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TV Series Review

It's been said that Harrison Ford became Han Solo because he once installed a door for George Lucas. Legendary actress Lana Turner was sitting in a malt shop when she was noticed by an agent. Stars are born in all sorts of ways—sometimes even through the soul-sapping audition process.

That's how Paige Townsen (no "d" at the end) became a star. Hollywood's newest would-be "it" girl was just an unassuming college student before her roommate, Cassie, encouraged her to try out for the lead in the upcoming film Locked. Naturally, she gets the part. (Otherwise this would've been a mercifully short series.) Perhaps it was her acting that nabbed her the role, or her flaming red hair, or her mysteriously over-plumped lips that seem to make it difficult for Paige to smile.

But getting the part was easy compared to what awaits her. For now she must deal with backstabbing rivals and a bevy of potential suitors. And because Paige wants to stay in school, too, she's got to figure out how to juggle time on the set with time at her desk. Whoo-boy! The girl's got it tough, doesn't she?

Shaking It Up

Freeform's Famous in Love stars Bella Thorne, perhaps best known as one of the pubescent stars (along with Zendaya) of Disney's sitcom Shake It Up. Like many other Mouse House mini-mavens, Thorne seems to have taken great pains to distance herself from her squeaky-clean Disney image, talking openly about her bisexuality and posting risqué images of herself on Snapchat.

"Do you think that I wanted to be a Disney girl?" she recently said on MTV's Happy Sad Confused podcast. "Did you think I wanted to do that? We [my family] were about to live physically on the street if I didn't have that role."

Seems Thorne did not relish her days as a Disney princess, which makes her current project a bit ironic. Her character essentially is a Disney sitcom heroine—only with more smooching and sexual intrigue in the mix.

Paige, like Hannah Montana and Shake It Up's CeCe Jones and plenty of others, is just a normal girl with a normal life. But she wants to be famous, too, and she gets an unexpected shot at stardom. How does this grounded, sweet girl deal with the pressures of sudden celebrity?

Here, Disney and Freeform diverge a bit. While Disney's characters persevered with the help of family, solid values and maybe a colored wig, Paige leans on a handful of friends with dubious morals, a few cutthroat associates and, of course, the beauteous beaus in the show's requisite love triangle. Oh, and perhaps a secret crib sheet to keep everyone's secrets and sexual affairs straight.

Famous in Lust?

It's not that Famous in Love is a completely moral-free environment. Thorne does her best to play Paige as an innocent, well-meaning ingénue who loves her parents and understands that fame can be fleeting. Jake, her best friend and sometime kiss-comrade, does his best to give Paige whatever support he can.

But the morals here are strictly secular and as uncertain as a summer breeze. Cassie, Paige's other BFF, is a rock of a companion … but also works as a topless companion to well-heeled gentlemen. Jordan, one of Paige's sympathetic co-stars on Locked, is having an affair with the film's producer and the mother of Jordan's best friend. Alexis, Paige's catty foil, is a closeted lesbian, but one who's clearly willing to spend an afternoon on the infamous "casting couch" if the part's juicy enough.

Sure, lip service is paid to friendship and loyalty and more lasting values. But those lips are locked far more frequently on the face of the show's latest pretty person.

Famous in Love feels a little like La La Land, only without much to sing and dance about. It's a manipulative, salacious, badly written mess that made me feel a little pity for everyone involved in it. And while it's early in the show's run yet, I'm not sure if Famous in Love would know real love if it tripped over it.

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Episode Reviews

Famous in Love: May 30, 2018 "The Good, the Bad and the Crazy."
Famous in Love: April 24 2017 "A Star is Torn"



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Bella Thorne as Paige; Charlie DePew as Jake; Georgie Flores as Cassie; Carter Jenkins as Rainer; Niki Koss as Alexis; Keith Powers as Jordan; Pepi Sonuga as Tangey; Perrey Reeves as Nina; Shawn Christian as Alan Mills; Romeo Miller as Pablo






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