A show about two unlikely parents whose 16-year-old child enters their lives, Life Unexpected stars Shiri Appleby as Cate and Kristoffer Polaha as Baze, opposites who hooked up at the high school prom and subsequently produced a child. After giving her daughter up for adoption, Cate went on to become a successful radio host whose life with boyfriend Ryan (Kerr Smith) was rocked when said child, Lux (Britt Robertson), re-entered her life.
On Tuesday's episode, while two major relationship arcs come to a close, by the end of the two hours, the show focuses on what's at its heart — a story about family.
Tigelaar spoke to TVGuide.com about the show and how it's evolved in ways she couldn't have predicted.
Will Lux's prior abuse affect her relationship with boyfriend (and teacher) Eric in the finale?
Liz Tigelaar: The good he brought in her life has been so significant in that he helped her, he's been there for her, he's been a sounding board, he got her to be honest about her past that she's been very ashamed of, but he couldn't help but be affected by the truth that this child was hugely violated by an older man. I think that he would be inhuman if that information didn't necessarily change his feelings or alter his actions. [Tuesday's episode] really tells a story of this guy grappling with loving this girl and how that love should manifest itself.
Lux learned Emma has a history with Baze's dad. Is that the end of Baze and Emma's relationship?
Tigelaar: I don't think you can hear from your kid that your girlfriend's had sex with your dad — only on TV can you work through that. I think what's interesting about the story is that it's a competition between father and son and who Baze's dad really is and the fact that Baze's dad has been so hard on Baze for the man that he's been. Baze's arc of the series is to learn to be his own man so regardless of what happens with his relationship with Emma, Emma was a catalyst to make Baze a better man — that's the heart of this story. [But] Baze and Emma are going to have some stuff to overcome and they won't necessarily be able to.
Are you surprised that Baze became the most popular character on the show?
Tigelaar: I'm not surprised because Kris Polaha is such an endearing, charming person, let alone actor. Baze was always conceived to be more of a douche bag and I think that Kris is just not a douchy guy. We always wanted to tell a story about a guy much less comfortable being a dad and I think what Kris brought to the pilot and because he's a dad, is an affection for Lux. There was no way that was going to be contained, that would be like sucking out of the essence of who he is. People want what Baze wants for whatever reason so we always talk about him as an actor being really committed to whatever Baze wants within the episode and within the series. Emma is a little different because people are very torn. Ultimately people want Cate and Baze together, but I think that people enjoy seeing Baze grow up and Emma has helped Baze grow in a way that Cate couldn't.
Did your plans for the finale change at all once the back-nine weren't picked up?
Tigelaar: Definitely. At first we thought we don't have time to change it, we have to do a total overhaul and this is not an episode we would end the series on. Then we sat around, got a bunch of alcohol, and talked about the things that we were longing to see, not as writers, but as fans. We talked a lot about whether it was a romantic love triangle series or a family series and ultimately we did say this is a story about a family. It's about Baze, Cate and Lux before it's about Cate, Baze and Ryan. ... Even though there are so many more stories I would've liked to tell, and if they want us to keep going we'll figure it out, but it'll be really satisfying for people to watch.
The finale of Life Unexpected airs Tuesday at 8/7c on CW.