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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life Unexpected delivers better than expected

     Although Life Unexpected was expected to do all right for the CW, no one could have predicted it would do as well as it did.  It matched first season Gossip Girl ratings, actually improved significantly on the 8pm audience of long time drama, One Tree Hill.  Though it is merely a mid-season replacement, and hasn't surpassed The Vampire Diaries as CW's best new show of the year, it is well on its way to becoming a staple on the teen-focused network.

     The pilot deserves the numbers it pulled in.  The story was sweet, original, not too campy, and set up an interesting premise while introducing complex characters.  The series stars Brittany Robertson (Swingtown) as Lux, a girl given up for adoption fifteen years ago, but because of a series of surgeries to correct a hole in her heart, was instead bounced around the foster care system.  It seems no one wants to adopt a damaged three year old, or older.  Lux goes from one bad family to the next, and as she approaches her sixteenth birthday, she decides to seek emancipation so she can begin to live on her own.  There's just one small problem: apparently there was a paperwork snafu, and her parents never officially gave up all custody to her.  So she sets off to find them and get them to sign her paper.

     The said parents, who had a one night stand in high school, are bar owner Baze (Kristoffer Polaha) and the host of Lux's favorite morning radio show, Cate (Shiri Appleby, Roswell).  Baze has not really grown up, living with a couple of roommates above the bar, but immediately connects with Lux and wants to help her any way he can.  Cate, similarly is drawn to Lux, though she has her own issues, including a major fear of commitment and lack of communication skills.  This is best illustrated by her dysfunctional relationship with her co-host slash fiance, Ryan (Kerr Smith, Dawson's Creek).  The judge is reluctant to grant Lux her independence without a source of income or residence, so the two biological parents are awarded joint custody.

     All three of the main characters are well defined, and have their own interesting sets of issues.  Each parent steps up when asked, and Lux, though a bit bitter from her life thus far, wants what any child really wants - a loving family.  It is not too late for her, and obviously, through her, both of her parents will be learning life lessons as well.  As the series start, Lux is turning sixteen, and only two years away from being on her own anyway.  It will be interesting to see what turns the series takes to get her to adulthood, and how the relationships will change if the show continues past that point.  An intriguing, well written concept with a lot of heart.  Add it to your television lineup.

     Life Unexpected airs on Monday nights at 9pm on the CW.

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