I’ve become used to TV shows using traditional mythology and well-known fantasy stories. With all of the shows about vampires and werewolves, I assumed there was nothing new to do, but then ABC Family’s The Nine Lives of Chloe King came into my life, and I was surprised.

A lot of the story may seem incredibly cliche, but the central supernatural element is anything but. On her 16th birthday, Chloe King (Skyler Samuels) starts to develop superb balance, supersonic hearing and deadly claws. Basically, she’s a cat.

Or rather, a Mai, and that’s where The Nine Lives of Chloe King becomes interesting. The Mai are an ancient race of catlike super humans who are being hunted by a mysterious evil organization. Mais traditionally have one life, but the legend says that one Mai will be the Uniter, and they’re not talking about George W. Bush. The Uniter has nine lives and will be the salvation of the Mai.

As you may have guessed from the show’s title, Chloe is the one with the nine lives. All of that mythology is revealed in the pilot, but there’s obviously a lot more to the story, and that’s what makes the show stand out. It also helps that the main character can be killed off eight times before she’s in any real danger, so Chloe King can literally be killed at any time.

Another thing that helps get fans hooked into any teen drama is a romantic triangle, and The Nine Lives of Chloe King has a good one that will certainly divide audiences. For some, there’s Brian, the tall, dark and handsome stranger who pops into Chloe’s life. He’s played by Grey Damon, who’s been heating up the world of hit TV shows on True Blood and Friday Night Lights.

Then there’s Alek, a cocky British student who Chloe seems to despise, but who might be more than just a jerk. He’s played by Benjamin Stone, who I will always see as Blank, the obnoxious British kid from ABC Family’s fabulously underrated 10 Things I Hate About You.

With these two guys in Chloe’s life, it’s a lot like Bill vs. Eric, Damon vs. Stefan or Edward vs. Jacob. Who can resist a teen show with rival potential love interests?

However, the problem with The Nine Lives of Chloe King is that many of the actual story elements seem painfully overused. There are several big twists in the premiere, one of which offers a pivotal romantic dilemma straight out of Pushing Daisies while another will feel very familiar to anyone who watched the premiere of MTV’s Teen Wolf. The endings of both premieres are nearly identical.

Still, despite some unoriginal beginnings, The Nine Lives of Chloe King is different enough thanks to the fact that it’s not using werewolves or vampires to explore issues of teen romance. Instead, we get a cat girl, and even though she lands on all fours, she’s also going to be dying a lot, and I can’t wait to see how Chloe King uses up her first eight lives.

(Image courtesy of ABC Family)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.