Last week, “Switched at Birth” became ABC Family’s highest rated series debut ever. Tuesday night “The Nine Lives of Chloe King” might give it a run for its money. The saga of a teenage girl who discovers that she is part of an ancient race, the Mai, is fun and smart enough to evoke comparisons to the first season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Before you tune in, get the scoop on the characters and the show’s mythology.
Chloe King (Skyler Samuels) is a teenage every girl. She has a great relationship with her cool single mom, an after school job at a vintage clothing store, and a lifelong best friend. Even though she’s gorgeous, she’s invisible to boys. That all changes when she turns 16. Suddenly, she feels assertive and powerful. She also develops super strength and retractable claws. She’s not just your average Mai. She’s got the titular nine lives, which makes her the target of a group of mysterious people who seek to destroy her. In other words, she’s Buffy minus the vampires.
Luckily for Chloe, there are two other Mai at her school. Hot British jock Alek (Benjamin Stone) becomes her mentor. Think of him as Giles – if Giles were the same age as Buffy and possibly had a bit of a crush on her. Like Chloe, he was born in the Ukraine, which is apparently the Mai powerbase. Jasmine (Alyssa Diaz) is his tough partner in crime. Being a Mai has a serious downside. If they become physically intimate with humans, the human will die. It’s very “Pushing Daisies.”
Chloe has two lifelong best friends. Amy (Grace Phipps) is a drama queen with a heart of gold who favors faux fur coats. She’s Willow with Cordelia’s fashion sense. Paul (Ki Hong Lee) is the Xander, the nerdy guy who rises to the occasion when things get supernatural. The show gets bonus points for having a major Asian character, given that it’s set in San Francisco. Their clique is realistically in the middle of the totem pole. They aren’t popular, but they aren’t bullied. Amy and Paul also have lives of their own, rather than just existing to be a sounding board for Chloe.
Chloe is instantly smitten with Brian (Grey Damon, “Friday Night Lights”), a slightly older guy who shops at the boutique where she works. He seems perfect: smart, funny, a gentleman. However, there are a few complications. If she so much as kisses him, he’s a goner. If that weren’t bad enough, Brian’s father is part of the organization that’s trying to destroy the Mai.
Chloe’s father moved out when she was a child. Was he jut a deadbeat, or does he have something to do with the Mai? Does Chloe’s mother know her daughter’s true nature? What, exactly, are the Mai and how did they come to be in so much peril? What is the deal with Chloe’s snarky coworker? How does Chloe fall off one of San Francisco’s most recognizable landmarks without attracting any attention? All of these questions should be answered over the course of the season.