Thursday, January 20, 2011

Life Unexpected Ends Unexpectedly

     It seems like not that long ago (last April 13th, actually) when I wrote a fond farewell to what I was sure would be Life Unexpected's series finale. Thrilled that the CW gave the little show a second season this year, though it was renewed well after last spring's finale, so we were left hanging for quite awhile, I find myself with mixed feelings that the show is gone for good. Ok, it's not officially canceled, but it might as well be. Kudos to the network for allowing a second chance, but the ending, while plenty tear inducing, also left me frustrated, more for what it didn't show than what it did. As such, I will be focusing this review on the final moments of the show, rather than the whole series, whole season, or even the whole episode.

     The big news, of course: Baze (Kristoffer Polaha) ended up with Cate (Shiri Appleby). How could you not cry when Lux (Brittany Robertson) interrupted their make-out session to call them (for the first time seen on screen) Mom and Dad? Of course it was the dream of every child who grew up without parents, or parents being together. This was also the dream of many fans of the show, not counting myself among them. Yes, I longed for that in season one. But Baze was moving on in season two, and Ryan (Kerr Smith) was so well fleshed out as a likable character... It seemed more realistic that Cate would stay with Ryan.

     I praised the show the first time around for doing the unexpected, ending with Cate marrying Ryan. Cate and Ryan were just so invested in each other, that even after their marital problems this year, I was not happy to see them broken up. It seriously tainted the moment. Had the show been given another two seasons, as the final few moments were set two years in the future, I could easily see Ryan having left Cate to raise his baby with Julia (Jamie Ray Newman, Drop Dead Diva, Eureka) in a more natural way. Plus, it would have helped their radio careers to have them fight a lot and eventually divorce, but stay on the show. Or even not fight too much, as they seemed to still care for each other, and Ryan stayed in Lux's life, as he should have. But as Julia had barely been seen up to this point, it bothered me immensely. It was just too abrupt.

     Baze, like Cate, also had another love interest, in the form of Emma (Emma Caulfield, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gigantic). It broke my heart when he ended things with her. I totally understand. I knew finding out that she had had a four year affair with Baze's father, Jack (Robin Thomas), would end things between them. How could it not? As such, I blame the writers for ruining such a perfect pairing with that twist. On the other hand, the couple got really serious, really quickly, and had the show continued, I guess it would have been a bit boring for Baze to settle down with a woman so quickly. Not for me, but for most viewers, who like the on again-off again stories. Still, I missed Emma in that ending.

     Another option for Baze, and the one I thought was happening at first, was having him end up with Alice (Erin Karpluk), who was almost absent from this season entirely, but managed to be in the end. When I saw a pregnant Alice sitting next to Baze, I assumed she was his happy ending. It made sense. She was sweet, pretty, and recently divorced before the jump forward. Sure, since she wasn't with Baze, I am glad she was with Math (Austin Basis). Math is the epitome of a nice guy, and his unluckiness in love has been disheartening. I don't wish to take away from his happy ending by complaining. I'm just very unsettled by the whole last minute Cate - Ryan split, and that has influenced my whole opinion of the end.
     The other thing I had hoped for was the return of Eric (Shaun Sipos). As someone in the teaching world, I was disgusted by the Lux dating a teacher arc. But I also saw how they came together, completely unaware that they were doing anything wrong, and it hurt my heart a bit, too. Eric was good for Lux, and I had hoped he might return after she became legal age. Unlike the other relationship jumps, I'm fine with Lux ending up with Jones (Austin Butler), even though he had been dating Tasha (Ksenia Solo). Jones was the ultimate symbol of how Lux had been healed emotionally.

     I also wish for another season so I could see Lux fall in and out of love with Sam (Landon Liboiron) before she settled on Jones, as that was clearly being set up before the finale. She had some more healing to do, and Sam would have helped that process along, being a good choice for the damaged Lux, but on the road to healing himself from his parents' broken home, he could have taken her with him. Sam's continued presence would have kept Emma around long enough for Baze to try to get past her past, if he ever could, which is doubtful, but how I hoped it would go.

     Happy endings were also given to Jack, who was at the graduation sitting behind Baze, presumably with their relationship once again on the mend, and Jamie (Reggie Austin), who had almost disappeared from the show in season two. I felt like Kelly (Amy Price-Francis), similar to Sam, lost a good ending because of the pressures of wrapping up the show. Paige (Arielle Kebbel) was even more cheated, as she had been worked fairly prominently into this second season, just to go missing in the final couple of episodes.

     Life Unexpected wasn't always consistently top notch, often (especially in its sophomore year) falling to cheese or what seemed like too much drama. However, it was also often heart warming, and I will miss it.

Article first published as TV Review: Life Unexpected Ended Unexpectedly on Blogcritics.

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