Suburbs in the US are pretty much the product of two economic truisms...cheap land and cheap gasoline (petrol). They are communities that were designed from the ground up to be automobile friendly, and in many cases automobile exclusive.
Prior to the development of the modern American suburb in the 1950s, most people lived near where they worked in cities. Post war America resulted in the birth of the American dream of car and home ownership, where a car could bring a worker from a home built on cheap land to a job in the city using cheap gasoline on huge super highways. There was a tipping point where those could afford to buy a car and commute moved to the suburbs, and those who couldn't kept living in cities, often in slums. This division was also starkly ethnic: whites moved into suburbs, while blacks stayed in urban cities. This division still persists today. Much of our national politics are also a result of this division.
I think the bleakness from suburbs comes from this divide to a certain extent. Americans are always striving to be individuals, and suburbanites are the antithesis of this; their socioeconomic class is homogeneous. We've also learned that suburbs create a lot of problems, namely traffic and pollution, much more so than cities themselves do, especially as the industrial age has shifted to the information age.
On the other hand, economics alone point to their appeal. The majority of all Americans still live in suburbs, and the majority of new housing developments are in suburban areas. For all the criticism and jokes about how they are dull and all the same, they are still clearly the way the majority of Americans want to live.
Over the course of the twenty-first century American suburbs will change a lot as the price of gasoline increases and new transportation options are considered and/or developed. Those suburbs that don't adapt, and are only accessible by car, will become the new slums as the value of the land falls because people are moving back into urban areas.