April 23, 2017
By Gabriela Thur de Koos
Famous in Love premiered on Freeform last week with all episodes available to binge for free on freeform.go.com. Famous in Love features Bella Thorne as Paige Townsen (Townsend but without the d so it’s actually Townsen and something Paige says at least 25 times in a single episode. Paige is a college student with an unfulfilling major in economics because she secretly wants to be an actress but doesn’t have the guts to tell her parents. Then, one day her roommate/best friend makes her go to an open audition for a lead character in the upcoming movie fictional adaptation of Locked. Paige gets the role and is catapulted to stardom where she finds out that Hollywood is about to turn her entire life upside down where she trades friendship and privacy for glamour and celebrity.
After watching the pilot episode, all I can really say is nice concept but its not anything special. Of course, take my opinion with a grain of salt as all great tv shows also suffer from pilot-itis (a common difficulty for new television shows to adequately introduce their audience to a new story in a compressed period of time). The Flash and Supergirl both had rushed pilots that fell flat and awkward. Eventually, both shows picked up speed and character development enough to become two of my favorite tv shows currently on the air. So before I give my critique just remember- there’s still room to improve.
Starting off, the premise. The promotion of this show was interesting enough for me to click on the first episode and watch the whole thing through. I was intrigued to see exactly in what ways Paige’s life could get turned around in unexpected ways. I. Marlene King made Pretty Little Liars, a hit tv show that kept me locked in for about 4 seasons before it got redundant. So I was hopeful that she would avoid the easy cliches that would come with this tv show. I was wrong.
Paige’s story makes for a decent guilty pleasure but nothing really swept me off my feet in the pilot. I’ll continue to watch a few of the following episodes to see if it’s really worth my time but I probably would not be doing that if the whole series wasn’t available to binge online. Good move on Freeform’s part. However, I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to take the subpar acting and hackneyed lines bleeding through every scene. Bella Thorne’s character is an awkward, rambling young college student who has no idea how to treat a celebrity like a normal person. She’s an overused stock character and Thorne isn’t very good at playing it (ahhhh the awkwardness is so forced). Frankly, the fake acting for the Locked audition is better than half the acting on the actual show. Not to say Thorne isn’t a good actor, because the script isn’t giving her much to work with. And, like I said, her character is as cliche as they come- it’s pretty hard to give that an Emmy-worthy performance.
Moving on, I already don’t like the spoiled teen heartthrob feuding with his equally handsome ex-best friend. Carter Jenkins portrays Rainer Devon and Keith T. Powers portrays Jordan Wilder. The pair are in the midst of a massive public feud over, you’ll never guess, a girl. There’s about 3 love triangles present in this already trite and cliche series. The one that takes place before the show between Rainer, Keith, and Tangey. The second one is the love triangle in the fictional movie Locked. The third is the attraction Paige has to both Rainer and boy-next-door roommate Jake. Now, I have a major problem with all the male characters in this show. Obviously they were all cast to appeal to as many shallow teenage girls as possible. Honestly, it implies a serious disrespect for the show’s audience. The main female character s given a half-assed storyline where her entire purpose in the show is to choose between sweet boy Jake or bad boy Rainer. Forget strong female characters, let’s just ignore all feminist progress made in media and give you a girl who can’t stop babbling at the spoiled heartthrob flirting with her.
The lead character in this television show is Paige, yet there’s nothing in the pilot that makes me want to know more about Paige. She’s terribly awkward and so #relatable that it does an injustice to actual socially awkward individuals. Honestly, anytime she starts bumbling her way through scenes with Rainor, Jake, or even Keith I want to turn off the program. I have nothing against awkward or quirky female character. I have a problem when that is her main characteristic without making the character 3-dimensional and having development throughout the series. But again, its just the pilot. I’m disappointed how the show incredibly fumbled the opportunity to introduce their main character but, again, introducing an entire television premise is difficult to do in one hour. The only thing that the pilot had going for it was Cassie’s mysterious storyline with the man who offers her money to come to his house (PLEASE do not make it predictable).
Nevertheless, I’ll consider giving the show the benefit of the doubt and maybe watch an episode or two in my spare time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised. Shadowhunters premiered on Freeform last year with subpar acting, an even worse script, and continuity issues for days. Yet, they brought in new show runners for the second season along with new scriptwriters and the improvement was exponential. Will Famous in Love have the same luck? I doubt it.
What are your thoughts? comment below!
All images are not my own- they were found on Google Images.