‘Life Unexpected’ has new slant on family drama

Posted Jan. 17, 2010, at 6:19 p.m.
The CW Network

Those bemoaning the dearth of family dramas on TV need only turn to The CW at 9 tonight.

Of course, the unit involved is not a traditional TV family, but there’s no doubt it’s a family nonetheless.

“Life Unexpected,” which debuts tonight, is about discovering not only where you come from, but also where you’re going.

The drama from Liz Tigelaar (“Brothers & Sisters”) tells the story of Lux (played by Britt Robertson), who has spent all 15 years of her life bouncing around the foster-care system in Portland, Ore.

With her 16th birthday approaching, Lux decides to get emancipated from foster care. To accomplish this, she first needs the signatures of her two birth parents. She quickly learns that both remain ill-equipped to be parents.

Her father, Nate “Baze” Bazile (Kristoffer Polaha, ”Mad Men”), runs a bar and remains an aging frat boy, living with his two slacker roommates, Math (Austin Basis) and Jamie (Reggie Austin). Her mother, Cate Cassidy (Shiri Appleby, “E.R.”), is a morning radio personality, and also a commitmentphobe who is unable to agree to marry her radio partner, Ryan (Kerr Smith).

Lux gets her signatures, but things don’t go as planned in family court, and the three get thrown together in an unlikely family unit.

“Life Unexpected” was the most promising of The CW’s first series announced last May. It’s heartwarming and funny without being treacly, rightly drawing comparisons to the longtime WB-CW hit “Gilmore Girls.” There’s a big risk that it will get lost opposite “24” and CBS’ hit comedies, but it’s worth being sought out by discriminating viewers.

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