‘Life Sentence’ is fun and light-hearted but struggles to leave an impression

Roughly 10 months after “Pretty Little Liars” wrapped up its final season, actress Lucy Hale is returning to television as the star of the CW’s newest comedy series “Life Sentence.”

The first episode, which premiered Wednesday evening, introduced us to Stella, played by Hale, who has just been given a second chance at life. The show is light, quirky and heartfelt, but seems to fall short of leaving a mark that sticks.

In the pilot episode, Stella, a cancer patient, finds out a new treatment she had been trying worked and she is now cancer free. Sounds like amazing news, right? It is, except for the fact that Stella and her family had been living like she was dying for years.

She was under an illusion, and learning she isn’t dying is a big wake-up call. She rushed into a marriage with a man she barely knew, her parents are separating after staying together only for her sake, her older brother still lives at home and only sleeps with married women, her sister has put her career on the backburner for her family and Stella has no concept of what it means to be an adult.

“Most people think this show is about a girl with cancer. It actually becomes a show about a girl who has no idea who she is and has to re-think he life because up until very recently, she was living as if there was no consequences for her actions. She was just living like there was no tomorrow,” Hale told Variety Magazine.

Throughout the episode, Hale shines bright. Yes, Stella is absorbed with herself and is out of touch with reality, but considering the fact she had been battling with cancer for eight years, you can’t really blame her. Hale makes Stella a lovable character you want to root for. She tries her best to make the best out of every situation and tries to pick her family up out of the ditch they have fallen into. It’s obvious that no matter what comes her way, Stella will be able to overcome it.

Stella’s brother Aiden, played by Jayson Blair, and her sister Elizabeth, played by Brooke Lyons, are both slightly a mess but still lovable characters as well. Their sibling dynamic, as well as the dynamic between their parents, played by Gillian Vigman and Dylan Walsh, add humor to the show.

“I had never done anything tonally as light as this because there’s a comedy element. But really why I wanted to do it is because I think Stella is such an important character,” Hale said on why she took the role. “She’s someone that I want to aspire to be more like. She’s really smart, she’s just ultimately a girl who gets a second chance at life and is trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. I thought the idea was really interesting to take the cancer movie story and flip it on its head and give it a different ending than they usually have.”

Stella is left with the question “So now what?” and so are we. The pilot episode was funny and interesting, but doesn’t exactly leave us with a thick plot. The main action of the series happened before it even began: Stella’s battle with cancer and her decision to live life wildly. Now that she is cancer-free, there isn’t really any conflict, which makes the show easily forgettable. It was fun and likeable, but didn’t leave viewers with much to look forward to. There was no cliffhanger ending, no promising future storylines.

Despite the lack of conflict, I do still believe the show can work. There have been plenty of shows that don’t have the craziest plots (think “Gilmore Girls”) that have still been super successful and interesting. If the series carries on with its witty dialogue and develops sympathetic characters, it can work. It has the foundation, it just needs to build from there.

The next episode of “Life Sentence” airs on March 14 at 9 p.m. on the CW.

Rating: 3/5

Melissa Scrivani is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at melissa.scrivani@uconn.edu.