Freeform’s Famous in Love is more like Famous in Young Hollywood Messiness

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Now that I’m out of school for the summer, I finally have the time to catch up on new television shows that may have premiered over the duration spring semester. I missed the new CW series Riverdale after 3 episodes. (Gotta catch up on that). While FOX’s Empire may come to an end sooner or later, I might stop watching altogether as it’s becoming more and more uninteresting to see with each episode.

In comes, the new series Famous In Love. Freeform, formerly known as ABC Family, is in need of another smash series on their roster as the pop culture phenomenon is known as Pretty Little Liars is coming to an end with its series finale premiering on June 27th. Carrying a formula similar to other Freeform shows (or teen-centric shows in general), the cast is made up of mostly unknowns which are cheaper than getting superstars (except for sexy Keith Powers whom you may remember as the co-star in The New Edition Story mini-series on BET earlier this year). However, the lead star of the show is former Disney star, Bella Thorne.

I’ve never cared to watch Disney Channel post-2009, so I didn’t know who Bella Thorne and Zendaya were on until later on when they became more relevant in the mainstream celebrity world. That didn’t happen until their show Shake It Up! ended. I started stanning out for Zendaya after she dropped her first album while Bella Thorne I didn’t care for at all. I know she took on the Drew Barrymore legacy playing the 2015 version of naive Casey Becker Nina Patterson in the first ten minutes of the MTV television reboot of Scream.

With the series Famous in Love, it seems like Bella Thorne is using this opportunity to as a stepping stone to help further distance herself from her Disney persona/audience. It’s not easy for former Disney/Nickelodeon stars to transition into adult roles that can help them be taken seriously by the industry. However, after watching five episodes, I don’t think this series does much for Bella Thorne’s post-Disney career. I’m confident to believe there isn’t that big of a gap between folks who watched Shake It Up and Sonny with a Chance to those now watching Freeform shows.

In a nutshell, the show centers around Thorne’s character Paige Townsen (without the d) who is a college student/aspiring actress in Los Angeles living in an apartment with her two best friends Cassie and Jake. Paige’s life changes when she is plucked from a cattle call and cast as the lead actress in a YA-book phenomenon turned major Hollywood film adaption called Locked. Paige stars along with:

  • Heartthrob Rainer Devon who is part Leonardo DiCaprio/part hoe
  • Alexia Green who apparently washed up (who acts petty towards Paige), desperate, and hiding that she’s bisexual
  • Jordan Wilder (played by Keith) who seems to always be in his feelings and in a love triangle dispute with Rainer
  • Tanger Turner what kind of name is that for a pop star a Rihanna/Beyonce-esque pop star who still has feelings for Wilder

Like any other teen series throughout the episodes are GAGs, twists, turns and messing-around-with-one-another as the character are all in a small world uncontrollably interconnected.

However the show looks fun to watch for a little bit, but it comes very basic, unrealistic and a little bit thought-provoking. I don’t know what the entertainment industry is like as I’ve never been in it or around it. So I could very much get an impression that people in Hollywood are straight up GRIMEY and that to become a celebrity is lose your individual soul and dignity. There are various scenes throughout the show where you see some of the young starlets doing ANYTHING to either keep their career or public image afloat. To the public, Jordan is an orphan who parents are deceased when it turns out his mom is alive and gives into her attempt to blackmail him out of thousands of dollars to keep this orphan story a secret. Then we have Alexia who gives a film director fellatio so she can get cast in this Locked movie.

The main storyline (at least this season) is unrealistic itself. So yes, Paige Townsen is going to be starring in Locked, but she breaks this news her pro-education parents (dad) who then makes a spreadsheet of how can she balance this and being a college student. We see for the next couple of episodes, Paige is BARLEY getting by completing her truckload of class assignments while participating in mandatory photo shoots and filming movie scenes day-by-day.

On behalf of being full-time college student myself, in real life, it wouldn’t be possible in any way shape or form to be able to keep up with college and shoot a major Hollywood movie at the same time. It is either you pick one or the other. Being a movie star (or the next Kristen Stewart) is not a part time job. Being a college student (with 15-18 credits a semester) itself is a full-time job despite not getting a paycheck. It is very demanding, and even if someone were to skip the extracurricular activities and events like Townsen, you still have to put in so many hours and effort into your school work while submitting it promptly. There’s a scene where Paige missed the deadline for her research paper and come to her professor’s office to try to hand it in asking if she can be excused “this one time” explaining that she’s late on the assignment because she was shooting a movie. The professor rightfully said no and gave the perfect explanation why. You would think the writers would give Bella Thorne’s character some common sense that college faculty does not put their students on a pedestal no matter if you’re about to be a movie star or replacing a member in a girl group.

Another unrealistic setting that stands out on the show is the character’s financial situation and the questionable apartment they live at. It’s gorgeous don’t get me wrong, but it’s Los Angeles, and they are college students (Cassie is on the brink of being kicked out school over the outstanding tuition bill while Jake doesn’t come from money as well). The rent for an apartment in real life like theirs has to be at least more than $1200 a month at best.

Overall, the show needs a makeover for the second season that is less cookie-cutter if that makes sense. And Belle Thorne could use a new hair color and more studious acting lessons. Thorne, who’s been famous since her pre-pubescent day, tries to play a normal character but it feels forced.

I will tell you it gets an A for diversity. Teen soap opera are increasingly getting more diverse in the representation of the character of many various races as exemplified by Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why. No longer are there Gossip Girl, and 90210-esqe shows with the token POC whose the only storyline in the show to propel their white counterparts.

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