Your next “must-see” TV show? The CW’s Life Unexpected. It debuted last night and we won’t lie — the ads for it made it look like a reimagined and hokey knock-off of Gilmore Girls with a hint of Juno. And we weren’t too happy that it’ll be taking the place of Gossip Girl until the spring. But, here’s the deal — comparing Life Unexpected to those other projects puts it in very good company. Yet, it absolutely stands on its own merit. It’s smart, it’s intelligent, it’s got characters you actually care about and want to root for and a cast that we were really impressed by.
Okay, so first things first. What’s the show about? It’s about 15-year-old Lux (played by newcomer Brittany Robertson) who was given up for adoption as a baby. Sadly, she never was adopted and instead bounced around from foster home to foster home. Sick of the system and about to turn 16, she sets out to become legally emancipated. But, due to a glitch in paperwork, she technically was never officially released from her birth parents and needs their signatures. It turns out that Lux was the result of a passion fueled night between Cate (Shiri Appleby) and Nate (Kristopher Polaha) after their Winter Formal back in high school. Cate gave up Lux without telling Nate — he thought she just “took care of it” so imagine his surprise when Luz shows up on his doorstep first. Cate, it turns out is a popular DJ on the local morning show with major trust issues (she very unwillingly gets engaged to her co-host Ryan played by Dawson Creek alum Kerr Smith). She also has some major resentment towards Nate that comes out when Lux reunites them to get the signatures she desperately needs. We didn’t say this show was perfect — obviously Cate and Nate are forced by the judge to look after Lux. And a love triangle between Cate, Nate and Ryan is clearly about to ensue.
Here’s the deal. Brittany Robertson is perfect as Lux. They obviously modeled her after Juno and Rory Gilmore but she’s got her own snarky sense of humor and a different kind of pain that she’s trying to mask. Lux has been alone and abandoned all these years but she’s not broken and you root for her. Kristopher Polaha is really adorable as the grown-up frat boy that managed to shirk all adult responsibilities until Lux shows up at his door. And they bond instantly — over You Tube videos no less — and you instantly love the relationship that’s blossoming between them. Then there’s Shiri Appleby who at first we shook our heads and wondered how in the world did the former Roswell star get old enough to play a mom? Well, if you do the math — she was 15 when she got preggers, her daughter is about to turn 16 and she’s now in her early 30s. Cate and Ryan are sweet together but obviously you want her to end up with Nate. And you know what? Nate and Cate (how cute, right?) do give in to their long, lost attraction and end up sleeping together. Yes, you read that right. Normally, viewers would have to wait an entire season for the build-up of the “forbidden” couple to finally consummate the relationship. But, that’s what I loved most about this show. In real life, people jump into bed too fast and base their life around poor decisions they made as a teenager. Life Unexpected wasn’t afraid to take that universal pain by the reins and run with it. And it’s given the love triangle between Cate, Nate and Ryan a fresh twist. Can Nate grow up and have a family? Will Ryan let Cate bond with her long lost daughter and father of her child? Does Cate really want to be with Ryan? Does she really love Nate after all these years or was it just lust and confusion that lead her to sleeping with them? And how does Lux influence all these scenarios? There are just so many questions that we can’t wait to get answered and will keep us tuning in!