TV Recap: MTV’s Finding Carter, Series Premiere

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To anyone who has the same fond childhood memories of reading The Face on the Milk Carton as I do, the plot of the new MTV show Finding Carter will sound a bit familiar. It’s not a bad thing though, it’s certainly not a plot that’s been overdone, and it’s an interesting area to explore.

Finding Carter is centered around Carter (Kathryn Prescott), a teenage girl who when arrested for trespassing finds out her mother actually kidnapped her from her biological parents when she was 3 years old.

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There are a few big differences between The Face on the Milk Carton and Finding Carter. The first being that Janie sees her face on, well, the milk carton and starts to investigate, finding out what happened to her slowly. She then gets to choose to meet her family. I’m a little vague on the details, but I believe she lives with her bio family for a little while, but ultimately gets to choose to move back in with her parents. It should also be noted that the parents she loves did not know she was kidnapped, so Janie didn’t grow up with child snatchers. Their daughter gave Janie to them, and they believed she was their biological granddaughter.

With Carter, it’s a completely different story. She’s grown up with the woman who kidnapped her, “Lori Stevens” (Milena Govich) – a woman who comically looks much more like Carter’s sister than her mom. Oh, MTV. Carter also doesn’t get a choice. The FBI swoops in and gives Carter back to her original family, leaving Lori on the run. Carter has her world completely ripped from under her. Everyone kind of expects her to be happy to come home, but in reality she’s a girl who’s just been taken away from her mother to live with strangers.

It turns out Carter’s birth name is Linden, which she refuses to go by. She says it’s because her name is the only thing she has left, but I think we all know it’s because Linden is the worst name in the history of ever. She also has a twin sister, Taylor (Anna Jacoby-Heron), and a little brother, Grant (Zac Pullam). Fans of the UK series Skins will recognize that Prescott has a real twin sister, who funnily enough does not play Taylor. At first I thought that was the most hilarious thing. I still think it’s hilarious, but I also don’t think Megan Prescott would have been quite right for the role. Taylor is an awkward do-gooder who doesn’t get attention from boys and has never been to a party in her life, and Jacoby-Heron does an excellent job. I’m also SO loving their little brother, Grant. He’s tiny and nobody pays attention to him, which makes him very observant. Everything he says is so poignant. He’s the best.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Carter’s father is played by Alexis Denisof. I’ve never seen him do anything bad, and this role is no exception — though he does get to be way less quirky than I’ve seen him in the past. Dad is a famous author whose best-selling novel “Losing Linden” is obviously about Carter. He’s gotten an advance to write a new book, “Finding Carter” but he promised Carter he wouldn’t write it. Throughout the first two episodes we see Carter actually find a little bit of trust in her birth father, which is why it’s so disappointing to find out he is writing the novel behind her back. #FutureDrama

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Meanwhile, Carter’s bio mom Elizabeth (Cynthia Watros) is bit of a stereotypical TV cop: Stiff, obsessed with her work, very strict. Elizabeth is completely obsessed with finding Lori, without realizing how much it’s driving a wedge between her and Carter before their relationship has even begun. By the end of episode one, I wondered why Elizabeth was even determined to have any kind of relationship with Carter, when she really seemed unfeeling and focused mostly on having Carter fall in line. We do get to see some layers there in episode two, and Carter makes it clear that Elizabeth’s hunting her mother makes Carter herself feel threatened. Though only future episodes will tell if Elizabeth can actually let go of her vendetta.

Even though this show has elements we’ve seen before, I really think Finding Carter is something special. There is so much complexity in this storyline, so many layers to peel away at. I found the first two episodes completely riveting, and I’m excited to see how Carter’s story will unfold with her new family. So far I find it to be a fairly realistic portrayal of what it might be like to have your world turned around in one evening.

I loved Kathryn Prescott on Skins and I think it’s exciting to see her carry a show. She has such a great presence on screen, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us this season.

all finding carter images credit mtv

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Marla Pachter is a comedic writer, obsessed with all things television. She doesn’t discriminate against TV shows, which either results in pleasant surprise or an eviscerating review for your reading pleasure. Marla loves Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine Nine, and she will probably be watching new seasons of Grey’s Anatomy until she’s 90. Sometimes she writes TV shows herself, but they don’t air on television. She also likes big butts and she cannot lie. (That was a lie). @MarlaPachter