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'Life Unexpected': Family ties

February 1, 2010 | 10:59 pm
Family: Can't live with them. Can't live without them? After meeting Lux's (Brittany Robertson) makeshift family of friends last week, this time around Lux was forced to meet the family that bred her newfound parents. And what a bunch they were.

Saint Ryan (Kerr Smith) recaps Cate's (Shiri Appleby) new situation for the radio station's listeners, but it also works as a recap for first-time viewers. In sum, it went something like this: Cate is a commitment-phobe. Cate is now a mother to a teenager. Everyone's all caught up now, including Cate's sister, who calls into the radio station. Crazy Abby (Alexandra Breckenridge), as Ryan calls her, is a therapist who's just returned from a spiritual journey to cleanse her soul to find out her sister is now a mother. Crazy Abby thinks the father is Dewey Johnson the Wasp, not to be confused with WASPs. Those are Baze's (Kristoffer Polaha) parents. Dewey was the school mascot, a wasp. Believe it or not, this is not the worst school mascot I've ever heard of, but I'm still thankful Cate didn't lose her virginity to Dewey the Wasp. Maybe Math had more of a chance with Cate in high school than he thought.

Baze's dad (Robin Thomas) also finds out about his son's new daughter from the radio program -- seriously, folks, didn't we learn our lesson about watching what we say on the radio last week? -- and heads over to Baze's bar, where Lux is hanging out while Baze is doing his laundry, otherwise known as getting his mommy to do it for him. Lux gives him the 'tude – “I didn't give it to you,” she says when he asks her name. She asks him if he has a name and he replies, “I'm his father.” Meet your cold, unfeeling grandpa, Lux!

He insists on meeting Cate and Lux over dinner because, “If we're going to bail you out, we need to know how deep the mess is,” he tells Baze. Ouch. But Baze shouldn't have lied about knowing that Cate was pregnant. You just know the moment that lie leaves his lips that it's going to come back and bite him in the ass before the hour's over.

Cate is reluctant to go over to Baze's parents' house for dinner because they're elitist snobs. Baze points out that she just described herself, so they will totally love her. "How do you date her without killing her?" he asks Saint Ryan, whom Baze calls the voice of reason when he says Cate should go. After all, Lux deserves to know her grandparents and if they don't go, Cate will just be worrying about what Lux is doing in the attic. That and Cate once again burns a meal. I must pause to reflect on the meeting of boyfriends past and present, which wasn't nearly as awkward as I thought it would be, except for Baze not knocking.

Suddenly, Lux is being dragged off to meet her new family when all she wants to do is make out with her boyfriend Bug (Rafi Gavron) in her secluded, unreachable -- note to Cate and Ryan: Get a longer rope --  attic bedroom. I can understand Lux's reluctance. Lux has a family of friends, but she's never had to deal with a blood family or familial obligations. You can pick your friends, but you can't pick the crazy people you're related to. Not to mention, Lux is an independent, resourceful gal, as she has demonstrated by cleverly spinning a fake story to befriend a popular girl at her new high school. She's not used to people telling her what to do or looking out for her in misguided ways. But now she has parents and that means having to switch high schools when Cate's protective mother instincts kick in and having to go to a family dinner, which is more awkward and tension-filled than a Friday night dinner on "Gilmore Girls."

Where to even begin with that dinner? Cate overcompensates by wearing a prom dress, but nothing will save her from the ambush that Baze's parents pull by inviting Crazy Abby and her mother (a hilarious Cynthia Stevenson) over for dinner. If Abby's nickname is Crazy Abby, then Cate's mom's has to start with Boozy. She comes running up the driveway with a box of wine from Costco and I don't think she's planning to share it. She makes life's lemons into lemonade – “with vodka,” Cate adds. Cate also warns her there's “no trolling” around allowed for her fifth husband. I can't wait to meet Cate's dad, who I'm guessing was husband No. 1. Then she unzips her jacket while insisting she was only asking about Baze's single status for her. Crazy Abby also had a thing for Baze, who mistakenly calls her Annie. Baze's complete disinterest in Crazy Abby, who I imagine must have been more popular in high school than Cate, only makes me more curious about how Baze and Cate ended up in the back of that minivan.

Then things gets ugly. Turns out the dinner is really just a ploy to take Lux away from Cate and Ryan, but their parents disagree on who's more qualified for the task of raising Lux. Baze's dad calls Cate's sister and mother “whack jobs,” while his mother (Susan Hogan) says she's not comfortable with Cate's mom taking Lux if Cate is any indication of her parenting skills. These people really don't sugarcoat things, do they? In the heat of all the arguing, Baze tears off his clip-on tie -- nice touch -- and yells at his dad for not supporting him and trying to take away his bar, which is his one means of supporting his child. And how does the said child feel about all this? She's run off with Bug, which leads Baze and Cate to realize Bug, Tasha and Gavin are the good from Lux's previous life. They arrange another family dinner, this time with Lux's family, on the roof of Bug's apartment where the atmosphere and food (hot dogs over an open fire) is decidedly less hostile and WASPy. We couldn't hear what they were saying during the closing scene, but I'm imagining Tasha (Ksenia Solo) maybe flirting a little with Baze after admitting he was cute earlier in the episode. Then again, he's “ancient. He's like thirty.”

Baze and Cate may have not figured it all out yet, but thanks to Cate's investment in a parenting book, which I really hope is called “Parenting for Dummies: I Just Found Out I Have a Teenager Edition,” they're already improving on their own parents' examples. But just in case they slip up, it's a good thing they have Lux around to parent them and put together the rent for Baze's bar, even if it did mean selling Baze's awesome bong lamp.

Readers, what did you think of Cate and Baze's parents? Were you glad to see Baze and his dad patch things up a little at the end? How fun was it to see Stevenson (“Dead Like Me,” “Men in Trees”) play Cate's boozy mom? Were you surprised that Lux was gathering money for Baze's rent and not to run off with Bug?

-- Vlada Gelman (Follow my TV musings on Twitter: @stayingin)


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Photo: Baze (Kristoffer Polaha), Lux (Brittany Robertson), Bug (Rafi Gavron) and Cate (Shiri Appleby) meet up at school. Credit: Jack Rowand / The CW