Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: Famous in Love

The producers of Pretty Little Liars bring us a new show about a girl, Paige Townsen (no d at the end) who goes from being an unknown college student to the famous lead in a Twilight-level blockbuster.

 The Premise - Basically, Paige goes to an audition when she's convinced by her struggling actress friend and ends up landing a role in a blockbuster but, this being Hollywood, there's a lot more going on. The lead, Rainer, is fighting with his co-star, Jordan, because Jordan slept with Rainer's girlfriend a famous singer not actually featured in the pilot. It's caused a publicity shit show that's got his mom, the producer of the film Locked, in a scramble to keep the local gossip pisqueak (and her former assistant) from torpedoing her son's career with unfounded "he's off the wagon rumors." Meanwhile, the open casting call was only supposed to be a publicity stunt to get up interest in the make-or-break film as two other A-list actresses, Dakota and Alexis, are waiting for the part. Alexis especially needs the role as she's had a Lindsay Lohan like career slump fueled by her stints in rehab. Oh, and Paige has a crush on her guy roommate and best friend, Charlie, and her best friend, Cassandra, is augmenting her rent by secretly being a call girl to the rich and powerful of Beverly Hills. And I haven't even touched all the intrigue of who is sleeping with whom yet...

The Good:

  • I like Bella Thorne in this role. I've never seen her work before, but I appreciate the effort she's made to help be honest about Bi Visibility. More than that, she's very adorable here. Paige has a tendency to ramble when nervous and fumble in adorkable ways that only make her more endearing at auditions. The fact that she's so good at being goofy but lovable is a huge selling point for the show
  • Nina - Rainer's producer mother, and a ball-busting manager who makes Kris Jenner look tame. I love her. There's no low she won't sink too, no Mama Grizzly instinct she won't channel, and no balls she won't squeeze (enough said). She's the Magnificent Bitch of the show so far and I like that.
  • Alexis - she has a lot of pathos already as a girl so desperate and besmirched by scandal that her agent won't even call her back. She's making desperate choices, and when it's revealed via a kiss at the end of the show that part of her pain is being forced to hide her relationship with (public rival) Dakota, your heart breaks a little for her and for how much she's trying to weather.
  • Queer women characters in the cast. So far we know that Alexis is bi and not above trying to use sex if she's desperate to get what she needs (which to be fair seems to be most of the het characters in the show and the nature of L.A.). We also have a Dakota who seems to be the perfect Brit It-Girl who is hesitant to reveal her relationship with Alexis whom she's always worried about, especially with her drinking. I loved when she reassured Dakota that all the brunette needed was one hit to be back on top in the town.
Far left blonde is Dakota and Alexis in red; Paige is in black.

The Bad
  • Too much is going on. The show actually starts with a flash forward to a year from now and Paige flying home from location and being famous. Then it flashes back. There's too many characters. I don't care about Paige's roommate and friend who will get jettisoned when she clearly is going to start dating Rainer (or possibly Jordan too). I just think the show is doing too much  off the bat so it's hard to get emotionally invested in anyone outside of probably Paige and that badass Nina the Evil Mom.
  • I don't care about the Rainer-Jordan feud over the offscreen singer. First, I can't remember the girl's name and I don't feel like anyone gets invested in a story that has so far occurred off screen. They try and bring the singer in a bit with characters watching E! news like shows with clips of the singer but it doesn't work..
  • The scenes are super short. It feels like people say about three sentences and stare mournfully and/or pout into the sunset.

The Verdict - Frankly, I give this show a C. I'll probably watch a few more from the app because I like Dakota/Alexis and also because Paige is adorably funny when she rambles and I wanna see Nina be evil and surprising (seriously, I won't spoil but her last scene left me gaping). However, half the cast I could give a shit about and I can't remember their names. I get they need enough to set up soapiness, but they tried to do much in forty minutes and it didn't work.

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