a screeching halt when Tessa spots George in the city, doing something that makes her drop her pizza onto the pavement and look shocked. We see that she is staring at George in between cars, making out with a woman when he was supposed to be "working". On the car ride back home from New York, Tessa is furious that George has been cheating on the suburbs with Manhattan. Dallas, on the other hand, is jealous that the woman he was kissing looked like a Puerto Rican and was wearing a no-name-brand tote bag. Dallas and Tessa agree that they can’t tell George they saw him because they weren’t supposed to be in the city in the first place.

Later, George and Tessa are driving to Dallas’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. Tessa is furiously trying to make remarks about George and his mysterious Puerto Rican flame, though George cannot sense Tessa's anger, as for one he has no idea what she is talking about and two, he keeps on complimenting her new hair-do. Once at the Royce resident, the guests are well to do and uptight. With everyone seated and about to dig into the turkey, Dallas makes a speech suggesting that everyone go around the table and say what they are most thankful for. When it’s George’s turn, Tessa takes the opportunity to ask him if he is most thankful for the Tri-Boro Bridge. Then she shouts out that they know about him and his secretive relationship with his Puerto Rican girlfriend. Outside, George admits to Tessa that he has been to the city about five or six times since they moved to the suburbs because he was working on renovating a bar out there. He then admits that he’s seen the Puerto Rican woman, Zoe, only twice. He felt that he needed to get away for his own creativity and freedom. Tessa suggests that she feels the same way and it isn’t fair that she doesn’t get the opportunity to go back to the city but he does. George admits that parents and their kids, no matter how close they are, are not equals.

Then, on the ride back home George and Tessa aren’t speaking. We watch as George takes the New York City exit. He explains to Tessa that he looked up the word “tradition” in the dictionary and Tessa was right— traditions don’t get changed. Suddenly Lisa pops up in the backseat of their car, still wet and naked from her shower. Luckily, George has a gym bag full of clothes in the backseat. The three of them go to the Altman’s favorite coffee shop in New York City, Empire State Diner, and get a round of turkey burgers with their favorite black and white milkshakes.

In "The Nutcracker", Tessa explains that Chatswin celebrates Christmas in a phony way with everything professionaly-decorated and all the plastic lawn ornaments. This makes her bummed for the holiday season, but not only that - she is still angry with George for sneaking away from the suburbs so he can visit Zoe in New York. So, Tessa starts giving George the silent treatment. She still hasn’t forgiven him completely for sneaking off to go visit his girlfriend, Zoe, in NYC without telling her. So that night, we see Tessa creeping down the staircase upon George breaking up with Zoe via Skype. George tells her that though he really liked Zoe, sometimes parents make sacrifices for their children to be happy. So, as Zoe cries hysterically and George slams his laptop closed, Tessa instantly feels bad about breaking the two up and apologizes to George, though he instead decides to drown his sorrows with alcohol. The next day, Tessa tells Lisa all about her George/Zoe situation. She says that she has to find a way to buy George a really great gift to make up for it because Tessa had unsuccessfully surfed the Internet for a good gift. Lisa agrees. Tessa tries to make it up to George because she feels bad, so she makes him his favorite sandwitch - tuna fish. George says tuna reminds him of Zoe. Tessa starts to worry he’s sinking into a depression and then says he is showing the normal signs of depression - lounging around the house all day in his pajamas, watching the Food Network and taking an adult ed class in wreath-making.

Tessa, still feeling guilty about breaking George and Zoe up, decides there’s only one thing she can give George for Christmas to make everything better again. She calls Zoe on Skype and invites Zoe over to their tree-trimming party. Though it isn’t easy to convince Zoe at first, once Tessa promises that she won’t be an obstacle and that George really does miss her, so Zoe agrees because Christmas makes her horny.

And later, Christmas Eve has finally, Tessa is feeling proud of the Zoe surprise she has in store for George. That is until she sees George flirting with her art teacher, Aimee. Lisa arrives, with no coat, because she lives directly across the street. Tessa asks her to stand outside and wait for Zoe to get there and try to distract her, while Tessa dumps out the egg nog and as George makes a new batch, she tries to get rid of Aimee by making up a lie and saying how messy he is in the bathroom and stating she must leave because she might get stranded in a snow bank and die. Lisa catches Tessa’s attention through the window and informs her that Zoe has arrived. George asks Tessa what’s wrong and she confesses that she’s been trying to get rid of Aimee because she’s a rebound. She tells George that she knows he was so crushed about his break-up with Zoe that he only used Aimee to help him move on. George then confesses to Tessa that he actually broke up with Zoe, not because of Tessa, but because Zoe is just a very annoying, and violent, and negative slut. George tells Tessa that he does like Aimee. Tessa walks into the kitchen and sees that Lisa is still outside— without a coat. She opens the door for Lisa and makes her some hot tea. Lisa tells Tessa that while she was outside, alone, in the cold, with no coat, she had some time to think and she realized that the reason Tessa may be taking the whole Zoe situation so personally is because subconsciously, she knows that she may have come between George and a lot of other “Zoe’s” in the past. Lisa then ends by telling Tia that her dad is hot, he deserves to get banged.

In the end, we learn that George has a gift for turning even the sanest woman into crazies and Tessa apologizes for George not having a special someone to spend the holidays with. George tells her that he never gets tired of it just

Because Tessa Altman was raised in the melting pot of New York City, absorbing all the life lessons to be gleaned from its tired, huddled masses and countless one-man shows, she started to channel them into a wry, wiser-than-her-fifteen-years take on the world. Tessa posseses sarcastic, stubborn, antisocial, witty, cynical and dry traits, which help her quip very witty comments (including "It's ironic how a box of rubbers landed me in a town of plastics.") Tessa appears to be rather scornful to her fellow classmates and her perfect suburban neighbors with their touch-me-not homes and picket fences, also taking a very strong dislike in the New York mothers. She is highly intelligent and canny, which makes her succeed in most of her endeavors, except math and sometimes outside of school.Edit

This is to say that she doesn't fit in all that well, and was often subject to ridicule - and would ridicule back, poking at the idiocies of her peers, her elders, and herself. She attempts to fly under the radar and blend into the background, but keeps getting drawn in to situations against her will, where she either restores sanity or causes things to descend into further chaos. For example, when Dallas dragged Tessa to Chatswin's local shopping mall and heckled her and Dalia into matching pink outfits; Tessa showed George that in fact it was a wrong decision for him to agree with Dallas's plan to take her to the mall by dressing in provocative clothing and titling her new look 'Mall Skank'. In another case, Mr. Wolf had forced Tessa to choose a new elective for her third period and she happily chose to write for the school's newspaper; during her duty as an author for the school paper, she revamped its style and turned it into a gossip tabloid that trashed her fellow classmates.

Apparently, as said by George, she has a genuine interest in black-and-white subtilte films made by Federico Felini, an Italian director and scriptwriter. She also enjoys reading, though she dislikes the idea of girly items, finding a very distasteful hating of the kitten clock and patterned walls in her new bedroom. She also was grossed out with Dallas Royce's unnecessary lecture on bras in the dressing room at the mall, a place Tessa strongly dislikes. Though, Tessa was very thankful of Dallas when she received her bra.


Tessa is the daughter of George Altman, an architect and the identity of her mother is not revealed. All that is know about Mrs. Altman is that she was "gone quickly after the umbilical cord was cut", as said by Tessa at the beginning of the episode after explaining her strong hate of New York and Suburban mothers. Also, Sheila yells to George from outside while she is watering her lawn to tell his wife she will be dropping off a pot roast. George replies, in holler, that he doesn't have a wife and apparently the news travels quick, as later that day, Dallas Royce knows. ("Pilot")

Later, Fred, Sheila Shay's husband questions George about his wife. George denies comment, though Sheila heckles him into admitting that him and Mrs. Altman split after 3 years. Fred also called it "George's failed marriage". Later, when George and Tessa are eating barbeque on the back porch, George said that he used to know a "beautiful woman who he could not stand" and Tessa said she loves hearing stories about her mother. ("The Barbeque")

In "Independence Day", George meets with Tessa's grandma after reading Tessa's poem about her absent mother. They end up arguing like in-laws do. We also find out Tessa's mom is named Alex and Tessa apparently looks like her and has a similar personality.

In the season finale, "The Motherload", Eden worries about Tessa not being sensitive enough about her absent mother. She pretends not to worry as Chatswin celebrates its mothers during the day. Though, later Tessa drives by overlooking all the Mother's Day festivities occuring throughout Chatswin and slowing starts to tear up. When she gets out of the car, we hear a "Tessa", and Tessa turns around to see a woman she recongnized from photos - her grandma. Tessa said she wasn't only looking at the grandmother she never had, but a way to get out of Suburbia.


With Main CharactersEdit

George Altman: Father-daughter relationship. See: George-Tessa Relationship

Dalia Royce: Frenemies. See: Tessa-Dalia Relationship

Lisa Shay: Friend, neighbor, fellow student. See: Tessa-Lisa Friendship

Ryan Shay: Ex-flame, neighbors. See: Ryan-Tessa Relationship

Dallas Royce: Friend, neighbor; possible "mother" material. See: Tessa-Dallas Relationship

With Recurring CharactersEdit

Sheila Shay: Neighbor. See: Tessa-Sheila Relationship.

Malik: Friend, fellow student. See: Tessa-Malik Friendship.

With Guest StarsEdit

Evan ("The Barbeque")

Gladys ("Charity Case")

Misty ("Halloween")

Josh ("Out in the Burbs")

Physical Appearance and Personal Style/DecorEdit

Tessa's appearance is often found disturbing by her peers; for example, the motorcycle boots she wears on her first day of school leads Dalia to speculate that Tessa is a lesbian, which is false.She has shoulder-length light auburn hair with blue eyes. She is very slender and fair-skinned. She wears simple-colored attire, normally with brown, green, gray, pale orange or black. She sometimes wears dresses over T-shirts with leggings. She usually wears boots with her outfits

On two occasions she has been forced or obliged into flip-flopping her normal dress code, both times when Tessa was impersonating a suburban girl - once as "The Mall Skank", her wearing a mini-skirt and a top that reveals her midriff, accesorized with high-heeled shoes and a faux hair weave to match her natural hair color ("Pilot"). The second time was in "Halloween" when she dressed as "departed" suburban girl Misty - an outfit consisting of Misty's signature bright blue velour sweat suit finished off with high-heels, a leather handbag on her forearm, coffee drink and of course, Tessa also wore Misty's nasty old hair Bump-It. Also, Dalia made Tessa try on a sparkly white and silver dress that Tessa at first was reluctant to try on, but ended up loving and wearing to her sweet sixteen birthday party in "Sweet Sixteen". On all three of these occasions, she quickly reverted back to her normal look though.

Also, Tessa was forced to try on a tacky pink number, complete with a furry vest and a pair of bejewled goggles that matched Dalia's ("Pilot"). Aside from Dallas (who considers Tessa's personal style off-putting) purchasing Tessa a bra, she attempted to buy her a pair of "heterosexual dress shoes".

She dislikes "girly" decorations, as she took disgust in the tacky wallpaper hung up on the walls of her new bedroom, as well as the equally tacky kitten-shaped wall clock. Though, in "Halloween", she admits she's rather attached to the clock because it has grown on her.


Main Article: Tessa Altman's Quotations


Tessa: Pretty ironic that a box full of rubbers landed me in a town full of plastic.
Dalia: Are you a lesbian?

Tessa: You mean because I’m not dressed like a have a pole in my locker?

Dalia: Those are lesbian boots

"The Barbeque"Edit

  • "Have you tried running her over with your car? That's creative."
  • "I'm familiar with the rules of wussiosity."
  • "Intellectual, neurotic, self-loathing Jew. Much more my type."
  • "TessaI am being consumed by my desire for something. Something that is not good for me.
  • "I am a sick, diseased Gentoo penguin and I'm dying here!"
  • "As Ryan and his six-pack walking out of the laundry room..."

"The Chatterer"Edit

  • "Again with the pudding!"
  • “She said she was just being neighborly but it was pretty obvious she was trying to co-parent. One capfull at a time.”
  • "Don't you think it's time you hung up those mom jeans and went back to being a dad?"

"Don't Call Me Shirley"Edit

  • "What chirping birds are to the suburbs, police sirens are to the city."
  • “This place is all bitches, backstabbers and botox.”
  • “In the city, if someone called the cops over missing dolls, they’d be arrested.”
  • “Tess: So now you watch Oprah?" "George: I’m up a lot at night”
  • "Dalia? Did I accidentally summon you?"
  • "Right, Oprah."
  • “Dalia: You're room is so small. It's even smaller than the rest of your house." "Tessa: Generally, that's how it works. The rooms inside the house are smaller than the house. That's how they all fit in!"
  • "Unreal. She even sleeps like a bitch."
  • "Had I gotten away with the perfect crime or was I being played like a game of Words With Friends?"


  • "Lisa: I see you Bumped it today." "Tessa: So what, skank. It's part of my costume."
  • “Tessa: Oh I get it, you're supposed to be a lunatic!" "Lisa: I'm a ladybug."

"Charity Case"Edit

  • "At the risk of sounding negative, people around here are stupid...and wasteful."
  • "Mr. Wolf: Tessa, do you know what this is?" "Tessa: A dramatic mood shift?"
  • "I sent a homeless lady man countertop appliances and she doesn’t even have a countertop.”

"Sweet Sixteen"Edit

  • "Where else can you buy mayonnaise and nail polish remover?" "Oh, just about any store."
  • "Dalia was listening alright - she was listening to herself."
  • "I was going to look really pretty next to that pony."
  • "There were a lot of heads but none of those heads were my friends’ heads."
  • "George: You don’t like your band?" "Tessa: Yeah, but I like my friends more."
  • "They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend but in my case they were wrong. These nerds were."



  • Jane Levy took her Driving test while filming the episode "Driving Miss Dalia" this was not to experience as Tessa. Since she failed her first attempt due to an automatic fail and revisited it when she read the script about Tessa getting her driver's license and decided on getting it.
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