With Kyle XY season three starting up tonight, and the second season DVDs hitting shelves, it's a good time to discover that this "family-friendly" show is actually much cooler than you'd expect.
I got a review copy of the Kyle XY season two DVDs, and have been watching all the early episodes from the season that I missed the first time around. I really only got hooked on the show during the second half of the season — I had dismissed it as insipid warm'n'fuzzy entertainment with a wholesome lesson in every episode until then. The thing is, the show is warm and fuzzy, and it does have wholesome lessons about family and stuff, but it's also surprisingly real and smart.
Season two is when Kyle learned more of the truth of his origins — that he was a scientific experiment based, very loosely, on some theories of Einstein's. And he spent the first years of his life maturing in a tank, until he was found, wandering in the woods with no memory of who he was (and no bellybutton). Season two also sees the introduction of Jessi XX, Kyle's female counterpart, who's sort of the Faith to his Buffy. (She's a psycho who fell into the wrong hands, instead of the right hands, after she got out of her own incubation tank.) Kyle has to learn how to try and live a normal life and deal with relationships and stuff, while simultaneously developing his secret mental powers and dealing with a million confusing super-science conspiracies.
And that's the thing about Kyle XY: I actually like all the characters on this show, even the sometimes excessively wholesome mom. I love his stepbrother Josh, who's a sarcastic nerd — in season two Josh encounters a video-game-playing nerd girl and tries to turn her into his best friend and honorary wingman, before finally giving into the inevitable and dating her. It is the cutest storyline EVAR! And Lori, the queen bitch step-sister. I've never watched Gossip Girl, but I imagine Kyle XY's teens are more believable and a million times less annoying.
And the wholesome thing? Not as overwhelming as you'd think. In one episode, Kyle locks himself in his bedroom for the first time, and his host family spends five minutes joking about whether Kyle has finally learned to masturbate. In another, Jessi the freak girl spots some condoms in a guy's box o' stuff, and asks whose pleasure they're ribbed for. (I think they end up hooking up, too.) Lori the stepsister, and her best friend, spend a whole episode scheming to avoid winning on their high school's slut-of-the-year competition. The host parents get all freaked out when they realize their son Josh has been smoking weed — and then they realize he stole it from them.
Okay, sure, it's not dark and edgy like BSG, but Kyle XY has become something of a guilty pleasure for me. I really want to see if Lori and her new sarcastic DJ boytoy manage to hook up, and what happens with Josh's nerdy girlfriend. I don't really care about Kyle's love life, but that's because he's dating the show's only weak character — if he hooks up with his fellow test-tube baby Jessi, then I'll be glued to the screen.
Here are some clips from the new DVD box set. And it's on ABC Family tonight at 9.
Pushing Too Hard:
Matt and Jamie featurette: