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Life Unexpected follows Lux, a 15-going-on-16 girl with a problem. Given up for adoption as a baby, Lux has spent her entire life in foster care after she was diagnosed with a heart condition requiring surgery, making couples unwilling to adopt her. Tired of being bounced from one foster home to the next, Lux decides to seek out her birth parents in order to get the signatures she needs to obtain emancipation.

Her search leads her to Nate "Baze" Bazile, a former high school football star who now runs a bar with his buddies. He is stunned to learn he has a daughter after a one-night stand in high school, and reveals to Lux that her mother is Cate Cassidy, a local radio personality who Lux has listened to all her life. Cate is saddened when she meets Lux and learns she was never adopted. Both Baze and Cate give their signatures for the emancipation process.

However, Lux is denied emancipation by a judge, who decides to grant temporary joint custody to Baze and Cate, with Cate being the primary caregiver. All her life, Lux has never had parents, but now she has three-- Baze, Cate, and Cate's fiance and co-host Ryan. And now it's up to all of them to somehow form a family.

Tropes used:

  • Actor Allusion: In one episode, when Emma is talking about Cate, she says "...looks like that chick from Roswell."
  • Barack Obama: Ryan has a bobblehead Obama on his desk.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Cate and Baze.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Lux. An adult version is Paige, Ryan's sister.
  • Downer Ending: Should the series not get a Season 2, the finale will be one of these for the whole series. Baze realizes he has to tell Cate he loves her and must stop her wedding to do so. Caught in a traffic jam on his way to the church, he arrives just after "I now pronounce you man and wife". Everyone turns, stunned, as he walks through the doors... and Cate kisses Ryan as Baze stands bewildered.
    • Averted since there will be a Season 2.
      • Averted as a downer ending to the whole series, yes. As a season finale? It's still a downer ending, at least for Baze.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Cate states in the pilot that she never even considered keeping Lux, but that didn't extend so far as her seeking an abortion.
  • Happily Adopted: Inverted. Lux, who, as a Caucasian, American baby, would normally be very desirable for couples looking to adopt, was instead overlooked due to her heart defect.
    • Used, finally, in the season finale, "Love Unexpected", as Cate and Baze's parental rights are reinstated and Lux is adopted as their child.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is called noun verbing: e.g. 'Home Inspected', 'Formal Reformed', 'Bong Intercepted'...
  • Idiot Ball: One is handed to a main character about every other episode in order to drop an Aesop about family relationships.
    • Cate's lie to Ryan about sleeping with Baze which only managed to make things worse for everyone. Thanks a bunch, Catie...
      • For bonus points, she does this just minutes after she tells Lux to be honest with her boyfriend.
    • Lux's plan and reaction in "Crisis Unaverted" when Cate says she won't take in Tasha so she won't have to go to a foster home three hours away. Lux pulled the "I never asked you for anything!" gambit and asked at the worse possible time for Cate, not even considering that, y'know, Cate has problems of her own and can't exactly handle taking in another kid. Her blaming Cate made her come off like a selfish bitch.
    • Baze picks one up when he suddenly decides to interfere with Lux's romantic life.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Cate, on her first day as a producer of the show she formerly starred in, ends up speaking her mind about how she feels about the new co-host on air because she has eaten Paige's banana-and-pot bread.
  • Is This Thing On?: Cate presses the ON button for the microphone while in the producer booth and high on Banana-and-Pot bread.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Baze.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In 'Crisis Unaverted' Cate and Ryan's boss says that her situation 'is so Days of Our Lives. At midday I should tune in to you.'
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Lux to Baze in the pilot. He'd known Cate was pregnant, but assumed she'd had an abortion.
  • Meaningful Name: In episode two, Lux gives Cate some insight on her name's origin and meaning. A nurse gave it to Lux because of the sheer rarity of a light blonde being born to two dark haired parents. Going hand-in-hand with its origin, Lux's name's literal meaning is "light".
  • Only Sane Man: Baze's friend Math is one of the wiser, more sensible people in the show. He tends to have his act together much more frequently than everyone else does.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: 'Beautiful Tree' by Rain Perry
  • Right Behind Me: In almost every episode, one character X will say something about character Y, and in general, it's usually something X doesn't want Y to hear. Cue character Y being right behind character X as it is said.
  • Teen Pregnancy: As part of the backstory, obviously. Cate and Baze had a one-night stand in high school and Lux is the product of it.
  • The Danza: Emma Bradshaw is played by Emma Caulfield.
  • Tsundere: Cate.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Baze is looking like he could be one of these. His father owns the building Baze has made his bar, but his father instead chides him for not paying the rent, which causes Lux to empty her savings and sell a gift Baze gave her in order to help him. She confronts his father about the way he treats Baze, as well.
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