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Series / Life Unexpected

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Life Unexpected is a Teen Drama that ran on The CW from 2010 to 2011 for two seasons.

The series followed Lux (Britt Robertson), a 15-going-on-16-year-old girl with a problem. Given up for adoption as a baby, Lux has spent her entire life in foster care after she was diagnosed with a heart condition requiring surgery, making couples unwilling to adopt her. Tired of being bounced from one foster home to the next, Lux decides to seek out her birth parents in order to get the signatures she needs to obtain emancipation.

Her search leads her to Nate "Baze" Bazile (Kristoffer Polaha), a former high school football star who now runs a bar with his buddies. He is stunned to learn he has a daughter after a one-night stand in high school, and reveals to Lux that her mother is Cate Cassidy (Shiri Appleby), a local radio personality who Lux has listened to all her life. Cate is saddened when she meets Lux and learns she was never adopted. Both Baze and Cate give their signatures for the emancipation process.

However, Lux is denied emancipation by a judge, who decides to grant temporary joint custody to Baze and Cate, with Cate being the primary caregiver. All her life, Lux has never had parents, but now she has three— Baze, Cate, and Cate's fiance and co-host Ryan (Kerr Smith). And now it's up to all of them to somehow form a family.

Tropes used:

  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Cate and Baze.
  • Betty and Veronica: Ryan (Betty) and Baze (Veronica) for Cate and Jones (Betty) and Bug (Veronica) for Lux
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Lux. An adult version is Paige, Ryan's sister.
    • Though justifiable in Lux's case growing up in Foster Care made her cynical.
    • One could argue that Cate never grew out of this, since she acts like this far more than Lux.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Baze does it to his father in "Love Unexpected"
  • Crossover: With One Tree Hill, it's even quick to point out that Cate and Haley are remarkably similar (valedictorian, pregnant in high school, impregnated by star player named Nate)
  • Downer Ending: Season one ends on one. Baze realizes he has to tell Cate he loves her and must stop her wedding to do so. Caught in a traffic jam on his way to the church, he arrives just after "I now pronounce you man and wife". Everyone turns, stunned, as he walks through the doors... and Cate kisses Ryan as Baze stands bewildered.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Cate states in the pilot that she never even considered keeping Lux, but that didn't extend so far as her seeking an abortion. Baze, on the other hand, assumed she'd had one so he's surprised to see Lux.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Inverted. Lux, who, as a Caucasian, American baby, would normally be very desirable for couples looking to adopt, was instead overlooked due to her heart defect.
    • Used, finally, in the season finale, "Love Unexpected", as Cate and Baze's parental rights are reinstated and Lux is adopted as their child.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Lux lampshades how unlikely two brunettes having a blonde-haired child is in the second episode, where it turns out to be why she got her name (meaning "Light" in Latin). Interestingly, actress Britt Robertson, who plays her, isn't a real blonde anyway-her dark roots clearly show-and they could have just made Lux a brunette with dyed hair too.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is called noun participle e.g. 'Home Inspected', 'Formal Reformed', 'Bong Intercepted'...
  • Idiot Ball: One is handed to a main character about every other episode in order to drop an aesop about family relationships.
    • Cate's lie to Ryan about sleeping with Baze which only managed to make things worse for everyone. Thanks a bunch, Catie...
      • For bonus points, she does this just minutes after she tells Lux to be honest with her boyfriend.
    • Lux's plan and reaction in "Crisis Unaverted" when Cate says she won't take in Tasha so she won't have to go to a foster home three hours away. Lux pulled the "I never asked you for anything!" gambit and asked at the worse possible time for Cate, not even considering that, y'know, Cate has problems of her own and can't exactly handle taking in another kid. Her blaming Cate made her come off like a selfish bitch.
    • Baze picks one up when he suddenly decides to interfere with Lux's romantic life.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Cate, on her first day as a producer of the show she formerly starred in, ends up speaking her mind about how she feels about the new co-host on air because she has eaten Paige's banana-and-pot bread.
  • Is This Thing On?: Cate presses the ON button for the microphone while in the producer booth and high on Banana-and-Pot bread.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Baze.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • In 'Crisis Unaverted' Cate and Ryan's boss says that her situation 'is so Days of Our Lives. At midday I should tune in to you.'
    • From "Stand Taken": "Can you believe it's still Thanksgiving, dinner at Baze's seems like a week ago.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Lux to Baze in the pilot. He'd known Cate was pregnant, but assumed she'd had an abortion.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • In episode two, Lux gives Cate some insight on her name's origin and meaning. A nurse gave it to Lux because of the sheer rarity of a light blonde being born to two dark haired parents. Going hand-in-hand with its origin, Lux's name's literal meaning is "light".
    • It can't be coincidental that Baze's nerdy friend Matthew goes by Math. Though it's also a Non-Indicative Name because he teaches English.
  • One-Night-Stand Pregnancy: Cate and Baze conceived Lux this way while they were in high school. Baze assumed Cate had an abortion-in fact, she gave Lux up for adoption, and fifteen years later contacts them.
  • Only Sane Man: Baze's friend Math is one of the wiser, more sensible people in the show. He tends to have his act together much more frequently than everyone else does.
  • Papa Wolf: Baze goes nuts on Lux's former foster father when he insinuates that Lux came onto him. Also when he finds out that Lux is having a relationship with her adult teacher.
  • Protagonist-Centred Morality: Cate, oh so much.
    • On one occasion, Cate is furious when Baze got the venue for Cate's radio station to shifted to his bar, after their original venue was shut down after an "anonymous tip" to the police that the bar was serving minors. When Cate chews him out for doing it simply to irritate her, he points out that even so, calling the cops on the rival bar was still the right thing to do!
  • Right Behind Me: In almost every episode, one character X will say something about character Y, and in general, it's usually something X doesn't want Y to hear. Cue character Y being right behind character X as it is said.
  • Shown Their Work: The show is set in Portland OR, and they went to an awful lot of trouble to make it accurate. There's references to something Portland-related almost everywhere you look.
  • Teen Pregnancy: As part of the backstory, obviously. Cate and Baze had a one-night stand in high school and Lux is the product of it.
  • Tsundere: Cate.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Baze is looking like he could be one of these. His father owns the building Baze has made his bar, but his father instead chides him for not paying the rent, which causes Lux to empty her savings and sell a gift Baze gave her in order to help him. She confronts his father about the way he treats Baze, as well.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Season 2 features Lux hooking up with her teacher. While that on its own is not uncommon in TV, it plays out suspiciously like Aria and Ezra's relationship in Pretty Little Liars. She's the same height. He teaches the same subject. They meet in a bar. He's resistant to the relationship.