Screen: MTV

Brotherly Love

He's written and portrayed well -- and Grant Wilson also reminds Sarah of her own Grant.

I started out kind of hate-watching Finding Carter, because based on the promos, it seemed like a craven attempt to capitalize on the success of Switched At Birth, which is fine, with Milena Govich in the cast, which is not. The show got me on board quickly, though, not least because Govich isn't terrible. …Okay, the cheap-seats jaw-clenching at the end of last night's outing (and that lipstick, oy) is not her best work, and she may benefit in my esteem from spending most of her time offscreen so far, but still: isn't terrible.

My favorite part of Finding Carter, though, is the supporting characters: Ofe, the bookie who wants to start a Yelp for drug dealers; Crash, exactly the sort of short-sighted bad boy a girl like Carter thinks is kind of profound, but also laughs at herself a little for falling for it; gentle and insightful doofus Max, who isn't totally sure "crouton spicer" isn't a real job, so he asks just in case; and my favorite, Carter's 12-year-old brother, Grant. Zac Pullam is a charming, cute-but-not-cutesy actor who bears a resemblance to Ethan "Pete on Benson" Phillips, and he's the rare TV kid between the ages of 2 and 14 who isn't written like either a simpleton or a too-knowing Greek chorus commenting on his older siblings' lives. Grant is knowing, though; one of his first lines is him introducing himself as "the replacement kid" Elizabeth and David had to fill the space left by Carter's abduction. He's not precious about it, just snarkily resigned.

For me, it's more than the character himself, or his delightful around-the-edges relationship with Max, which I do love. It reminds me a little of Garry (Joaquin, then Leaf, Phoenix and Keanu Reeves) in the movie Parenthood -- not just because Max has that Keanu/Taylor Kitsch stoner-y keep-it-simple vibe to him, but because you can see as they play videogames together how happy Grant is to have big-boy time with someone, get advice on his hair, hear that he's cool. He needs it, amidst all the mother-daughter and sister-vs.-sister dramz going on around him, and while David does nad up and kick Crash out of the house in Grant's defense, it probably feels like just more Carter-centric agita to Grant (and of course that's what it turns into narratively); mostly, David is selling his wife out to Carter, selling Carter out to his agent, preoccupied with all these other not-Grant things. All of that is well done and not hit too hard by the writing, and when it gets a little dusty in a scene, as it did last week when Carter ended up in the hospital, it still works.

But when I was Carter's (and Taylor's) age, I had a Grant of my own, and part of the reason I engage with the character so strongly is what a relief my own Grant could be after a full day of girls'-school Theater Of The Bored. Little brothers just say stuff. Occasionally they offer obvious solutions while dunking on your ass in Atari. You can laugh about farts and it's not this exhausting Tennessee Williams one-act all the fuckin' time, and Grant serves that purpose for his sisters -- but also for the audience. He's got his own problems, and we care about them, but at the same time, his half-sentence pointing out to Taylor that she could have friends over and "get away with" the things Carter does if she wanted to resonates with this retired Taylor, who sometimes needed her own Grant to respond to "BUT I'M ALWAYS GOOD AND NOBODY CARES" with "get over it."

Solid acting, writing that doesn't get too damp about Grant's position in the family, and a spiritual kinship with Danielle "I'm always getting kicked out of rooms" Chase from MSCL makes Grant Wilson a character I love. And…would watch in a "he and Max play videogames" vlog-advice-column web series. MTV, I'll await my check.

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