March 23, 2010

These People Need Way More Therapy Than That

There are two reasons I cannot believe that the PTB titled this week's episode of Life Unexpected "Family Therapized."

1) That is a shit title and if you're going to make up words, you should try a little harder than "therapized." Could they not have went with something slightly less on the nose, like "Family Analyzed" or anything else that used actual English words?

2) There was barely any therapy in the fucking episode! I mean, they should have named the episode "Orphan Traumatized" or "Mother Penalized" or "Therapy Over-Simplified" or the increasingly necessary "Viewers Unsatisfied."

I know it's getting harder and harder to tell that I actually like this show because I have been pretty hard on it, but I swear, it's tough love. I want the show to get better and more even and more well thought-out so that it will stick around.

This week's big problem is that Lux has snuck out of Baze's place to spend the night with Bug one too many times and is busted for a curfew violation which sends up some red flags with her case worker. The family inspection date is moved up and the three stooges must come down to Fern's office and prove that Lux is in good hands. Talk about your Herculean tasks!

In preparation for this, Lux continues to be a fucking brat to Cate while Cate tries and fails to get Bug a job at the radio station. Lux manages to make Cate the bad guy not just for failing to come through with the job but also for trying in the first place. I swear, that kid needs a smack! But then Baze finally realizes he is the actual boss somewhere and just hires Bug to help out at the bar and he's once again Lux's hero.

With Bug's less than triumphant return, I was sure that he'd be the most detestable part of the episode but this week the writers went back to Original Bug and made him seem like a likable fellow again. I'm not fooled of course, because while they may not remember he's a car-stealing, emotionally and verbally abusive jack-hole, I have not forgotten. Still, he's actually quite nice about Cate making an effort to get him a job and he's a darn good worker for Baze too.

But this isn't about Bug, and everyone but Lux totally knows that. For during a a have-it-out session up in the loft, Cate is taking her frustration with Lux out on Baze and giving him the what-for for hiring Bug. Baze rightly voices every one's general frustration with this show in general when he hollers "this isn't about Bug, I don't even care about Bug!" Unfortunately Lux and Bug are standing behind him at the time. This is one of those episodes where the writers don't think Lux is smart anymore so they have her taking that over-literally and, of course, Bug has that big chip on his shoulder so he manages to not understand the very clear sentiment "this isn't about Bug" and storm out with a snotty remark. During the commercial break that followed that scene, I went out and had my tubes tied.

The stooges manage ro realize that they can't be a well-adjusted family so they need to lie and fake it. Not a single one has the sense to get their lies straight though so they go in to Fern's office and make up three separate and completely obvious lies about what they did with each other the night before. Morons! Then Fern brings them all together and starts picking scabs. She pushes and pushes Lux to tell Cate why she feels Cate let her down and then Lux blows like Mt. St. Helens. She's a mess with accusations about how Cate abandoned her. How could she never come looking for her, to make sure she was ok and happy? How could she hold her baby in her arms and then just give her up and never look back?

Cate rightly asks why she isn't equally mad at Baze and Lux's answer is "he didn't know...and it's different." That got my hackles up because we've crossed that bridge previously on the show where everyone lets Baze off the hook because he supposedly didn't know about the baby but it's a fat lot of bullshit because he did know and Lux KNOWS he knew (if by no other means than when he told Jones last week, with Lux standing RIGHT THERE, about how he found out that Cate was pregnant!). It is simply unforgivable for the writers to keep letting Baze off the hook for everything while they make Cate the eternal and only bad guy. Teen pregnancy should not and can not be 90% about the girl and only 10% about the boy. Two people fucked in that car during the winter formal. Two people knew that the test was positive and only one of them bothered to make a thoughtful and reasoned descion while the other pretended it never happened and refused to take any responsibility whatsoever. So if you ask me, the real bad guy here is Baze!

The show doesn't want to acknowledge any of this though, so we barrel right past that bit of dialogue and find ourselves knee-deep in Cate's tearful and heartfelt apology. She can't take any of it back and she can't make Lux understand but she did what she thought was right. She could not take care of a baby by herself at 16 and she had no example of how to be a nurturing parent. She was ill equipped to keep Lux and she had to do what she thought was right by giving her up. She was assured that Lux would be adopted and raised by a loving family and as a child herself she had no reason not to believe that is exactly what happened. Why would she have sought out the child later to piss all over that, believing as she did that Lux was better off without Cate in her life?

I think this show might be the best thing that ever happened to Shiri Appleby's career. Her acting continues to be shockingly good each week.

Lux won't listen to reason (she's a teenager so at least that's realistic), so she declares that she can never forgive Cate and she storms out. That prompts Fern to realize that this is about the most normal family she's likely to find for Lux and she coaches Baze and Cate to move to legally adopt their biological child. Makes sense legally, sounds absurd.

Meanwhile, Baze has been sneakily boning Crazy Sister and Lux advises that he should stop sneaking around behind Cate's back. I think that either Lux wants mommy and daddy to get together (and there has been little evidence of that) or she really just thinks that Baze should man up, stop hiding shit and just tell Cate that he's dating her sister. After a thing where Baze "breaks up" with her and then Cate asks for her help and then she and Baze act like a couple of idiots by over-acting how they haven't seen each other in ages, Baze decides that he actually does like her and asks her if she'd like to be his girlfriend.

This is where I take a break to say that if Crazy Sister is sticking around I had better start calling her Abby. I had been reluctant to do so previously because I thought that she would only pop up now and again and, frankly, I have this predisposition to find her irritating for much the same reason I was predisposed not to like Baze when the series began. Several years ago, Alex(andra) Breckenridge was in a particularly bad season three episode of Dawson's Creek where Pacey was trying to get Dawson to be fun and Joey, ever the kill-joy, was trying to keep him the big, annoying, stick-in-the-mud he'd always been. So Pacey and Jack took Dawson to a party on the golf course and Andi convinced Joey to tag along and brought, for good measure, her friend Kate who was visiting from out of town and happened to be Jack's ex-girlfriend whom he slept with before he embraced the truth of his gayness. Kate offered up too much information about sex with Jack and she flirted grossly with Dawson and she was generally a poorly-written, terrible character who, unfortunately, was played by Alex(andra) Breckenridge. Since then, I've just found Alex(andra) so Kate-ish, mostly because I have never tried to not to. (Also it doesn't help that she was the most purposely hateful character in my guilty-pleasure treasure She's The Man.) I'm letting that all go now and just thinking of the poor girl as Abby, Cate's crazy sister. (P.S. that is also the DC ep where Pacey fesses up to Deputy Doug that he has gone and fallen for Joey and then he teaches her how to drive a stick shift at the end. That is not a euphemism, get your minds out of the gutter! And the one where Kerr Smith hilariously delivers the line "I know Kung Fu" in a way that totally made me giggle just thinking about it. I might have to You Tube that shit later.)

Anyway, Cate and Baze sign a petition for adoption and Cate leaves it for Lux. Then Cate heads over to Ryan's house to ask him to talk to Lux for her because she's tried everything else she can think of and nothing is working. He tells her that he can't keep doing things for her and I got a little pissed because he loves Lux so why can't he do this for HER rather than for Cate. That's as good a reason as any! Anyway, this is were Shiri has the second of her two kick-ass scenes this week when she confesses something to Ryan that she's never told anyone before - that she never held Lux after she was born. The nurses asked her to but she refused because she was sure that giving her up was the right thing to do and she didn't want to fall in love with her and change her mind. She tells him that she knows she can't keep saying she's sorry for sleeping with Baze and for lying about it but that the truth is, she has changed. Every day since Lux came back into her life, she has changed a little bit and stopped being afraid to love people and want things. That's why she lied to Ryan, because she had finally realized that she wanted to marry him and she didn't want a mistake that she made before the change, to ruin everything. It sounds a little convoluted and nonsensical, I know, but she has a good point and her argument is impassioned.

Ryan finds Lux and he has another one of those deeply awesome father-daughter talks with her and then she goes back to the loft and breaks up with Baze. Seriously, she tells him she needs to move out so they can stop being so father/daughter and go back to being friends. He says that she can be his friend all she wants but he will never stop trying to be her father. Then he goes and kind of begs Bug to come back because he may have hired Bug for the wrong reasons, but he wants him to stick around for the right ones...or something. It's kind of dumb but it did include the following line from Baze:

"You remind me of me. Except for the neck...situation."

It kind of amuses me how this show acts like he's the only person ever to have a neck tat. Ahem! Bug does come back to work (and what a colossal fucking mistake it is to give that delinquent a key to your BAR!) and then Baze asks him if his father is in the picture. Bug says he isn't and Baze proposes that since Bug kind of needs a dad and Baze needs to learn to be one, Bug let Baze practice on him. Seriously, that was almost a direct quote!

Lux asks Cate if she can come back home, warming the cockles...temporarily that is, until she throws another massive fit when Cate doesn't let her flush thousand dollar bills down the toilet or something. And then Ryan tells Cate that she was right, she has changed and he loves her and wants to get back together with her. And as they are hugging, Lux walks in and Ryan says to her, over Cate's shoulder, "I'm home too."

So one step forward vis a vie my request for the family to include the more interesting dynamics of Ryan (and Math and Jamie...and possibly Abby, I guess). But two steps back with Bug's continued presence (and his uneven, all-over-the-damn-place characterization) and Lux's mostly unlikable shit with regard to Cate...and Bug...and sometimes Baze...and occasionally Jones but he wasn't in this episode so I guess I can't hold that against her this time.

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