Saturday, January 9, 2010

My So-Called Adoption

Today at the TCA, the CW Network presented its new series premiering at midseason, Life Unexpected (the x, critics seem to be relieved, is no longer capitalized.)

The show's creator, Liz Tigelaar, spoke passionately and from first person experience about the fantasy element of an adoptee's life. Back when she was growing up, she says, she knew she had been born in DC, and so liked to imagine that she was the secret daughter of Nancy Reagan (!), and deserved to be living in the White House. (Her adoptive mother, she says, reminded her that basic math would show that this was not possible.)

"I don't want a baby, but i'd love it if a teenager showed up on my doorstep," Tigelaar enthused, in explaining how the idea occurred to her that immature bar owner Base (Kristoffer Polaha) and radio DJ Cate (Shiri Appleby) would be confronted one day by Lux (Brittany Robertson), the now teenaged daughter they gave up for adoption who needs their signatures to be emancipated from the foster care system. But then, not surprisingly in order to provide the setup for this series, the judge decides that Lux must stay in the uneasy dual custody of her birth parents. And so starts this story of an unconventional, dysfunctional family, augmented by Dawson's Creek's Kerr Smith, who here is all grown up himself as Cate's radio co-host and boyfriend.

Tigelaar says she herself met her real birth parents just recently, since starting this project. Her birth mother, whom she met in November, categorically stated, "I am not a radio DJ," in contrasting the show to their real lives. And "my own [adoptive] parents made me feel so special, and so wanted. And this girl [Lux] didn't get that at all," says Tigelaar, who like her alter-ego Robertson is a beautiful blonde, in contrasting the show to her real story.

And so, the details of the show come purely from Tigelaar's imagination as a writer, having gained her experience working as the assistant to the prolific and much-adored TV writer Winnie Holzman, creator of My So-Called Life, and writer of the book for Broadway's Wicked. Perhaps Life Unexpected will be the successor to that beloved but prematurely cancelled show, a 2nd Decade carrier of that teen angst pedigree.

Life Unexpected debuts on the CW on Monday, January 18 at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific.

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