Life Sentence has an Aidan problem. Life Sentence Season 1 Episode 6 also has a Stella problem and Who Framed Stella Abbot demonstrates this clearly.
In Aidan, they're starting a character journey having jumped past the context of what made him who he is today, leaving us filling in the empty spaces and relying on exposition.
With Stella, they're restarting her life anew which means that her troubles of naivete are relatable but also frustrating as she remains self-centered and oblivious to how her actions have caused stress for others.
The two characters are at such opposite ends of the narrative spectrum and yet they're used to be the main driving points of the series, resulting in a tonal dissonance as one story is much more serious than the other, but both are being treated with the same level of vibrant buoyancy.
Seriously, every frame looks like it was ripped out of a Pottery Barn catalog.
I couldn't sleep last night and organizing soothes me.Ida
Life Sentence isn't a bad show, and it's never been anything less than breezy and entertaining on a shallow level. However, when you're going to tackle a subject such as a character facing felony charges for dealing drugs, there needs to be a weight to it. There need to be stakes.
Aidan selling the rest of his pills isn't just a bad idea and a move that we all can see ending poorly for him, it also is a detriment to the character who, up until this point, might've been frustrating in his arrested development type of way but now is relatively reprehensible.
It was hard not to understand Peter and Ida's tough love approach as they've had to witness all of his messes in the past that have resulted in zero repercussions. We're supposed to be rooting for Stella, and her family persists above all, but Aidan was doing a bad thing and needed to be called on it.
It means that his getting arrested feels justified, even if it's taking the quickest available route to rock bottom for the character, rather than allowing the character to develop -- in either a positive or negative way -- organically. Instead, since the very start, we've been explicitly told the character motivation of each individual.
Your brother needs to learn the consequences of his actions, it's the only way he'll ever learn.Peter
This is further highlighted hereafter Stella accuses him of caring about no one other than himself.
To which he responds by telling her he only got into selling drugs because of his concern for her when she was sick, and he was still in college.
We're gifted the tiniest of flashbacks where there are bad wigs and muted colors, and it's all to tell us that Aidan was tired, working overtime and staying up to visit his sick sister and it all felt so tactless.
I think it's time for a little tough love.Ida
Using his grief and the desperation that manifested itself due to it as the lousy justification of why he started selling his medication was a cheap tactic. It worked on Stella, sure, but it shouldn't work on the audience.
If this is the story, you're going to tell then commit to it. Don't offer the character an easy way out.
Peter initially refusing to bail his son out also is in character as the two have a push-pull relationship that has yet to be fully cemented, instead morphing into whatever the series needs it to be on an episode to episode basis.
I wanted you to know I had your back.Wes
Having this also be the episode where Stella begins to go gaga over Doctor Grant meant that it resolutely became my least favorite episode of the series so far. It's stalling as we've yet to form any real attachment to Grant yet. And why should we?
Pushing aside my qualms over this whole Will Grant and Stella dalliance and/or sexual curiosity which stem precisely from the fact that I can't understand anyone choosing him over Wes, the biggest issue is that we haven't seen this so-called connection we're being told they have.
It's another example of the shows debilitating reliance on the "tell" instead of "show" style of storytelling they've been using. It cheapens the overall outcome because the audience is never allowed to work to the conclusion on their own.
It is even highlighted after Wes bails Aidan out of jail. Instead of trusting the audience to know that he went against his better judgment to do so because he loves Stella, it instead makes sure to highlight this with dialogue.
As if she didn't already know.
Life Sentence, is undeniably charming with apartment set pieces dragged directly out of my Pinterest dream decor file, but it lacks confidence in the story it's telling and how they're telling it.
Rely on the charismatic characters, the easy to follow storyline and its nature of being the televised version of comfort food.
I guarantee that once the show allows itself to breathe and tell stories at a slower, steadier clip, the negatives will begin to recede.
Remember that you watch Life Sentence online via TV Fanatic and decide for yourself if you like the tone the series is currently trying to rock.
Allyson Johnson was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in May 2018. Follow her on Twitter.