Thursday, April 15, 2010

TV TOPIC: Should "Life Unexpected" get renewed?

I've noticed from the poll on the right that CW's family drama/romance/comedy "Life Unexpected" hasn't exactly garnered a rabid fanbase. True, it's a series about an orphan trying to come to grips with her abandonment issues and struggling to accept her parents for the screwed-up, irresponsible 30somethings that they are, while they try their hardest not to rip each other apart (and rip each other's clothes off), but there are some good parts. It's a different kind of scandalous than the CW viewers are accustomed to. No one's plotting revenge a la Blair ("Gossip Girl") or testing new lesbian avenues a la Adriana ("90210"), but it's still fun to watch. It has the family vibe of "7th Heaven" mixed with the love triangle drama of "One Tree Hill" with much needed bursts of humor. Not to mention, the characters are easy to love.

Kate (Shiri Appleby) is a radio host with commitment issues, an alcoholic mom, a judgmental little sister, and a doting fiancee. Getting knocked up at 16 was the cherry to her shit-sundae—the first scoop of which was being abandoned by her father. Baze—high school football star, hottest guy in school Baze—was supposed to be the highlight of her high school experience. Instead he was a one-night stand in the backseat of a minivan, a huge stain that transformed into the worst mistake of her life. No, not having a baby, but giving it away. She fights every day to make up for that monumental mistake, and she fights twice as hard to battle her resurfacing obsession with Baze. It's like she's regressed 15 years, and being hostile and dismissive is the only way she can keep her schoolgirl crush in check.

Baze (Kristoffer Polaha) is the rebel man-child who makes his living slinging booze, has his fair share of daddy issues, and is completely oblivious to female emotions (both teenage and adult) 99% of the time. It never occurred to him that the girl he knocked up in high school may have been in love with him. But once it did, once he realized that one of the most intelligent and beautiful women he's ever met, actually thinks he's worthy of her, he starts to become intrigued by the idea of being with her. And slowly, slower than the Titanic theme song, he falls in love with her. And their explosive love-hate relationship becomes extremely entertaining.

Lux (Brittany Robertson) is a hailstorm of teen angst. She not only wanted to find her parents, she wanted them to be perfect when she found them. It was completely unrealistic. And she learned that quite quickly. She also learned that just because her parents are supposed to be responsible, doesn't mean they aren't human, flawed, and equally, if not more, emotional about the whole situation. After all, all she needs to do is go to school and follow rules. They, on the other hand, have to readjust to being in their former flame's life, produce enough income to take care of her, make room in their homes for her, admit to everyone what they did, attempt to please their impatient significant others, trust that they have what it takes to be parents, AND figure out how to raise a teenager. Accepting her parents for who they are instead of trying to turn them into the fantasy of what she wanted was a huge challenge for her.

Together, this modern family makes for good TV. But, does everything that's occurred this brief season merit a second one?

In the season finale, Kate and Ryan finally get married. Lux convinced her that if Baze refused to admit he was in love with her, then he made his choice right there. She told her mom that she shouldn't wait for the fantasy, but settle for reality. Of course, she said it nicer, but in the end, we all know Kate made a huge mistake. Once the I-do's were said, all that was left was the closing kiss. But then Baze barges into the church, Kate and Lux realize what he's there for, and Kate responds by planting one on a distracted Ryan.

Her message to him: Too late.
Lux's expression: Crap! What have I done? 
Baze's general feeling: Noooooo.

I asked a few of my friends and they were all over the place about how they felt. Some were saying that Lux should've encouraged Kate to go after Baze. Screw the wedding. Some were happy that Kate delivered that visual F U kiss, and finalized the wedding. And others didn't want Kate to be with either of them, which is just insane. Why would she throw away two perfectly good guys? The point is, if the series continues, what would we have to look forward to in either of those scenarios?

If Kate professed her love to Baze and demanded that he admit his feelings, then basically we'd have to watch a season of them trying to make it work, while she went to work with Ryan every day. That would lead to a lot of tension and arguments, and not just because Ryan probably signed that 5-year contract. While Baze and Kate have a sexual connection, they still have a lot of emotional obstacles to overcome. Kate, like Lux, falls for works-in-progess and then gets pissed when they don't aim for perfection or even have a sliver of ambition. And Baze bolts whenever he feels pressured. He'd rather give up than feel oppressed. Ultimately, Kate is trying to fulfill a schoolgirl fantasy and Baze just wants to feel accepted.

If Kate dumped them both until she can wrap her head around it all, then we'd have to watch them compete for her heart. Eck! And, with the current ending, it seems we'll be either watching Baze brood with no sympathy from Kate; Baze disappear to brood in seclusion, worrying Lux; or Baze beg Kate to get an annulment, pissing Ryan off. My point is that it's too predictable. If the writers could guarantee a season of surprises, then maybe viewers would be more psyched and supportive.

1 comment:

  1. I love ,the chemistry beetween Kate and Baze.