Tiny blonde Lux isn’t, as her name and description might suggest, a Labrador puppy on the payroll of a major toilet paper manufacturer. She’s the human teen centrepiece of Life Unexpected, a drama about a sharp and unfeasibly well-adjusted foster kid who seeks out her real parents. Mum Cate (Shiri Appleby) turns out to be a preppy local radio DJ with a fear of commitment while papa, Baze (Kristoffer Polaha), is a handsome waster-turned-bar-owner.
Lux (,a href="http://www.tv.com/britt-robertson/person/34061/summary.html?tag=container;cast_crew_list">Brittany Robertson) has been in care since Cate gave her up for adoption as a newborn. Now, she’s about to turn 16 and all she wants for her birthday is to be legally emancipated and so escape her latest in a run of duff foster families. But before the court will agree, she needs permission from her birth parents, who never officially relinquished their rights because she was never adopted. It’s this no-nonsense goal - not a longing to bond with her blood - that leads little level headed Lux to knock on daddy’s door early one morning and introduce herself as his genetic overspill.
Though she has urchin issues, these haven’t stopped Lux from developing a maturity and self-respect unusual in a child who’s grown up without a stable, loving family. And it not just this bit of the back-story that requires major belief-suspension. We’re also supposed to gulp down the part about how her emotionally damaged, juvenile parents can only mend and mature by bonding with their long-lost daughter. It’s that dumb adult, smart kid set-up – a device much loved (and over-used) in US teen drama.
But the choppy, cute pilot is put together well enough to suck us in. Later on, the attraction triangle that develops between Baz, Cate and her boyfriend Ryan (who’s also her radio co-host) keeps us watching. Might Lux’s parents, whose original union was one grubby high school fumble, get together for real and finish raising their daughter? After just a few scenes, it’s obvious that this possibility will underscore everything else that goes on.
There’s much micro-drama to keep us entertained as this love-match boils in the background. Lux has baggage from her pre-family life, like her gang-broken foster kid friends who don’t want to lose their gal to a couple of middleclass do-gooders. And Cate and Baz are both irritatingly well healed, with their cool jobs and fantasy homes. Baz lives in a lofty space above his bar while Cate’s house is Pollyanna chic. If the corny reunion premise puts you off, consider watching for the interiors. They’re one thing guaranteed to make your eyes roll, in a good way.
Life Unexpected, starts on Channel 4 on Sunday, 19th of September, at 7PM.