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Finding Carter Needs A New Home


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It’s a nature versus nurture example for the ages. A young girl is told the mother she knows and loves is actually her kidnapper. Upon returning to what is her biological family, which includes a mother, father, twin sister and a younger brother, the girl has trouble adapting because she was happy with her former situation. Does biological loyalty overtake emotional familiarity?

This is the premise for MTV’s new show Finding Carter. Carter (Kathryn Prescott, who looks a bit like Arya Stark in seven years) is abruptly informed of the false life she had been living. The mother she had known abducted her thirteen years prior and now, her biological mother, Elizabeth Wilson (Cynthia Watros from Titus and The Drew Carey Show), brings the teenager home.

The Wilsons believe Carter’s return will complete their family, but in actuality the return magnifies the family’s issues. A marriage at its breaking point leads to an ignored, neglected youngest child whose first moments speaking involves a sarcastic quip about being the replacement child. All of this spurred on by a sputtering writing career for the husband. This seemingly ecstatic family is brimming with tension, contempt and fear that Carter will disappear again.

Finding Carter’s opening two episodes shed light on possibilities you might not expect. If the abducted child truly loved the new parent because she couldn’t remember life beforehand, how does the biological mother connect? Since Carter did not have a father figure most of her childhood, her relationship with David (Alexis Denisof, or Sandy Rivers from How I Met Your Mother) comes easier. Granted, Elizabeth’s mental and emotional fragility, coupled with years of experience as a detective, makes her overly protective and cautious with Carter.

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Despite the dramatic premise and a new way of introducing teenage angst, Finding Carter has its humorous moments—most of which come through the son, Grant (Zac Pullam). He may be twelve years of age, but Pullam’s comedic timing and sarcasm is spot on. He even delves into Grant’s character a little better than you’d expect.

That being said, when it comes down to it, Finding Carter is an MTV show, and with that comes MTV-level writing and melodrama—much in the way the CW has CW-ed the hell out of what was an excellent show with Arrow. Love triangles are in our future, folks. Carter’s arrival upsets the tenuous balance of hormonal power at her new high school, particularly with her goodie-two-shoes sister, Taylor (Anna Jacoby-Heron). Fear not, though. The adults get in on the action through Elizabeth’s secret affair with her colleague and the father of Taylor’s crush. The scenes from future episodes place extra emphasis on this aspect of the show, which is very unfortunate considering the vast potential for moral and emotional exploration set in the opening episodes.

On a different channel, Finding Carter has the strength to turn into something brilliant, or at least modestly thought provoking. The family dynamic is one that could be investigated further with intriguing results. We’ll have to wait and see, but the rest of the season looks angry and irrational.

Finding Carter airs Tuesdays at 10pm.

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