February 2, 2010

"I'm up to my elbows in ingredients."

What I'm about to say might make it seem like I don't, but I swear, I love Life Unexpected. I think it's a sweet, charming, well-acted show with very likable characters and an interesting premise. And it's made me really like Shiri Appleby which is pretty impressive since her Liz was my second most hated part of Roswell (Max was my most hated - man that guy was an insufferable dick!).

That said, Cate was right - the show is up to it's elbows in the ingredients for perfection, but it hasn't yet found the right recipe for putting them all together with a perfect result.

The best thing about this show, is the truly blended family that is created by three completely separate worlds colliding. Lux's family of Tashia, Bug and Tashia's boyfriend; Cate and Ryan; Baze, Math (and Jamie if he's still around). But, what the show keeps forgetting to do is include the members of this new family who aren't Cate, Baze and Lux. Do I care what it's like for Cate and Baze to learn to be parents and for Lux to learn to have parents? Yes. Do I think there are other, really interesting stories to be had outside of the three of them? YES!

Last night we met Baze's parents and Cate's mom and sister so there was quite a lot of talk about family, yet in the end, there were once again integral members of the blended family that were left out of key moments.

Alright, so when Ryan takes it upon himself to announce Baze as the father of Cate's newly discovered kid on the radio (which was a pretty dick move even though he wasn't being malicious about it), Papa Bazile's general disappointment in his son reaches critical mass. He ORDERS Baze to bring Lux and Cate to dinner which, even if he hadn't already exhibited every other possible dick-y characteristic up to that point, would have been enough to make me hate him with a white-hot intensity, because who the fuck does he think he is dictating when, where and with whom a grown adult woman of no relation to him will be eating?

But I digress. Baze owes his dad rent on the bar and he doesn't have it so he's extra super worried about not making his dad any madder than he already is. Thus he tries to convince his ladies to accompany him to the Bazile estate for dinner. Lux has plans with Bug and Cate wants to make dinner for Lux and it's another round of everyone assuming shit that's making asses out of all and sundry.

With Lux locked in the attic with Bug (and holy crap do Cate and Ryan need to re-think the house rules and the accessibility of the attic!) and Cate burning dinner, Baze is trying to enlist Ryan's help in convincing Cate to come. This scene was pretty terrific because I am really interested in the Baze/Ryan relationship - both seem like pretty easy-going guys but I'd like to know if Ryan feels at all threatened by Baze or if they're able to move past his one-night-stand with Cate in high school and relate as two men with more in common than expected.

Off to the House of Judgement and Disdain they go - but only Baze, Lux and Cate. I had sort of hoped that Ryan would accompany Cate as her fiance to appropriately demonstrate to these assholes that while she and their son do have joint custody of a child, they aren't TOGETHER. But whatever.

Turns out that the Baziles don't just want to meet their grand daughter and her mom, they actually want to take Lux away from Baze and Cate and they've asked Cate's family to come help convince everyone that'd be for the best.

Here we are at dinner with Cate's mom - a serial-marrying, boxed wine drinking, aspiring cougar; her sister - a licensed therapist who is kind of insane (and still pretty dedicated to her high school crush on Baze while simultaneously being oblivious to the fact that he hasn't the foggiest idea who the hell she is); Baze's mom - a silently judgemental enabler who seems to genuinely love both Baze and Lux in her own way; and his dad - an enormous asshole who spends as much time as he possibly can running his son down and being overtly rude to everyone around him. He's pretty much the epitome of the rich guy who looks down his nose at everyone else yet is easily the most classless person in any room.

Dinner with this bunch quickly devolves into fights and accusations and lies and any number of other heinous, uncomfortable things until Lux sneaks out and calls Bug who swoops in and spirits her off on his motorcycle. We're to believe that the two are making plans to take her savings and run away but it turns out that seeing how their parents have treated them gives her some much-needed perspective on the uglier truths about families as well as a little compassion for her parents. So instead of heading south of the border, Bug helps her sell the bong lamp (sad!) to a gullible girl at her new school and then take the $3,200 she's amassed and pay Baze's rent while letting Papa Bazile know he really sucks.

Meanwhile, having finally stood up to his schmuck of a father, Baze is suddenly brimming with insight and helps both himself and Cate realize that they need to stop treating Lux like her whole life began when they met her. They need to open their hearts and their homes to Lux's other family.

Cate heads to the attic to apologize to Lux for switching her school without even talking about it and says that from now on, when there are decisions to be made, she, Lux, Baze and Ryan will make them together. "Like a family?" Lux wants to know. YES! Then Cate invites the kids to come for dinner the following night but Lux has a better idea. Cut to the seriously posh roof of Bug's hovel - honest to God, that roof is fancier than my house and this kid is a high school drop out with no discernible job, wtf? - where Lux has brought Cate and Baze for dinner with her other family. But where's Ryan? Why is this show having such a hard time embracing the larger idea of this blended family?

It's good stuff and I cried again, but I'd just like to see the writers get a better handle on the bigger picture here. That includes more scenes of Math and Lux at school - those scenes were sweet but not mined for nearly all they had to give.

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