Carter has a fun life. She’s 16, and has a mom who ascribes to the BFF form of parenthood.
Then, overnight, she finds she’s not Carter, and that cool woman is not her mom.
MTV’s compelling new series, “Finding Carter,” premiering with a double episode Tuesday, July 8, is that rare drama that appeals to a teen and adult audience. Carter (Kathryn Prescott, “Skins”), was kidnapped as a toddler, and is reunited with her biological family, in the pilot.
The drama opens with Carter (Kathryn Prescott, “Skins”) enjoying frozen yogurt with her mom, Lori (Milena Govich), who looks as if she’s trying hard to look a little younger than she is.
They had just enjoyed their night out and Lori urges Carter to go out with her friends. She does and the group of teens break into an amusement park, turn on the rides, drink, and — what a shock — attract the attention of the police.
They’re thrown into lock-up and it’s Carter who reassures her friends that they will all go home with their parents and a warning. Sure enough, they do. But not her.
While being held, it comes to light that Carter is actually Lyndon, who was 3 when she was kidnapped from her front yard. Her biological parents arrive to claim her.
All of this is news to Carter, who does not seem to have memories of her early life.
“What struck me about the show, mostly, was that it was based around a young girl,” Prescott tells Zap2it. “The main story line was not her relationship to a man. And I know that sounds really simple. As much TV as you watch, the female characters are very linked to the male characters. This is a show that really is about a young girl and her relationship to her mother and it is not because of her relationship to a man in the show.
“I like that and it was about her going through something big, a lot really,” Prescott continues. “And the bond between her and her mother.”
Her biological mother, Elizabeth (Cynthia Watros, “Lost”) is a cop, who is ready to find the kidnapper and throttle her. Elizabeth immediately calls Carter Lyndon, the name she was given at birth.
“She is a detective and she became a detective because when one of her daughters was kidnapped at 3-years-old, and she is determined to spend the rest of her life finding her little girl.
“It shaped who she is now,” Watros continues. “She is probably more serious than she would like to be. She is a very strong, independent woman. And I think she lost the fun somewhere along the way. I think that’s what happens when something tragic like this happens. She is the glue of the family. She is the one who buys the milk, has the job and makes sure everyone is OK. She juggles a lot of things in her life.”
While Carter was living with Lori, Elizabeth and her husband, David (Alexis Denisof), reared Lyndon/Carter’s twin sister, Taylor (Anna Jacoby-Heron), and a younger son, Grant (Zac Pullam).
The dad wrote a bestseller based on his daughter’s abduction and his publicist urges him to write a sequel, about her return. The younger brother feels ignored, and the twin sister has had a very sheltered life.
Everyone lived in the shadow of the kidnapping and the one who was abducted never knew. The first indication that Carter may remember something of her former life comes when she hugs her grandfather Buddy (Robert Pine). Meredith Baxter (“Family Tues”) plays her grandmother.
Coincidentally, Prescott is a twin, and can tap that knowledge to inform her character. Though they were not inseparable growing up in England, Prescott and her twin have become closer the last few years.
“Even if we didn’t get on, there was still this thing,” she says. “You cannot lie to or pretend to someone you shared a womb with. At least with us, if I want really honest advice I would ask my sister. She is not afraid to tell the truth to me. What’s the point? There is no point in lying to me. We have been connected for 23 years.”
Carter insists on being called the name she has answered to the last 13 years. She’s already changing the family dynamic; taking Taylor to a party that does not end with a goody bag, and standing up to Elizabeth, a stance few people dare take.
Elizabeth is a hard woman; hardened by the trauma of losing her daughter, distanced from her husband and having an affair with another detective. In the pilot, Elizabeth ends the affair and vows to devote herself to making her family whole.
Elizabeth and Carter “are more alike than you would think,” Watros says.
“Inside of all of that conflict they desperately want to love each other,” she continues. “I am trying to reach out to this young woman and trying to bond with her in a way I never had to before with any of my other kids.”
Ultimately, Watros wants mother and daughter to come together and to allow their vulnerabilities to surface.
“She has this amazing love for her family and takes time to unearth it,” Watros says.