Life Unexpected

21 12 2009

Tonight I had the opportunity to watch the first three episodes of Life Unexpected, courtesy of the The CW, which sent me an advanced copy.

The show centers around 15-year-old Lux (which is why the show was formerly known as Life UneXpected), a young girl who is seeking emancipation after spending her life being bounced around foster homes. Since she was never adopted, she needs the signature of her birth parents and sets out to find them. She does (in seemingly record time, mind you) and both are understandably shocked.  All three are then thrown for a loop when the judge, instead of granting emancipation, makes Lux’s parents temporary co-guardians.

For months critics have been raving about the show, saying it is reminsicent of The WB, where substance and heart were favored over style and shock.

They were right.

Life Unexpected has the wit of Gilmore Girls and the emotional complexity of Everwood. Less than 20 minutes into the first episode, tears were already welling up in my eyes. I was moved several times, in fact, but also giggled and chuckled a ton, too. That’s not to say there aren’t any cliches or weak points but as we know from watching the teen dramas, those are to be expected. It’s not surprising executive producer/writer Liz Tigelaar started out working for Dawson’s Creek and it seems she learned well.

Shiri Appleby (Rene, Beverly Hills 90210) stars as Lux’s mother, who is in a romantic relationship with her radio show co-host, played by Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek). It was hard at first to see Appleby as a mom but perhaps that is the point: her character Cate is only 32 years old, making her a teenager when she got pregnant with Lux. Smith, who has thankfully dyed the grey out of his hair, is definitely in a supporting role, one whose future on the show I question despite the press materials. He’s included as if he’s here for the long-haul but it seems to me that Cate and her babydaddy Nate, played by Kristoffer Polaha, are destined for each other in the end. It’s also worth noting that this will be the third show on The CW right now with a main character called Nate.

Lux reminded me of One Tree Hill’s Sam (Ashley Rickards), the foster child Brooke (Sophia Bush) takes in in season 6. The two characters may not look alike but their personalities are strikingly similar. Cate has shades of Brooke as well and at times the plot felt very familiar. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth watching. The three episodes held my attention throughout and I’m eager to see what other angles of this story–which easily could’ve been depicted entirely in a 2-hour movie–are explored throughout the season.

I highly encourage you to tune in on January 18, when Life Unexpected premieres after the new episode of One Tree Hill. I’m honestly worried about the ratings the show will get both that night and in the weeks to come since, as I mentioned above, this show sooooo isn’t a CW show. While I personally think that’s a good thing, other viewers may not. Here’s hoping there’s enough people out there clamoring for the days and ways of the WB.

I have to note, though, that Life Unexpected won’t be covered extensively on this site since it is not a teen drama. I will continue to include it as I have thus far: when there’s something relevant to Smith or Appleby or some other teen drama connection. But, again, I really hope you’ll watch it.

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22 responses

21 12 2009
thebestlex

Yeah, soon as I saw the preview, I was like “people who watch the CW are so not gonna watch this…” it’s more of an abc family show…

22 12 2009
Melissa Pisan

Sounds great! I hope it goes well – the world needs less drama and more realism! I loved Everwood, Dawson’s Creek & Gilmore Girls, so maybe this will draw in older teens to watch it…lets hope!

22 12 2009
Melissa Pisan

Shiri Appleby was the chick from Roswell as well, right? I loved that show lol

22 12 2009
teendramawhore

Yep, Shiri was one of the leads in Roswell.

22 12 2009
Brandon M

I wasn’t planning on watching, but after reading this I’m going to tune in. I’m also going to post a link to this article on my Facebook. Hopefully it gets a little more attention. Thanks!

22 12 2009
teendramawhore

Brandon, I have to thank you. That really touched me! Made me feel like a real TV critic! Thank you.

22 12 2009
Cooper

I’ve payed a look at the pilot and I’m eager to watch more.
I agree with you in the sensations you experienced at watching: I was crying and laughing and was hooked until the end. (And it’s really hard for me to pay attention more that 5 minutes to a tv show.)
I was worried about the rest of the episodes ’cause I didn’t think they coud go on that good, but if you liked them…
I’m really in.

22 12 2009
Cooper

Two more things:
About the ratings, I really hope it does well because I’m counting with a show like this one; but it’s not like CW is having good ratings these days with all the teen drama they are displaying so, maybe people is getting tired af this, too. God willing that’s the case.
And then, I’ve never liked Kerr Smith but I found him fantastic in this role. I wasn’t expecting to like him at all, honestly, but I really really enjoyed Shiri and Kerr as a couple. I know the show is going to the parents-together direction (I loved them, btw), but Kerr’s character is going to give a tough battle, in my opinion. In this I disagree with you: they can’t get rid of him

22 12 2009
Jason

I can’t get thru watching the 5-minute trailer without getting a little choked up. Just imagine the circumstances of learning the baby you gave up was never adopted, and here she stands…still needing her parents. It’s the most-compelling storyline I’ve seen in a long time, one that will resonate with any type of viewer. For all those who constantly harp about OTH/GG/90210/MP being “clones,” it’s time to give this family drama a look…and hopefully it WILL encourage The CW to expand its horizons.

22 12 2009
Cooper

Jason, believe me, I’m really hard to move (by tv) but there were moments where you stop breathing.

22 12 2009
jeff

THIS IS INDEED A TEEN DRAMA! WITH GREAT TEEN ASTORIES UPCOMING, BASED ON WHAT I’VE READ. HOT TEEN GUYS.. AUSTIN BUTLER AND RAFI GAVRON.

PLEASE CONTINUE TO COVER.

22 12 2009
NYJOEY

Shiri Appleby was Liz Parker, the female lead in Roswell….it would seem likely that she is more well known for that role than the role she played on BH 90210 for one episode.

N.Y.JOEY

P.S. Very nice site! Keep up the great work! ;=)

22 12 2009
teendramawhore

Cooper: I understand your concern about the future episodes being as good as the first. As I said above, there are cliches. I’d be lying if I said the second and third episodes weren’t predictable. But they were well done and it makes me look forward to see how they further twist stories we may think are familiar and how they create their own. I’m obviously a Kerr fan from Dawson’s Creek and his acting style here felt very similar. I did like his coupling with Shiri but she and Kristoffer have chemistry as well. We definitely have two ships brewing…

Jason: I kind of wonder if this is The CW taking a chance, looking at a different type of show to see if this is what audiences want. We all know how much they’re struggling and maybe they’re finally realizing that a “destination for young women” doesn’t mean shows can only have glitz and glam or sci-fi and violence. A lot of people just want a good ol’ heartwarming family story.

Jeff: I appreciate your enthusiasm and respect your POV but though this show has a teen character and explores a few teen issues (and I do love me some Rafi Gavron), I consider it to be a family drama first and foremost. As such, the coverage here will be limited. Sorry.

NYJOEY: Nice to see you here! I know Shiri is more well known for Roswell but that wasn’t the point. This is a site about teen dramas so if an actor/actress is mentioned, I point out the teen drama connection (assuming there is one). I don’t consider Roswell a teen drama and Shiri does have a teen drama connection, which is why Roswell wasn’t mentioned and the BH90210 role was.

22 12 2009
NYJOEY

Oh really?
You don’t consider Roswell a “teen drama”? Well, what would classify it as?
I thought it very much was a teen drama with a little sci-fi thrown in…..at least it was the first season. IMHO of course. YMMV. : )
Thank you for the nice welcome.

22 12 2009
NYJOEY

Edit:

That question should read: Well, what would you classify it as?

NYJ

22 12 2009
Cooper

teendramawhore, thank you very much!
I don’t really care about the cliches (all the series are more or less the same, more when teens and families are involved. I guess up to this point we’ve seen everything). Just wanted to know if they were enjoyable, funny and in the line of the first one.
I had heard very good things about LU and once I watched it I found they were all true. When they said “absolutely charming”, it was really “absolutely charming”. So I thought “will they be able to keep on like this?”

As for the couples, I liked both men and both couples, and I have to give credit to Shiri Appleby because she was really one woman with Kerr and another woman with the other guy, and made it completely believable.

22 12 2009
teendramawhore

JOEY: If it’s not covered on this site, then I don’t consider it a teen drama. I see Roswell as a sci-fi drama, one that should be grouped with Smallville, Supernatural, etc. There’s tons of shows that many people classify as teen dramas (and Wikipedia does in fact list a gazillion) but I think only the six shows that are covered here are true teen dramas. At least by my definition. People are free to have their own! (By the way, you lost me on YMMV…)

Cooper: Well, for episodes 2 and 3, they do keep it up. I know Tigelaar is already writing the season finale and I can only hope things are just as good at that point, too. I agree with your point about Shiri. I guess that will be an issue they explore: who is the real Cate, who is the woman she wants to be? And which man brings that out in her?

22 12 2009
NYJOEY

O.K.
That’s fine….we just look at it differently…..to me, Roswell was the ultimate “teen alienation” show! (pun intended)
Roswell was the first show I really got into and it amazes me how many people still love and miss the show.
This new show Life UneXpected or Unexpected looks like a keeper to me…at least I hope so anyway….I tire of the usual that passes for entertainment nowadays….so I look forward to this with high hopes.

Oh yeah, YMMV= Your Mileage May Vary

22 12 2009
teendramawhore

It’s just Life Unexpected now, no more capital X. Hopefully you’ll like it.

Never saw YMMV used before. Clever.

22 12 2009
Alyssa

Wow, you got the first three episodes?! Lucky. Lol. I think I’m going to like this show too. This kind of family drama seems right up my alley, although I do not need another show to watch 🙂 … Thanks for the summary.

19 01 2010
Melissa Pisan

Hi again, do we have any knowledge whether the show will be aired over here in Australia?

Until then I’ll settle with reading your posts!

I agree about Roswell as well – I consider it a Teen Sci-Fi show along with Buffy, Smallville & Supernatural…

But I love it all the same lol.

Keep up the good work!

19 01 2010
teendramawhore

Aw, thank you, Melissa! Unfortunately, I do not know when it will air in Australia. The episodes should be on The CW’s site a few days after they air, so I would check there.

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