What would you do if life gave you another chance? The CW’s newest dramedy, Life Sentence, starring Pretty Little Liars alum, Lucy Hale looks to explore just that.
Synopsis: Stella learns that the cancer she thought would kill her has been cured, forcing her to face the consequences of her “live in the moment” decisions. She is also shocked to discover that her family hid their problems from her. Her parents have fallen out of love; her sister gave up her dreams of starting a family to care for her; and her brothers deals Adderall to soccer moms. (TVGuide)
Writers: Richard Keith & Erin Cardillo
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Running Time: 45mins
Stella (Lucy Hale), has been dealing with terminal cancer for the last eight years of her life. However, thanks to a trial medication, she learns she is officially cancer-free. Great news, right? Well, sort of.
The Life Sentence pilot introduces us to Stella’s journey as she deals with what she believes to be the last eight months of her life and then the events that take place once she finds out she is cancer-free. The pilot was light-hearted and while at first glance the story appears to be emotionally heavy, Life Sentence isn’t afraid to be light-hearted. The beginning of the episode is Stella narrating how her life has been over the last eight years. She talks about her cancer diagnosis, being treated, and always living life on the edge since so little of it was left. Believing she has a short amount of time left, Stella embraces a YOLO lifestyle and heads off to Europe where she meets Wes (Elliot Knight). She always dreamt of falling in love in Paris, and she did just that.
Wes and Stella go 0 to 60 in a very short period of time and decide to get married, knowing Stella’s life has an end date. However, one day a visit to the doctor reveals that the experimental therapy she was given has worked and she is now cancer-free. This changes the tone of the pilot and the story goes from heart-breaking to comedic to surprising. The news of Stella’s health brings with it a string of revelations that catches Stella off-guard. In an effort to protect and care for her, her family has made many sacrifices, unbeknownst to her.
For starters, Stella’s parents, Ida (Gillian Vigman) and Peter (Dylan Walsh) are no longer together following the financial drain and strain Stella’s lifestyle/illness has had on them. Not to mention, Ida has had a change of heart and is with a woman now while Peter is just trying to keep it together. Stella’s brother, Aiden (Jayson Blair), has his own share of problems and focused his energy on multiple relationships to forget Stella was on her deathbed. Stella’s sister, Elizabeth (Brooke Lyons) gave up her career to help out with Stella and even had children earlier than planned with her husband. And then there’s Wes. Wes’s primary goal has been to make Stella happy, even if it means foregoing who he truly is. This presents a problem for Stella who realizes she may not love Wes for who he really is. Not to mention, the guilt of her family’s sacrifices weighs heavily on her.
While everything her family and Wes did was to keep Stella happy during her supposed last few months, Stella is thrown in for a loop. This doesn’t stop the pilot from being comedic, despite the heavy material it throws at us. The light-hearted feel pulls us into the story and had me sympathizing with Stella every step of the way. Despite the way life has gone for her pre and post cancer diagnosis, she maintains a happy-go-lucky attitude and tries to make the best of the situation. It will be interesting to see where the series will go and how Stella will shift from her YOLO mindset to living a “normal” life.
Life Sentence is off to a great start and its success lies in its cast. Each character is unique and brings a little something of their own to the story. I can’t wait to how this story develops and the journey each character takes.