Kyle XY is an hour long drama focused on the introduction of a mysterious teenage boy, Kyle, into the lives of a nuclear family in Seattle. Kyle has no memory of his life before he appears naked in the woods covered in goo at the physical age of 14-16. Imagine being dropped into sophomore year of high school without the experience of junior high (an idea that is easily a worst nightmare award winner). Plus, we get to watch as Kyle tries to figure out his origins, including a missing belly button, and stumbles upon a bio tech conspiracy that may lead to his own demise.
What can other shows aimed at the younger viewers who can't stay up late enough to watch Lost learn from Kyle XY?
- The sexual jokes do not have to be obvious. My teenage years are long past so I get it without needing to call my buddies. The innuendos are mostly for the adults anyway why beat us over the head with it? In a cute moment between an aspiring couple on the show, Andy says, "I thought you would be better at rubbing wood." Josh replies with a "Heh" and continues trying to start a fire without matches. It's an obvious joke that hits the right mark without any additional need for explanation.
- Don't dismiss the parents or make them too cool for school. Mr. & Mrs. Trager are not idiots, and we don't want them to be. Nicole Trager is a psychologist and becomes the rock for Kyle. She figures out that Kyle is not like her other kids without catching Joyce Summers oblivitis. Not only does Kyle need her to know the truth, we need her to ask the same questions we are from our couches far away from Seattle. The O.C. handled the parents well too by making them sympathetic and likable with a few interesting storylines thrown their way.
- Not all kids have a trust fund. When Josh turned sixteen, he did not receive a brand new car but a fixer-upper. The questionable reliability of the car allowed for some key scenes between Josh and Andy and fueled a few minor arcs over several episodes which were not forced.
- Make the science fiction believable but don't treat the audience like idiots. Again with the trusting your audience to read above a ninth grade level. (We've read a comic book or two and don't giggle when talking about Philip K. Dick.) The references to Einstein when explaining why Adam Baylin and Kyle were able to excel beyond what we believe are the limits of human potential gave the story arc street cred with nerds. It's logical and makes sense. If we don't get it, the answers are only a few keystrokes away.
- Don't be afraid to tell us what is really going on. The biggest complaint from fans about Lost is the lack of answers. Kyle XY started its second season with two episodes packed with explanation without being boring. We met Andy during this time and saw her potential, and we watched the angst of Lori and Declan play out while getting Baylin's exposition in adjacent scenes. The conspiracy is reminiscent of classic sci fi shows, like The X-Files, while the show is still focused on the characters.
Kyle XY is the show I most look forward to this summer. It helps to make the time between May and September go by unnoticed.