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'Life Unexpected' creator Liz Tigelaar on finale: 'By the end, they all get to where they are supposed to be'

Lifeunexpcted It’s a life cut short somewhat unexpectedly.

Though the CW's “Life Unexpected” hasn’t officially been canceled,  creator Liz Tigelaar isn't too optmisitc about the fate of the show given the network's decision not to order the remaining back nine episodes needed for a full season. 

She's fashioned an ending to the sophomore series about two unlikely parents  (Shiri Appleby as Cate and Kristoffer Polaha as Baze) whose lives get turned upside down when their teenage daughter  (Britt Robertson as Lux) re-enters their lives.

The two-hour finale airs Tuesday and Tigelaar is confident it will leave fans of the show feeling content.

Tigelaar spoke to ShowTracker about the show, the idea of taking it to another network and tying up loose ends.

What do you make of the fact that the folks behind the show keep stressing it's the 'season finale' not 'series finale'?

Well, I think it’s a little more certain than whatever we’d like to think. I don’t think it bodes particularaly well for us but, yes, we’re always very hopeful and obviously would love to keep going if we could. That would be amazing. I don’t feel like that will happen ... but, you know, maybe. Stranger things have happened.

What do you think went wrong?

I think it’s a combination all around. I do think it was a show that needed some support. We were only on for 13 episodes in mid-season. We didn’t really have the numbers behind us to kind of come back on our own as a second season show. We definitely  needed more support [from the network] than what we got.  But  that’s how it works on the CW. They promote their brand new shows.  We were not exactly a special case or treated any different. I think that our ratings weren’t that much lower than other series but maybe still low enough to be the lowest … I don’t know. Overall, I think that our show was so inexpensive and our ratings weren’t that much lower than the other shows. I think it comes down to just 'want.' If they wanted the show, they would have kept it. If they didn’t, they won’t … so …

Also, I don’t think it matches their brand perfectly. I think it’s a little bit outside of the box for them.

Have you explored the option of taking it to another network? Where might it fit, in your opinion?

The likelihood of something going from the CW to, like, ABC or NBC is impossible … I think it would have been a great show for those networks, especially now with shows like “Parenthood” and networks just trying to do more family stuff. I would love if DirectTV would pick it up the way they did with “Friday Night Lights” or “Damages.” If a cable channel wanted it, that would be great. But no one’s approached us. I think once you're canceled, it’s hard to get people excited about you. It’s kind of like when someone gets dumped. You’re kind of like, ‘Well, you didn’t want to date her so why would I?’ It kind of feels a little like that. I’m also happy to go down with a show that will hopefully be remembered fondly and as something of quality.

How many seasons did you see it going for? How did you envision the characters evolving?

I think I always thought of it as a five season show. But, really, that was only in my biggest fantasy. A part of me also saw it as a three-episode show because I was like, ‘We’ll probably be on the air and then canceled.” I never really knew. I kind of just wanted to take it one season at a time. I definitely approached the second season as if we were going to get a third season and I really honestly thought we were going to get a back nine just from looking at the numbers. We weren’t that different, and what else were they going to put on? Our phrase was 'surely we’re better than nothing.' And now we’re, like, 'Wow, we’re not even better than nothing.'  That’s shocking. You know you’re bad when you’re not better than nothing. We kind of laugh about it.

I was totally surprised. I always thought that we would keep going and I thought that we would get to our end game, which is with Cate and Baze eventually finding their way together on some level.

But there wasn’t much time to tie up loose ends on the show, right?

I got the news officially the night before we started prepping the very last episode so it didn’t give us a lot of time to readjust so that was disappointing. It was kind of hinted at a couple weeks before that, but then kind of taken back. I was kind of starting to get the feeling but you have to keep going; you have to act like you’re still going. So we were planning on [episodes] 14 and 15 at that point. You have to act like the show is still going because techinically it was. It wasn’t official.

Tigelaar In the weeks that I kind of had a feeling, I started thinking with the writers on what we would do if. So I wasn’t totally caught off guard in that I had an idea and had to implement it pretty quickly. But it wasnt enough time to really arc out the last four episodes and significantly change them. I think that was most disappointing. Had we known that it was 13 and we were going to cancel from the beginning, this whole season would have probably been told differently. But we didn’t and you always have to prepare for success, and even with the finale that wasn’t a finale, it kind of ends in a final way. Not that we couldn’t come back, because we could … I said, ‘What if we air this and then come back.’ I was, like, should we leave it more open ended? But the studio was, like, ‘no.’ We want it to be satisfying. That’s what we want.

So will fans get a sense of closure? Will we see relationships end and/or blossom?

This will definitely provide closure.There’s a lot of twists and turns. A lot happens. There’s humor, definitely.  But we’re in it with these characters so there’s drama. A lot of things come to a head. Secrets come out, people have to deal with the truth and repercussions. And these last two epsiodes really change their lives. Old secrets return. It’s big. These episodes feel epic to me. And the very end is killer.

Will we see Bug [Rafi Gavron] make a return?

No!!! We won’t see Bug. We could only get Rafi for one episode this season. We planned to have him the entire season but then we weren't able to do it.

Was he working on something else?

He was out for a lot of stuff.  There was a lot of different factors.  Yeah, it was a bummer.We had a great arc with Lux and Baze and Bug planned at the beginning of the season. We just love him as an actor and as a character.

So who would you say got the best goodbye ... if this turns out to be the series finale?

Behind-the-scenes, it was definitely Kristoffer Polaha. We were going to wrap our five original people from the pilot at the same time. They were going to be our last scene of the last night. Reggie Austin [Jamie], Austin Basis [Math], Shiri, Britanny, Kris and Kerr Smith (Ryan). Kerr got laryngitis and couldn’t speak so we had to rearrange our whole schedule. So Kris ended up wrapping up on the second-to-last day and it was right before Britanny has this huge, emotional scene. She was a total, complete wreck. I was a wreck, I couldn’t even look at him. Something about Kris wrapping … it felt like he should still have one more day with the rest of us. I don’t know. It made it really real. Shiri jokes about when she and Brittany wrapped, she was waiting for Brittany to burst into tears and Brittany was like “Haha! See you in LA.” It was kind of funny. But Kris was the super emotional one.

In terms of goodbye on camera, the end doesn’t feel like goodbye at all. It’s not like ‘Growing Pains,’ where they’re all moving to a new state. It’s not that type of ending. It’s a satisfying ending that feels … it almost feels like it could launch into a new series. I was kind of, like, ‘Oh, can I pitch this new show?’ It more feels like an ending and a beginning. It felt like everyone was in this really great place … where they belong.

Talk a little bit about the Kate and Baze relationship. How do you wrap things up?

The way I always felt is that Kate and Baze seemed like the obvious ending from what the pilot sets up in TV show world. Who’s to say they are really soul mates and belong together? I think what we would have liked to have done, had the series continued, is really explore them as a couple and their relationship. There’s a part of me that thinks they are the endgame of the series; there’s also a part of me that thinks they’re not the endgame of the series … but Kate and Baze as a couple is a part of their story … whether they would have worked out or not is another story. Maybe the end of the series is just that they have a really strong friendship. It kind of depended on the life of the series.

I feel like it was a coming of age story for Kate, Baze and Lux. And I think by the end, they all get to where they are supposed to be. I think that people will be really happy with it.

--Yvonne Villarreal


Photo: (top) Kerr Smith, Shiri Appleby, Kristoffer Polaha, Britt Robertson and Austin Basis; credit: the CW. (Middle) Liz Tigelaar; credit: Getty Images.

Comments () | Archives (41)


the season finale was okay, but I really wish that there was more. britt robertson, man I couldn't get enough of her, and I don't just mean the golden locks and sex apeal toward us(men in general), I mean more of a variety from her. the show only showed her one side, crying, which was pretty realistic, and She did anger well, hysteria even, but seeing her with Rafi Gavron was interesting though it kept making her seem older, like college age. she really had a chemistry with Mr. Daniels, they seemed like... a pair, two peas and what-not, somehow they worked well, better than Gavron or Jones. Mr. Daniels was good opposite Robertson, I hated seeing them break up. Yeah, i knew it couldn't work for the show, but part of me was hoping the show could do something like the "two years later" thing, only with Mr. Daniels there. but that would have been creepy wouldn't it? meh. Robertson was the shining star of the show, but her story was really what caught my eye from the first preview of the series premire.
I just wish it could go on. It really sounds like it can't but being a foster child myself, and growing up with a life-story similar to Lux's really gave me a connection to this show that I haven't felt since the first season or two of One Tree Hill.
please, if the seasons of Life Unexpected are for sale anywhere could I catch an Email? lol. I would pay full price for the seasons, which I normally don't do (things are so much cheaper online).

This was the only CW show I watched. I loved the show and the characters. I've watched from the beginning and can't believe they canceled it so quickly. I care nothing about their other series which are full of vampires, ghouls and cheating. I'm very disappointed that the network didn't put more effort into a real show that could have drawn a new audience such as myself to their network. I think this was a bad move for CW. Good luck to the cast and crew of the show. Hopefully the show will be picked up by another network like "The Game" (another CW cast away) was.

I think it's a shame that the CW would cancel this show. This is a show that shows that things happen and people can over come them and bloom. The other shows that have remained on their network are garbage. This was a show that as a family you could sit down and enjoy it, not gather around with a bunch of teeny boppers and get a worse attitude then you already have from certain shows.
Big Mistake CW, had you given this show a chance I believe it could have been one of the best.

Liz Tigelaar, the creator of Life Unexpected, doesn't understand why it was cancelled, why it had low ratings. The reason I felt annoyed by it and stopped watching is that she irritatingly casted ugly men. The actor who portrayed looked okay, but he's not handsome. The frizzy haired man hired to portray his friend is yucky. I felt disgusted every time I saw his face and pudgy body. The creator liked the actor who played Bug and wanted him back for the entire year, even though he is unattractive and boring. She doesn't understand that people don't want to spend their spare time watching unattractive actors. Maybe she'll learn a lesson from this if she ever is given another chance.

I enjoyed that this show was so different from the rest of the series airing on The CW, but I hate to say that I was so disappointed by the ending! I understand why so many people love it, (I'm glad you do! ^_^), as well as why they probably ended things the way they did, but part of the charm that made it so distinct was the concept of "redefining family," and I really feel like they failed to do that. I loved the idea of breaking with convention and not putting Cate and Baze together just because they have a child together- as much as I enjoy their interaction, I really liked how they managed to be a family even without having to marry one another. I also loved Cate's relationship with Ryan, how they showed their struggles all the way up until their final tragedy, showing how relationships aren't all light and happy, but full of problems that you have to work through to be worthy of one another. Even with the heinous addition of Julia, I still think they could have worked through that situation. I adored the idea of Baze's independence, of Lux having THREE parents to turn to, even the idea of a sibling of sorts and perhaps another adult to rely on without it ruining Ryan and Cate's marriage- the alternative, I felt, just really made things more conventional and cliche, and while I understand why many people like it and that it wrapped things up neatly and sort of made Lux's dreams come true, it just didn't speak to me. I felt like it lost some of the edge that made it different and marginally realistic. I also must lament the loss of Sam, as I felt he was an excellent addition to the cast and truly wish we could have seen more of his interactions with Lux and perhaps see a relationship pan out at some point. Would have loved that!
All in all, though, congrats to the cast- it was great seeing peeps from the original WB every week again, Shiri, Kerr and Meredith (Roswell, Dawson's and Buffy, respectively), and hope you move on to more successes. Nice job!
P.S. The direction of the last two episodes really was good-very good job at telling a story visually. And for those of you who were big fans and left feeling satisfied, I really am glad that you got at least that. It sucks when a show you really like gets cancelled! CW has done that a couple of times for me. Does anyone else feel like this would be the right kind of show for ABC Family?

I LOVED Life Unexpected. I'm so sorry it's ending! I hope someone is smart enough to pick it up. It's a show that makes you fall in love with the characters, with their quirks and everything.
The last 2 shows were done very well.

I hope you don't get offended by my opinion here but the only person on the show that I thought was not some model was the Meth (Math? Moth? had no idea what they were calling Mathew,) guy but the rest were pretty good looking to me. Maybe I couldn't really see what they saw in the Jones guy or Eric but the two looked similar to me. Anyway the point of my rant is that we all have different tastes and who you are attracted to is totally subjective. It was in my opinion that I thought most of the guys were pretty attractive. Especially Baze and Ryan. But you know, people that we might not consider attractive can be totally attractive to someone else.

This show became HORRIBLY ANNOYING after the first few episodes. It had potential but there were so many little things that turned out wrong.

1. One of the most annoying things about this show which the writers probably overlooked are the irritating & awkward names of the characters: Baze, Lux, Bug. Over and over we had to endure hearing Baze and Lux and Bug. It became really grating!

2. Also, there was no eye candy for the female & gay male viewers. The dad and stepdad are very plain John Doe types of men. And the boyfriend Bug has a rocking body but a strange looking face. You might think this doesn't matter but it's actually extremely important - just look at the success of Vampire Diaries which is overflowing with hotties such as Ian Somerhalder.

3. The mom (Shiri Appleby) always had that same worried/annoyed expression on her face. There was no variety with her.

4. And the blonde daughter didn't really capture your attention. She had charm in the beginning but it began to fade away as she settled in with her biological parents. She just became the typical annoying bratty teenager you don't want to be around with.

5. Last but not least, it's very difficult for most people in the U.S. to relate to a 16yo girl with 32yo parents. It was just very bizarre.

It's no surprise this show will be canceled. The people behind the show overlooked way to many flaws.

This show is one of the most amazing shows on t.v.!! It is something I look forward to every week!! It is the only show I really even watch on this network!! BIG MISTAKE TAKING THIS ONE OFF THE AIR!!!! What kind of idiots work at CW??!!

I really think that this was a genuinely good show. The characters were warm and their drama is so real. I wish that instead of cancelling, CW would reevaluate and do more advertising for the show. Many people are unaware of this show, and I'm pretty sure that once one watches the show they will be addicted--just as I was. I really love this show and hope that there is a Season 3.

I was not able to veiw the season finale the evening it aired, but fortunately able to record the show. This evening, several days later, I was finally able to settle down and watch the two hour show.

This is truly the only tv series that I have enjoyed immensely and made a connection with the cast. I have several favorite shows but they are typically comedies or Crime series. I was amazed by how the characters were able to touch me emotionally on so many levels. This is a credit to the writer and the cast. This series is the only show that always left me wanting more, dreaded when the hour was up, anxious for the next week. Although, the show was geniously written my heart sank the last few minutes when Kate walked in the bar after seeing a pregnant Julia, Surprised by the forward to two years later at graduation, elated at the end when Kate and Baze kissed. My heart tugged more when Lux called out "Mom, Dad"

I can only hope they bring the series back next years with all the original cast and new characters.

Thank you.


I hate the fact that this show has ended! It was a show with substance.... ALL of the characters acted so well during the entire series. It's truly disappointing that 'another show bites the dust' just simply because of numbers. I mean, when you're a cable show that pits 'the little show that could' up against crap like Dancing with the Stars or American Idol (or any of that reality crap that is so NOT reality), it's going to easily become 'the little show that had no chance'! I believed in this show and that it had quite a bit of driving force. And, just for the record, I am a huge fan of this show and am in no way satisified with the abrupt ending of it! I know I won't miss the actors so much because they'll end up somewhere else... it's the characters and the story that I'll miss. So sad..... studio execs have so much control even when under contract.

I am shocked they would cancel great shows like this and keep shows that are totally fake cannot really happen. The average person does not want TV shows
where people have special powers, op agents. 1 is to many. I will miss Baze , Cate
Lux the whole cast it is not often you have a great storyline with a great cast in
a believeable show. At this rate I can cancel your station. Bad call on your end.

Loved this show/there were so many directions it could have gone/bummed that it is over/The end was perfect for the time allowed

i hate to see the end of this show....looked forward to watching it each week....so glad that Math found love....it was a wonderful ending, but if it gets to come back....I'd like Eric to come back to the show....

This was honestly my favorite T.V. show! I looked forward to seeing it every week, all the best shows get cancelled! Is there any way for the fans to petition for it to come back for another season?? And maybe they could show all that happened to lead up to graduation. This was my favorite cast, funny and emotional. And to the creator of the show, don't be discouraged you had a following and your network stopped you from succeeding, you have talent and if this does not work out I still look forward to the next show you decide to write.

I am shocked that the network would cancel the show. I've been a fan of CW shows for years including Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, and 90210. I feel that Life Unexpected is in that same realm. I will be disappointed if the CW starts jumping on the reality show bandwagon. After a long day of work, the last thing I want to watch is another reality show. Life Unexpected was on my list of truly enjoyable entertainment. I'm quite disappointed.

I wonder if they even consider the people that watch this show online? I happen to enjoy many shows that I don't want when they air on tv but I do watch it online when I get a chance. I'm so sad that they're stupid and letting it go. Although in the end the people who belonged together were together which I appreciated. I would have been pretty pissed if they ended it up an open ended ending. That doesn't mean I'm not upset that they didn't have enough faith in this show. Look at how much money they throw to 90210 or vampire diaries. Who the hell watches that crap?! First off, a sequel can never make up for the original. 90210 sucks. Don't even get me started on vampires.

im really upset that it ended it was my favorite show and i hope they continue it later on i do not know it got shut down ive been to many fan pages about the show and to me there seemed to be a lot of fans keep trying to make it go further my comment may be late but i could not believe it ended there was to many things unanswered it was disappointing CW made a really big mistake letting that show go its the best they have besides one tree hill i dont like melrose place 90210 gossip girl smallvillle come on those shows are not good big mistake cw makes me not want to watch that channel anymore

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