Review: Life Unexpected - House Inspected
by Hemal Jhaveri, posted Jan 26th 2010 11:38AM
(S01E02) - Oh, Cate. Had I known you were capable of pulling a lowly, John Edwards-esqe move, I may not have been so ready in praise of you last week. Seriously, the one thing I can not overlook in this episode if how quick Cate was to deny her daughter's existence on her radio show. The same radio show that Cate knows Lux listens to religiously.
Happily enough, everyone else was around to pick up the slack as Lux decides if she really can trust her new parents, and if they, in turn, can earn legal foster parent status.
Get ready to have your heart strings pulled, hard.
As a plot contrivance, Cate's boss demanding she deny paternity to maintain her own-air image was just improbably unbelievable. Let's not even get into how hard it is to keep a stupid secret like that in this day and age with the Internet. I mean, why go through the trouble of being the foster parent if you can't own up to it publicly?
Even worse, it was badly played because it made Cate look not just nervous about her new role as a mom, but turned her into a cold-hearted bitch. I mean, who the hell is willing to publicly deny the existence of their own child, aside from dirty politicians? You can't do that and still earn the audience's respect. For most of this episode, I wanted to shake her and tell her to grow the hell up.
We also knew that she'd change her mind my the end of the episode... so really, it's just a waste of a story line that put a big black eye on her character.
The rest of the episode introduces us to Lux's foster kid friends, a rag-tag bunch who want Lux to come live with them, not her new parents. She wavers between the two, torn between her loyalty to the family they've become and her desire to have a real home with a mom and dad. It's a heartbreaking choice for her, since she doesn't want to abandon the people who have been there for her, but also wants what she's dreamed of, a mom, dad and her own room.
Brittany Robertson does a great job of conveying Lux's torn loyalties without making it schmaltzy. The scene with her and Kerr Smith (Cate's boyfriend Ryan) was well done. Their heart-to-heart as she packs her things to leave was a nice way to incorporate his role into her life. He's there to stick up for Cate, but also to show he cares. Again, that aspect was well-executed.
While Cate's neurotic side is irritating, I think Baze's antics are charming, if only because every kid needs at least one cool parent. Though, I'm not sure Baze is a "parent" at all. Right now, he's the cool older brother Lux never had. Protective and willing to show up in a cab with his drunk buddies after a bender, to make sure she gets to school. It's charming at first, but the second or third time it happens, really freaking old. Baze can be good comic relief, but it'll be good to see this character fleshed out a bit more.
So, combined with Cate's bad judgment and Baze's inability to stop being a drunken frat boy, this episode made me think Lux may be better off on her own, at least that way she won't be emotionally screwed around with. I'm only surprised that Lux was able to forgive Cate so easily for her transgression. She's far too well-adjusted.
In that sense, I think the smackdown that Baze's friend, Math, the slightly chubby guy, delivers after the failed home inspection (really, dude, you left a bong turned into a lamp out?) is most appropriate. I'd been waiting for some adult on the show to be more mature than the teens, or at least less neurotic, and his harsh rebuke was fitting. He's right, it's not a joke anymore, no one is laughing and you should grow the hell up.
As the predictable story line wraps up, I think the second episode was much weaker than the pilot. There were no real surprises in story-telling, just worn cliches about foster kids being thieves and yuppies being self-centered. Let's hope we move on after this to a few more original ideas.