Episode Air Date: July 15th, 22nd, 29th, August 5th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Finding Carter (Drive, Now You See Me, The Heat, The Fugitive)
Starring: Kathryn Prescott, Cynthia Watros, Anna Jacoby-Heron, Alexis Denisof, Zac Pullam, Milena Govich
It’s been 3 weeks since I last wrote a review on Finding Carter, and in that time, a lot has happened. Since watching the pilot of what I reckon is one of the most enjoyable series I’ve watched since shows like The Fosters, Orphan Black and The Blacklist in 2013; Finding Carter has delved into the issues head-on, as what I reckon any show should do if they have a premise like this MTV drama. Presenting a show where the main plotline comes from the revelation that the main titular character’s ‘mother’ that she has known her whole life is in fact her kidnapper can in fact seem hard to pull off, yet Finding Carter manages to balance the comedy and drama in the show pretty well.
While at times during the four episodes it could feel like I’m watching an episode of One Tree Hill with all the relationship dramas between the high school kids (which is not necessarily a bad thing- in fact, OTH is possibly my favourite drama of all time), Finding Carter manages to have its own identity, bringing to life and to the fore issues atypical of a teen, yet nevertheless issues that need to be discussed in a world where abductions aren’t necessarily discussed about in TV. A taboo subject for many, kidnappings, abductions, and the aftermath of them are rarely delved into in family drama shows, yet this gritty MTV drama seems to turn the concept of family on its head. Right from the pilot episode, we see actress Kathryn Prescott display emotion fitting of a character dealing with the worst news ever, and then reacting in a way that could seem untoward to many- wanting to stay with her kidnapper instead of a welcome home celebration to meet her ‘real’ family. Clearly one of the actors/actresses that steals the show and brings it to another level quality-wise, Finding Carter continues to ask difficult questions in episodes 3-6.
Since we last discussed Finding Carter on July 9th, we saw Carter recovering in hospital after overdosing on pills, and discovering that it was her little brother Grant who hid Carter’s emergency escape backpack because he didn’t want her to leave (it is a massive spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen episodes 1 and 2, but if you’re here reading this review, then I guess you, as much as myself, are a fan of this unique MTV show!). Fast-forward a few weeks and what you can think has happened to Carter has probably happened. A new character Crash was introduced in episode 3, and was immediately shown to be someone who would be great for Carter to be with in order to antagonise and irk Elizabeth.
From teaching her little brother to roll a joint at a party, to stealing a car for a joy ride, actor Caleb Rumier has done a fantastic job portraying a boy who, while on the surface can seem like someone who’d you dismiss as being a ‘problem child’, is actually one of the most intriguing and interesting characters on the show. While I felt Crash the character was at times acting out because he could (and thus creating drama that was otherwise unnecessary), Caleb did a great job portraying him, and just like Kathryn, continue to present the show with much interest, intrigue and colour as we see possibly one of the most complex girl-boy relationships since Lucas/Peyton or Lucas/Brooke in the 9 year CW show.
Another standout performance from the 4 episodes was Milena Govich, the actress responsible for giving us the character of Lori, none other than the kidnapper whom Elizabeth wants to hunt down and lock up. While still a recurring character (I reckon Milena’s status in the casting will change in the next few episodes), Milena gives a great portrayal of a person who longs to have her daughter back, even if she isn’t hers by blood. With crazy eyes and on a mission, Lori tells Max in the middle of episode 4, and again towards the end of episode 5, of her plan to steal away Carter so that they can be together again. While I might have felt some sympathy towards Lori within the first few episodes, ending episode 6 with a reunion between Carter and Lori, and Lori revealing to her pseudo-daughter her intricate plans to run away and never see her other family again, makes me admire the actress’s ability to change from portraying a sweet, loving woman in the pilot, to that of one where you wouldn’t really want Carter to be around at the end of this week’s episode. Kudos goes to Milena for doing a great job.
From plotlines like a feud between Carter and her friend Bird because of revealing and disturbing photos, to the growing attraction between Carter’s sister Taylor, and Carter’s ex, Max, and the reveal by Crash to Carter of his own involvement and sense of responsibility of his younger brother’s reckless and sudden death; Finding Carter brings issues that are real, and while some may seem trivial (like the fight, or even the constant worry about the boy girl relationships Carter and Taylor have), they nevertheless shape the teen in society today. As much as it is a drama about the aftermath of a kidnapping, it is also a typical teen drama as well, and with the added layer of how to deal with a drastic event such as a realisation like Carter’s; this MTV show adds another layer to it, just like similar shows like Switched at Birth (a story about the discovery that two teenage girls have that they were switched at birth with each other’s families), and The Fosters (a teen drama revolving around a family with lesbian parents). Why it is not on ABC Family, I have no idea.
While I won’t spoil every storyline within these last 4 episodes, I will say this- Finding Carter is about to become intriguing. Will Carter stay with her new found family, the one that she has grown to be fond of (aside from Elizabeth, her birth mother)? Will she leave without a goodbye, or even a resolution in whether she would even see her sister, brother, father and friends again? Like I said before, each episode that passes makes me much more excited for the next one. Will the show survive at 10pm on Tuesdays? Maybe. Even though viewers have steadily decreased, the show hasn’t deviated with its quality, and thus, if MTV want their TV brand to become much more than a music videos channel, ought to be bold and renew this television show ASAP. Personally, I reckon this shows a hit, but knowing my love of shows like One Tree Hill, The Fosters and Switched at Birth, maybe I just enjoy teen dramas much more than the next person.
Has Finding Carter continued to impress you with the 4 episodes after the double episode pilot? What do you hope will happen to Carter and her two families- her ‘real’ one and the bond she has made with Lori? Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Parenthood, The Fosters, Switched at Birth, One Tree Hill
Rating: 4/5 (based on 6 episodes)
Finding Carter airs every Tuesday at 10/9c on MTV.