Nothing builds season finale anticipation like a good love triangle. In the great tradition of Pacey vs. Dawson and Ben vs. Noel, “Life Unexpected,” only 12 episodes in, already has fans making Team Baze and Team Ryan t-shirts.
It’s all in anticipation of the Monday night (April 12) season finale in which Cate (Shiri Appleby) will be forced to choose between Baze (Kristopher Polaha), her daughter’s charming ne’er-do-well father, and Ryan (Kerr Smith), the radio host she’s engaged to marry.
At least, we think she’ll choose. “I can see why she’d choose either,” creator and showrunner Liz Tigelaar tells Zap2it. “Or, you know, she could go the route of Kelly Taylor. We might go with the ‘I choose me!’ scenario.”
She’s referring to yet another one of our favorite TV love triangles: When faced with the choice of Dylan or Brandon, Jennie Garth’s “Beverly Hills, 90210” character chose herself.
“‘I choose me’ and [Party of Five’s] Julia having a miscarriage on the way to the abortion clinic are my two most favorite television cop-out moments,” Tigelaar laughs. “I try to choose me once every day. I mean, obviously, when two amazing guys with perfect hair offer themselves to me, I always choose me.”
There’s no clear winner when it comes to Cate’s dilemma. “Baze isn’t her soul mate just because he knocked her up in high school,” Tigelaar says. “There’s that television contrivance where, if two people stare at each other in the pilot, it’s supposed to mean that they’re a love story for all time. Do I think that there’s love between Cate and Baze? Definitely. It comes down to choice. Do you choose to invest in what somebody could be or do you stick with what’s reliable?”
This week, the time has finally come for Cate and Ryan to get married after an emotional roller coaster of a season. However, in The CW’s promo ad for the finale, an announcer says, “Nothing disrupts a wedding quite like marrying the wrong guy.”
When we mention this to Liz, she laughs. “I know! I guess we know which team The CW’s on, right? When I saw that ad for the first time, I was like, ‘They just called Ryan the wrong guy!’ I wish I’d watched that episode with Kerr. He’d probably love that. He’s always Mr. Right, but now he’s like, bad. It makes him edgier.”
Without Kerr Smith, we would’ve seen a very different season. Tigelaar admits that when she originally envisioned the series, Ryan wasn’t supposed to be a permanent fixture in Cate’s life or in Lux’s (Britt Robertson). “I always thought Ryan would be someone Cate started out with. I believed her connection with Baze would be so obvious. Kerr came in, and he wanted to be a series regular. When he said that, we were like ‘Okay! We’ll figure it out.’ Originally I hadn’t conceived it that way, but it’s so much richer now that Ryan is a real, viable option for Cate.”
He’s also an important part of Lux’s life. “When Lux is at a crossroads in her life, it’s always Ryan that she goes to. He wants Lux in his life whether he and Cate are together or not.”
Tigelaar reminds us that love triangles aren’t only found in romantic situations. “In a non-romantic way, there’s a love triangle between Lux, Baze, and Ryan. The thing I love about our show is how many non-romantic love triangles we have. Cate and Baze were kind of fighting for Lux’s attention and love for a while, too.”
Now that Lux knows about Baze’s feelings for Cate, what does she want for her mother? “There’s the little grown-up part of Lux and the kid part of Lux. Wanting your parents to be together, especially when they’re as f***ed up as Cate and Baze are, is a kid wish,” Tigelaar says. “Cate and Ryan together is what a rational, mature person would want: a healthy relationship, two people who are really in it together. There’s this battle going on inside Lux for what she wants, what she thinks is best for Cate, and what’s best for herself. This episode is going to just unravel all of that.”
The CW has yet to pick up “Life Unexpected” for a second season. Tigelaar is cautiously optimistic. “Confident is too strong a word, but I feel positive about it. I don’t mean that in competition with anybody else. I know there’s a lot of speculation that either we’re going to get picked up, or ‘One Tree Hill’ is, and maybe that’s true. I think a lot of shows should get picked up. Ratings-wise, we seem on par, but there are so many factors that go into it.”
The best thing fans can do to help keep “Life Unexpected” on the air, according to Liz, is to watch the finale, so make sure you’re tuned in to The CW Monday at 8 p.m. EST. And don’t stop there. “We’ll re-run again leading up to The CW’s final decision, so watch the reruns, download it on iTunes, and watch it on CWTV.com,” Tigelaar says. “No effort is wasted, and we’re all just so appreciative.”
After you watch, don’t forget to check back in with Zap2it to find out what Liz Tigelaar has planned for a potential Season 2. In the meantime, Zap2it’s KorbiTV has more from Liz on Cate’s options and Season 2!
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Photo Credit: The CW