Pretty Sure CW Is Gonna Give Viewers Early Parole #LifeSentence #CW #3weekroundup #recap #review
All pictures courtesy of the CW
Let me start by spoiling the review section and saying that I don't find this show dreadful like I did Krypton, I just can already read the wall's ample writings. This show was moved from its original premiere day of Wednesday to Fridays and hasn't done any better than that other godawful show My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and that show doesn't even pull in a million viewers a week. It is possible that it could be outright canceled and yanked from air, which rarely ever happens to CW shows (again, see Crazy Ex). Still, I didn't think it was that terrible, it just wasn't what viewers are looking for. So, is Life Sentence living its best life or is it in desperate need of being put on support. Ay yay yay, that was a bad one. Let's find out together!
Life Sentence stars Lucy Hale as Stella Abbott, a young woman who, at the age of 15, was diagnosed with cancer. Ever since then (I think it's been eight or nine years) her family has worked tirelessly to make sure that she could have the best last days of her life ever. Her sister brought the party to her when she missed out on parties. Her brother (both siblings are older, by the way) tried to teach her everything cool he knew and dared her to live an adventurous life. Her parents cared for her even through her constant trips in and out of the hospital and lobbied for her to get into a potentially life-saving clinical trial. But she was still missing out on that one great thing: true love. So her college professor father decided to send his youngest daughter on a life-changing trip to Paris, the city of love, in order to go on that one last great adventure and maybe fall in love. And she does. She finds a great guy (black English bloke) who falls for her in a moment straight out of a Hugh Grant movie, and marries her within a couple weeks of meeting her because she supposedly only has six to eight months to live. I know that was a heck of an info-dump but don't worry because Stella does the same thing at the beginning of the first episode to get you caught up so that you can be just as shocked as she is when she goes to her doctor and finds out:
She's cured! Yay! The clinical trial worked for her, which means that her funeral that she and her husband were planning must go on hold for a long time. And though she tells her family at the strange pre-death wake she wanted to have, and they celebrate appropriately, things change for the worse almost immediately. Now that she is no longer sick she can learn who her family really is and no more be deceived by their work to make her happy.
|The Family with Stella at center.|
As it turns out, while she lived the dream rom-com life that would ultimately end in her untimely death, her family was falling apart. Starting with her brother Aiden, we learn that he is a 27-year-old burnout who dropped out of college, has no job, lives at home and uses his sister's cancer to guilt-trip soccer moms into having sex with him. Things get crazy when the latest soccer mom he's banging (the one he brought to Stella's faux-wake) is actually married to a very big dude who threatens to kill him. He runs around most of the episode trying to avoid being pummeled to death by this distraught husband.
We jump to her older sister Elizabeth who seems to be the responsible one who can keep things together through the chaos. But we learn that the career-driven woman partially resents getting married to Diego and having two children so early in life, something she only did to make sure her parents had something happy to focus on. Also, because she was such a responsible one, she gave up her dream of being a writer, and a scholarship to a prestigious college, in order to stay home and help take care of Stella and make sure their mom didn't lose it.
Speaking of her mother Ida (played by veteran actress Gillian Vigman; she's been in a ton of stuff), she seems to be having the hardest time and is adopting an almost completely new second life. Apparently she's been having an affair with Stella's godMOTHER for a few years and announces that she's coming out as a “Bi” (bisexual) at a family dinner party, but only after Stella finds her mother and godmother sitting on the porch of her godmother's house making out (Stella came to talk with her mom after learning that Ida was leaving her husband and had already moved out the next day after Stella's announcement).
|Stella and Paul|
Finally, there is her husband Wes who doesn't know if he can continue the charade he started to live when he first met her. Almost half of the stuff they do together he hates to do, including having her fall asleep in his arms every night, having sex by candlelight literally every time they do it, eating boiled eggs and a bunch of other stuff. He was attending a grief counseling group for spouses of terminally ill people until they kicked him out after hearing his story of woe that his wife is going to live far beyond the six months she was given to live when he first married her. Basically, Stella got the best news of her life—that she would even have a life—and then that said life immediately went to crap.
So, as she learns all of the secrets her family is keeping from her, she also must plan a celebration party for her doctor who cured her just to tell her thank you. Basically she does that while telling everyone throughout the episode that these problems they have can be fixed, and even does a big speech on that very subject. But the speech goes terribly and her sister once again points out that most of the family's problems stem from her having cancer and them trying to create the happiest, safest environment for her to live in, in order to foster a recovery. Still, all is not lost because she has now committed to change each one of her family members' lives so that they have a great one just like she did, in a huge pay-it-forward kind of thing.
We end the first episode with her talking to a sick kid and realizing that even though life is tough, it's not the end of the world so long as you have people who care about you. She, for the first time, has sex without the candles, tries to setup her brother with her doctor only to learn that he has already impregnated that married woman, gets her mother to tell her dad the truth about her sexuality, gets her dad to realize that he needs to sell the house to pay his debt, and tells her sister that she will start babysitting the kids more so that she can finally start on that book she's been meaning to write.
Episode two is the classic example of the best laid plans of mice and men. Paul puts the house on the market but can't part with it when a couple low-balls him and wants all the furniture inside. This drives Ida into a crazed tizzy, and she wants to tear down the walls (bangs a huge hole in one of them) and dig a pool as part of the upgrades her husband wants to make before selling it. It's an overreaction even when you discover her reason for overreacting is because while Stella could remember all of her best memories in the house she grew up in, her mother can only remember the house as the place where her daughter got sick and her love story fell apart. Forget the fact that it's also the place where you learned that your daughter was cured from a cancer you thought would kill her, where you learned of the news that you had grandkids and where you learned that you were actually more into women than your husband. Her complaints about the house feel more like a jilted soon-to-be ex-wife craving for money. If she didn't want to have to see the house anymore, she could've opted not to come around until the house was sold. And when her husband offers to instead rent out a few rooms in the home which would give him enough time to make renovations and updates that could raise the price, she flips out and bangs a hole in the wall. And there I started to wonder why she would lower the buying price if she wanted the damn house sold so much. It didn't make logical sense.
|Stella Talking To Another Sick Kid|
Meanwhile, Elizabeth has lost her writing moji on account of not having done it in so long. She is easily distracted by Stella's bad parenting/babysitting skills which result in her daughter (Stella's niece) swallowing Stella's ring. Surprisingly, she's on the show so little in the first three episodes that it made me wonder if the actress had double-booked another TV series or film. But she is around long enough to team with Stella to try to get their brother to take some responsibility.
Yes, Aiden's now got a baby mama, but if the rest of his life is any indication, he's gonna not be responsible about that, too. In fact, he tries avoiding the woman completely, shutting the doors of his guest house and hiding out from the still-married woman, while also banging out every girl he meets. He says he'll change but that's going to take some time. His father gets tough on him, and they have a little heart to heart about how he knows his son is a smart kid, but just doesn't apply himself. Aiden's deal is that once he discovered that he was going to lose the person he loved the most in his life, his baby sister, he decided to never love or really care about much of anything anymore. But Stella convinces him that he can be a great dad if he just tries and stops selling pills to housewives. Stella also gets her sister into a writer's retreat, starts volunteering at the hospital that treated her and commits to listening more to her husband.
|Stella and hubby Wes|
But as she is trying to learn everything that she didn't know about her husband, which is everything, she decides to try to get the young cancer patient girl she was talking to at the hospital into the same clinical trial that she was in. Bad news, she lies to keep the girl's spirits up when she learns that the rich guy who was sponsoring the trial pulled his funding. So she, along with a hottie doctor, scheme to visit the rich guy at one of his hotel's restaurants to beg him for the funding or at least figure out why he pulled the funding. As it turns out, she talks to the guy after mistaking him for the bartender, and learns that he pulled the funding because she was the only survivor and that the FDA couldn't support the trial procedures any longer. So she must go back and tell the girl that she lied about getting her into that particular trial, but says that they will try to get her into a dozen other trials.
Her nighttime adventure to the restaurant leaves Wes at home to babysit Elizabeth's kids while she is at the writer's retreat and her husband is taking off work to go visit her. But when the niece gets sick, he calls Ida to come and help, only to learn that she doesn't do well with sick kids and overreacts to everything. Hello! She had a sick child that was probably suspected of having a stomach ache and ended up having cancer. She basically says what I just typed, and they have a come-to-Jesus moment with each other.
|Stella and brother Aiden|
Back at the restaurant, Stella happens to run into her loser brother and equally-loser father on a father-son night out. On Stella's request, Aiden decided to get their father out of the house because all he could do was look in at the new owners all day. Oh yeah, they sold the house but made a deal that allowed for Stella's father and brother to continue to live in the guest house. Now Paul lives with his rather disgusting son, who he hasn't hung out with in forever. Aiden thinks they should go and chase tail at the local hotel bar. His dad isn't that interested in it, but after a few very strange encounters, including a woman who had serious daddy issues, he finds a woman also going through a divorce and they vibe. They go back and have some meaningless sex only for Aiden to come home later and run into the woman. Yep, he's slept with her. Slightly older women seem to be his thing.
The night ends with that hottie doctor telling Stella that he wishes he had met her seven months ago (she got married six months ago). This show is the epitome of “life comes at you fast.”
What's my grade? I give it a solid C+. The problem with this show is that it is neither wholly dissatisfying nor satisfying. It's very middle-of-the-road. Yet, it kind of feels like this show could've been so much better if put into the hands of the producers of either Grey's Anatomy or This Is Us. It is a pseudo-sweet show that doesn't quite push far enough to get to the emotional peaks you might want it to, nor does it sink to the level of funny you want it to either. It feels like a nondescript CW show or one that doesn't have a hook to it. I know that it does have a hook, but it doesn't feel like it does. It's hard to explain it because it's all so vanilla. Ultimately, the show is about figuring out how to live life once you've been given a second chance at it and everything you thought you knew about living it the first time is terribly wrong. It is similar in tone to last year's No Tomorrow which I actually loved. (Goodness, I don't know what it is about CW but between this show and that show, these lighthearted comedies have made me fall in love with their respective female stars--Lucy Hale here and Tori Anderson off No Tomorrow). This show is OK, but I don't think it is better than that show. In fact, I would prefer to watch that show again than to watch this. Frankly, I absolutely hate the mother. I have seen the actress in so many roles before and this is, by far, the one I hate the most. She's an annoying, over-reactive, boring character that I really don't care about. And I would've loved if her character magically disappeared for multiple episodes at a time rather than the sister.
Should you be watching? It's a decent show but it premiered in the literal middle of March (like March 14th; the exact middle) when there're tons of other shows that are more heartwarming and better written. But these characters are easy to relate to and the acting is on point. I'd say check out at least one episode before this gets canceled. Life Sentence next airs on April 27th, CW Fridays at 9pm.
What do you think? Have you heard of Life Sentence? If you haven't, do you think you'll check it out now? If you have heard of it, have you seen it? What do you think? Should this show really be facing the axe so soon in its life? And with the CW expanding to six days of programming next season (now they'll be showing stuff on Sundays, should this earn a shortened season order? Let me know in the comments below.
Check out my 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER, #BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 4 coming summer 2018. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary on Amazon. Season 2 of that coming real soon. And look for the mystery novels The Knowledge of Fear #KnowFear and The Man on the Roof #TMOTR coming this fall/winter. Twisty novels as good as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you won’t want to miss them. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.
Until next time, “Oh my god! This discovery... could change life as we know it.”
'Dude, I totally loved that show.'
“By show you mean movie, right?”
'Wait, aren't we talking about the show currently known as 3rd Rock From the Sun?'
P.S. Yeah, I just hit you with a little TV history that is super-easy to learn if you do just one IMDb data search. I hate when shows that could do fairly well aren't given time to find an audience while shows that clearly should've been canceled (lookin' at you Crazy Ex) have somehow remained on TV to suck resources and opportunities for better programming. Oh well! I'll try to think of a better sign-off next time.
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