Monday, February 01, 2010

Life Unexpected, "Rent Uncollected": Family affair

A few quick thoughts on the latest "Life Unexpected" coming up just as soon as I fire up the DeLorean and grab the condoms...

Each week, it seems, we meet, and/or Lux meets, a different part of her family. In the pilot, she found her birth parents. In episode two, we discovered her surrogate family of fellow foster kids. Tonight brings in Lux's grandparents (and aunt) in the form of familiar TV faces Robin Thomas and Susan Hogan (as Baze's parents), Cynthia Stevenson (Cate's mom) and Alexandra Breckenridge (Cate's sister). At some point, the show will need to put the brakes on this before we get to "Episode 21: Lux is horrified when her second cousin Frank is murdered," but for now the expansion of the show's world - and the many potential character combinations, ala "Modern Family," that we now have - has felt natural and interesting.

And in showing us how Baze's dad disapproves of him, it continues the character's evolution into something more human and likable than just the generic Peter Pan character he could have been. I never thought much of Kris Polaha (good or bad) in his previous series gigs, but more than anything else, he's what has me wanting to keep watching "Life Unexpected" past this episode (the last I saw in advance via a screener).

Again, we get the push-pull of the Lux/Baze/Cate relationship, with everyone backing away and then coming back together for a more formal meeting between Baze, Cate and Lux's friends. I'd like to see the show evolve past that soon, but the performances, and moments like Lux halfway scamming her way into the popular clique(*), still have me enjoying it.

(*) And that worked entirely because two of the girls didn't buy it at all. Had Lux successfully talked herself in with the whole crowd at once, it would have been too much, and too easy.

What did everybody else think?


David S. said...

Baze had a few good lines in this one- especially his reaction to hearing Lux's boyfriend's name (Bug). Like you said Alan, the fight-then-forgive formula is a getting a little stale, but the points these altercations make are pretty strong- these are deep issues that a lot of families deal with. I also think Brittany Robertson continues to excel with everything they give her- I really liked her scene with Baze's father. I like where the show is going and will continue to tune in.

Stef said...

Great episode, but my CW (in DC) blinked out for about 5 min. How did the tense family dinner scene end? I saw Baze's rant to his father, then screen went blank until Cate and Baze were in the van leaving.

R said...

Also got the DC broadcast, Stef, so unfortunately I can't help you out.

But I will say that I am really enjoying this show. And I really, really like Lux. I know some people were comparing this show to Gilmore Girls, but I think that she is in some ways the anti-Rory. She's clearly intelligent, but not super-precocious. She's kind, but not a doormat and clearly capable of taking advantage of someone to serve her purposes. She's interesting and, above all, she's a very believable 16-year-old girl.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Apologies if what I just said is a spoiler, can't edit the comments. Sorry!!!

I also have some issues with Bez's easy acceptance of his teen daughter paying his rent without asking where she got that kind of money in foster care or anything else. Lux as the only adult in the room only works if the other adults treat her age appropriately - Bez was thanking her like they were contemporaries. That was rather skeevy.

Anonymous said...

DC peeps, Lux left the awkward talk at the table under the guise of getting more water in the kitchen. Then the adults bickered over who was the best choice to raise Lux, Cate said, "Where's Lux?" and we heard Bug's motorcycle taking off.

I think Base knows Lux had some money saved up, since that was brought up several times in her quest for emancipation.

Anonymous said...

Bah. Lux is caving way too quickly to all of this change and not having control- and the schmaltzy moments are just WAY TOO MUCH even if well acted. I want the characters to stop acting like cutouts and be more nuanced.

I also missed last weeks episode and didn't realize it- didn't see anything in the teaser about it.


Anonymous said...

Overall I think the series is shaping up pretty well. Lux giving the grandfather her savings wasn't very believable...other than that I'm liking what I see so far.

Anonymous said...

I like the fact that now we see other family members. During the first two episodes it bothered me that there's a show here about a family, but we don't see any family - Cate and Baze didn't seem to have parets and siblings or at least didn't seem to be in contact with them.

Just two nitpicks:

1. Unless there were two generations in a row that had babies as teenagers in Cate's family, isn't Cynthia Stevenson way too young to play Cate's mother?

2. That whole conversation on the radio was way unbelievable. What kind of person announces to the world that she has a kid before telling her own family? And even if that happened, would a sister call to discuss this on air rather than as soon as the broadcast is over?