Although she may not look like your average on-screen mom, Life Unexpected's Shiri Appleby says the role of Cate is exactly what she had been looking for. Mostly known as Liz from the WB series Roswell, Appleby told TVGuide.com she's glad to be back on the network where she got her start, and on a show that's "about people being there for one another."
TVGuide.com: What was your reaction when you got called in for a role as a mother?
Shiri Appleby: I couldn't imagine that I was what they'd be looking for. This character is going through so many of the same issues that I and my friends are going through [that] the idea of it being a mother was a non-issue. I've been wanting to tell a story about people being there for each other and caring about one another, learning to grow up.
TVGuide.com: How will Cate and Baze sleeping together in the premiere episode play out?
Appleby: It definitely has to come out at some point and she tries really hard to figure out the right time and what it means exactly. She's got such an interesting triangle on her hands. Does she choose the guy that's calm and stable and sort of the voice of reason? And with the other one, the question is, is it possible to find your soul mate and do you really find him at winter formal having sex in the back of a minivan? I think the whole season she struggles.
TVGuide.com: In real life, are you more drawn to the Baze or Ryan type?
Appleby: I like a combination of both. Nice guy with some edge.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about Monday's episode and the big family gathering.
Appleby: We meet Cate's mom and sister and they are definitely opposites to Baze's family. I would say that for the most part the parents are not too thrilled with this new situation and what that means. It takes a lot of adjusting on everyone's behalf.
TVGuide.com: In meeting her family, will we learn more about why Cate is the way she is?
Appleby: Absolutely. You realize that she comes from a broken home times five. Later in the season we meet my father (Peter Horton), my mom's (Cynthia Stevenson) been married five times, my sister and I have this weird competitive thing, and as the season goes on you realize that Cate just totally shut down the day that she had to give Lux up for adoption.
TVGuide.com: In this episode, Lux also encounters some "mean girls." What clique were you in?
Appleby: I was not part of the mean girls, but we had a lot of friends. I was a cheerleader one year, I was on leadership, I was on yearbook — I loved high school.
TVGuide.com: Can you relate to Cate at all?
Appleby: Totally. I think the idea of deciding to trust someone and make yourself open is a very scary, nerve-wracking decision and who do you choose to spend your life with? Those are big questions.
TVGuide.com: What can we expect as the season progresses?
Appleby: Lux has a lot of anger toward Cate that she led the life that she did, and Cate feels a lot of guilt and remorse about that, so they go through a whole roller coaster of emotions about that together.
TVGuide.com: And if you return for a second season, what would you like to see?
Appleby: I hope that she and Ryan can really build a life together and I'm not necessarily sure how that will all work out. I think Cate has to resolve or deal with the fact that she does have feelings for Baze as well and you hope that Lux and Cate can work through a lot of the issues that they have. We don't wrap up all of the issues between the two of them in one season so hopefully have a chance to work through more of that.
TVGuide.com: Do you think the fact that you and Kerr Smith starred in old-school WB hit shows gives your show a nostalgic quality?
Appleby: I think so. It seems to be something people bring up a lot. I loved watching Felicity, I loved watching Dawson's Creek. I still love those actors, so if I see them in anything I'm prone to wanting to watch it because I grew up watching them. Hopefully we're having the same sort of reaction for other people.
TVGuide.com: Both Dawson's and Roswell had long opening titles with songs that became hits. Do you miss that about most shows today?
Appleby: Ours started last week. We were all like, "We want opening titles!" so they made a great opening title sequence for us with a great song, so it feels very much in the vein of those old shows.
TVGuide.com: So far all of the episode titles have rhymed with "unexpected." Won't they run out of words that end in "ted?"
Appleby: I know, I'm like, how are they going to keep up with it? All season long it's stuck with that. If we get lucky enough to get a second season we'll see what they do.