Whenever a new show premieres, audiences tend to pick out the couple that's meant to be together. On Life Unexpected, it's easy to choose Cate (Shiri Appleby) and Baze (Kristoffer Polaha) as soul mates because they have a child together, but executive producer Liz Tigelaar doesn't quite agree. Tigelaar discussed the story behind the new CW series, what's next for the relationships on Life, and what we'll learn about Lux (Brittany Robertson).
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TVGuide.com: You drew inspiration for Life Unexpected from your own life.
Liz Tigelaar: Whenever I try to write something new, I never want to try to write something about me. I think a lot of people do that and try to tell their story. This project comes from something I'm always thinking about as a kid who is adopted: "Are there people out there like me? Where did I come from? Who is my birth family?"
The main thing is this fantasy that a lot of adoptive kids have When you're just born into a family, sometimes you joke that you wish you were adopted, but you know these are the people you came from. When you're adopted, you think that there all these people that could be your family and create this fantasy. The inspiration for the pilot came from that idea of having a fantasy of who the mother is and then realizing that the fantasy doesn't match the reality.
TVGuide.com: What other inspirations did you pull from that we'll discover throughout the series?
Tigelaar: The idea of exploring thirtysomethings today. I feel like our generation is more like women who prioritize careers over relationships and guys who still look like frat boys and play video games and drink Miller Lite. The underlying thing is the search for family and people you belong to. It's one thing to be adopted and feel that initial rejection in your life, but you know how badly you were wanted by other people. If you remove being wanted so badly by other people, how does that rejection impact your life?
Read our Life Unexpected pilot recap
TVGuide.com: Will we learn more about Lux's background?
Tigelaar: Yeah. I would love to explore the reality of this kid in foster care, but I don't know if we're ever going to be able to truly get into the darkness and sadness of it in a recurring way. But we're filming a flashback of little Lux and little Tasha [Ksenia Solo] at Sunnyvale, the girl's home they met at. We show her a little before she comes to Cate and Baze. We have some of Tasha's past coming into it and there will be other people — if there are more seasons — from Lux's past that will affect her present. We won't do a ton of flashbacks, but I've always wanted to do episodes about finding out who her other foster parents were and who she might have been attached to and let down by.
TVGuide.com: Cate and Baze did sleep together in the pilot. Will that come back to haunt them later in the season?
Tigelaar: Obviously when something big happens like that in the pilot, with two characters carrying a significant secret, you're waiting for it to come out. That will definitely happen, and as most secrets do, they come out at an inopportune time. In terms of Cate and Baze's relationship, these are two people who have to really reconcile what their feelings are about each other. Because of TV, we're trained to think that Cate and Baze belong together. But there's a good question in there: "Really? You're the soul mate of the guy who knocked you up in high school in the back of a minivan? Really?" Logic says that's ridiculous.
TVGuide.com: How will this affect Cate and Ryan's relationship?
Tigelaar: Ryan [Kerr Smith] is the perfect guy; he's a real man. He sees the world broadly, and he's not a selfish man. He's a very heroic character. Both Cate and Baze haven't grown up. Ryan and Lux are the grownups. [It's] interesting to explore what [love is] and how Cate rationalizes what she did with Baze in sleeping with him. Does that mean she's in love with him? What is it that he stirs up inside of her that can't make her let the past go? We'll explore how much of that has to do with Baze and how much that has to do with something else.
Check out photos from Life Unexpected
TVGuide.com: What is the overall arc of the series?
Tigelaar: The arc of the series, in terms of Cate and Baze's feelings, is both of them having to understand what their dynamic is and what their feelings really are for each other. We've just written the finale and it definitely comes to a head.
TVGuide.com: What is your one line pitch for fans to continue tuning in?
Tigelaar: I would just say that if they want to watch a family show that has humor and heart, I just think this is it. I'm trying to write in the vein of shows that I admire and I would say My So-Called Life, Friday Night Lights and American Dreams are the shows that, to me, make me feel something. If people want to watch a show that will hopefully make them feel something, I hope they will tune in. It's a total coming-of-age story; it's just the grown-ups that have to come of age.