MTV’s attempt at family drama has a fascinating premise; a sixteen year old girl, Carter Stevens (Kathryn Prescott), discovers that the woman she thinks is her mother is actually her kidnapper and is forced to return to the biological family she doesn’t remember. That premise alone was enough to hook me but unfortunately the first couple of episodes didn’t quite deliver. That said, Kathryn Prescott’s Carter is a fairly likeable protagonist (if you can get past the teenagedness) and the core mystery surrounding Carter’s abduction has the potential to be fantastic watercooler TV.
Despite falling a little flat over all there was a lot to love in these episodes. The loving relationship between abductor and abductee, Carter’s struggle to figure out who she is now that he whole world has been ripped out from under her, and the effect of her return on her biological family were executed well enough for me to invest in most of the relationships. Not all of them of course. Carter’s love interests are total drips, I really wanted to punch them every time they came onto the screen. They don’t really matter though; they’re pretty much just accessories for her rebellion. The real problem is Carter’s biological parents who are basically cardboard copies of generic made-for-TV movie parents.
There is always a certain amount of stereotyping in pilot episodes because they only have a limited time span to introduce the audience to a whole new world but it’s not so much the characters that are the problem here as the story lines they have been given. Elizabeth Wilson (Cynthia Watros) is a cop that couldn’t save her own daughter and David Wilson (Alexis Denisof) is a struggling writer who’s only success came from cashing in on his daughter’s abduction (complete with tacky cynical agent). Both of them have secrets of course – but they’re not particularly interesting right now. I’m not invested in either of these characters and for this show to work I really need to be. It’s like the pulled out a bottle of cliches and dumped them over the script.
Also there were so many plots opened in these episodes that I’m not entirely sure where to look. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the fact that this show jumped right into the action. It helped the audience empathize with Carter’s state of mind. There was no time to process and that worked in this instance. You’d think with such an awesome premise that there would be all kinds of plot twists and shocking reveals, but everything was alarmingly predictable, which isn’t always a bad thing but it really doesn’t work in this instance.
Kathryn Prescott carried these episodes from start to finish. She was amazing and even when I thought Carter was being an obnoxious brat I still felt her pain as if it was my own. The scenes with her younger brother Grant (Zac Pullam) were particularly moving even though he falls into the annoyingly wise child trope that I usually hate. If the desperation for answers weren’t enough to get me to come back then this sibling relationship would. Still not entirely sold on the good twin/bad twin thing but I liked Taylor (Anna Jacoby-Heron) a lot more than I did the parents.
So what’s the verdict? Well, I’ll definitely be tuning in next week but I’m going to be looking for something special to get me to completely invest in this show. There are only so many hours in the day and I have to cull my watch list somehow. But I’m holding out hope that Finding Carter has something up its sleeve in the next couple of weeks that will convince me to keep watching.
Author: Undie Girl
Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.
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