Families come in all shapes and sizes — and they can come together in different ways. That’s the lesson of Life Unexpected, the CW’s sweet show about a teenager, Lux (Britt Robertson), who grew up in foster care until she reunited with her birth parents, radio personality Cate and bartender Baze, who’ve been estranged since high school. In the show’s first season, the three learned to become a family. The show returns with its season 2 premiere Tuesday (9 p.m. ET) — and Robertson, Shiri Appleby, who plays Cate, and Kristoffer Polaha, who plays Baze, tell PEOPLE about the new season and how the show has touched fans.
What’s your hope for your Cate? What’s your fear?
Shiri: My hope for the character is that she learns to trust people. My fear is that her pain is going to make that impossible. I also hope she learns to cook but that will never, ever happen. Ever.
And for Baze?
Kristoffer: Baze has had a rough go at love as we saw his broken relationship come to a head last season with his dad, combined with the fact that he rejected a pregnant Cate in high school. Baze is ashamed and riddled with guilt . . . so my hope for season 2 is that Baze will realize we all fall short, we all make mistakes, and that in all of us being broken, we are all actually okay and worthy to be loved . . . My fear for Baze will be that he puts himself out there to love and to be loved and he gets his heart ripped out.
Britt: I hope that Lux learns to be more patient with her parents and people in general. And to learn that not everyone is out to get her and despite all the love she now has, no one is perfect and disappointments are bound to happen . . . My biggest fear is that Lux forgets where she came from.
What could break the family bond your characters formed in the first season?
Britt: The only thing that could possibly come between that bond is the past. Dishonesty was a big breaking point last season and I have a feeling some of those issues could come out and end up biting them in the butt.
Shiri: The family bond could be tested by any of us not being accountable for our actions as members of the new family unit.
Kristoffer: In episode one of season 2 you’ll meet three people who will test the newly formed bonds of our little family. There are also two major events — one will rock Baze’s world and the other will end Cate’s world as she knows it.
What do you need to know if you’re tuning into Life Unexpected for the first time?
Kristoffer: To watch the premiere, you need to know that this family is as fragile as an eggshell.
Britt: Not everything is what it appears to be. It’s not a fluffy or surface show. Expect the unexpected. (As cheesy as that sounds.)
Shiri: The one thing someone who hasn’t seen the show needs to know when they sit down to watch the premiere is that it is actually possible that I’m a mom to a 16-year-old. Shocking yet true.
Have you heard from fans who relate to the show?
Kristoffer: I have heard from fans on Facebook who have been touched by the fact that Lux lived in foster care . . . I’ve also heard a few stories about guys who “were Baze” in real life when a child they didn’t know they had had showed up. You can find these stories on my Facebook page, they are intense. The show really strikes a chord with people and touches the heart. These messages made me realize what a special show I’m a part of and how cathartic a sweet little show like ours can be.
Britt: There have been a couple of people who have reached out as fans of the show that had expressed their gratitude and how much they have been affected by the stories. One girl in particular, whose name I’ll leave anonymous, said that she had been through an almost identical situation as Lux. She asked about research that I had done for the role and also for my advice . . . I’m just glad our show has been able to give a voice to those kids across the world who have lived in the system.
Shiri: This summer I was doing a radio tour and a man stopped me as I was leaving. He started getting tears in his eyes as we said hello and he pulled out a picture of him and his teenage daughter that he had just reunited with. I have met so many people since Life Unexpected started that had been estranged from their children and can find comfort, hope and reassurance in the show.