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Famous In Love - Series Postmortem - "The End or Not?"

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Disclaimer Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpoilerTV.

Famous In Love is available on Hulu and Freeform

I held back reviewing the last two episodes of Famous In Love, but it’s been bothering me so much that I couldn’t let it go. First, I have had a few paragraphs written for several weeks, but I couldn’t find any motivation to complete the whole thing. One of the many reasons was how different the last two episodes felt when I watched them. I watched episode nine on my regular schedule and watched the finale while I was on the road for two weeks. The episode's pacing was quite good, and every story got some conclusion if I can call what happened a “wrap.” I had many questions about the kind of about-turn that the show decided to take at the end with some of the characters so, for this final season write up, I revisit our main characters and a few others and talk about how they fared in the show. Secondly, this shows’ ratings were not the greatest but as Freeform always likes to proclaim; their viewers are more likely to watch on other platforms, so worry not doth they about live viewings. We all know that they should have cared because spending more money on a show that nobody was watching would have been a sound investment. So they had no choice but to CANCEL.

Having said all that, season two was average at best, and I was disappointed as a fan and as a reviewer.

Since Georgie Flores didn't have much to do this season, I took the liberty of giving her more words than the writers did in this recap. Cassandra Perkins aka Cassie was Paige’s (Bella Thorne) best friend and also her roommate in season one. In season two she was handling different roles in Paige’s life with the main one being her unofficial therapist. A supportive friend was something that Cassie was good at and many times showed up even though Paige and her whiny self-didn't deserve it. She started off season two cast besides Paige in Jake's (Charlie DePew) independent movie but once Paige dropped out to focus on “Locked” Cassie took her role or maybe not because they hired Billy (Claudia Lee) instead. Cassie did act in the movie, but this final episode is where we first heard her mention it while trying to check Jake on his feelings for Billy. Flores was stuck with a sexual abuse storyline which was painful to watch, but her execution was terrific.

I am glad they touched on sexual harassment, but the burden of preventing such a situation from happening was on the victim which, didn’t sit very well with me. I don’t know whose decision it was to do this but in one scene in episode six “the goodbye boy” Cassie hits the abusive costar by slamming a car door at him to protect herself; this could have caused her more harm than good. Another perplexing thing was the director viewing Cassie’s actions as a great emotional arc and then proceeds to ask her to stay on through the project. Okay, I am going to be real here for a moment “what the actual hell.” It is clear that filming sets are extremely busy work areas but there is always plenty of idle time, and people observe a lot of what’s going on behind the scenes. How do you think TMZ gets all the juicy stories? The fact that no one came up to intervene for Cassie was disappointing, and such incidents need to change.

Cassie had a boyfriend Adam (Tom Maden) who was around in a few episodes and then they had a semi-breakup if you can call it that, which was ridiculous because no one cared. I know I didn’t because the writers gave me nothing to applaud from these two. There was no episode dedicated to Cassie and Adam to at least make the viewer understand the need to get rid of Adam. This madness was not enough so we were subjected to Adam informing us of a movie role he booked that would be filming in Iceland. This part is where any amateur can tell you how the story of Cassie and Adam would go; they even made Cassie have a conversation with an Icelandic woman who told Cassie how lucky she was to be Adams girlfriend. Cassie was supposedly jealous, but only a blind person could believe Flores in this scene. I was done at this point and didn’t care much about anything else they would throw Cassie’s way. Her decision to head to Iceland to be with Adam made me think Flores would have a minimal presence if the show returned for a third season. Flores worked with what the writers gave her, and I commend her for putting in her best, even though there was nothing famous or lovely about Cassie’s life.

On to Jordan Wilder/Michaels (Keith Powers) who gave an emotional performance in every scene but had the most frustrating storyline of all. I hated it so much because this has been done many times with black men on television. There are a lot of black actors in Hollywood who were/are not troubled or came/come from chaotic homes to end up murdering their mother’s abusive boyfriends. Many black male actors do not sleep with managers to get ahead, they put in the work and grind for years to get where they are in their acting careers, and their stories are not always so monochromatic. I was okay in season one with the direction the show chose with Jordan and Nina (Perrey Reeves) even though I eye-rolled it all the time. My hope was, the writers would dig deep into the pathology of how Jordan ended up in this situation, but we got none of that. The show decided to pretend that Jordan was not a minor when he started his relationship with Nina and completely avoided exploring the consequences of this relationship; especially concerning the power dynamics between a younger black man and an older white woman in an influential position.

This affair was a great story that would have highlighted a different aspect of abuse that goes on in the industry. If you are going deal with such a familiar but very troubling storyline, my unsolicited opinion would be to go big or go home. Throughout season one the show made us love the brother-like relationship between Jordan, and Rainer (Carter Jenkins) had. The fans knew how devastating it would be for Rainer to find out about his mother Nina and Jordan’s relationship. We get into season two and, other than Rainer kicking Jordan out from events they came across each other, the conflict was never adequately addressed. I needed these two to talk about what happened and how it would affect their relationship going forward. By the end of the ten episodes, they were back to supporting each other without taking us through their journey to reconciliation. All we got was Jordan saving Rainer from a drunken stupor and bringing him to his alcoholics anonymous meeting once, and they were back to season one best friends.

In season one Jordan was trying to get cast on “Locked” at the start of season two he had filmed a movie, which he was so great in to warrant awards, but we knew very little of it. By the end of season two, Jordan had been acquitted of murder, received an Emmy and got a nomination for an Oscar. The only thing we saw happening to some extent was his murder “case” which I don’t even think qualifies to be called that but sure let us go with the “case” I was confused by this timeline, and I choose not to subject myself to re-watching twenty episodes to connect the dots. Another relationship that was very disappointing was Jordan with Marisol (Janiz Valdez); whom I loved and was rooting for in a big way. Power and Valdez had electrifying chemistry, and their scenes were sweet, calm and real. Marisol brought the best out of Jordan so, you can imagine how disheartening it was when the writers chose to “rekindle” what Tangey (Pepi Sonuga) and Jordan had and sideline Marisol. Why bring in a character to help change the narrative of one of your main cast then get rid of them for the same old story?

Season two began with a major betrayal from Alexis (Niki Koss) whom Tangey considered a sister as well as a confidante. The first two episodes build up a good narrative for these two women and how they were going to deal with their broken relationship after the meddling by Ida but, did we get to see this handled? I don’t think so. There was one confrontation between Tangey and Alexis, and everyone moved on despite Alexis’s continued pursuit to make amends. Koss was absent in several episodes, and at the end, we only saw Alexis manipulate Tangey into getting her out of the mess she had put herself in by joining forces with Ida (Vanessa A. Williams). The scene in the finale episode where Alexis and Sloane (Sofia Carson) tricked Tangey into thinking Alexis had had a mental break down was cringe-worthy and unnecessary. Sonuga wasted an emotional performance on a character that for the entire season caused Tangey a constant headache. Sonuga is a great musician, and I enjoyed the few times they let her sing on a couple of episodes.

Tangey's fragile relationship with Ida was heartbreaking to watch, but they supported each other whenever it mattered. I wondered though why she got paired with Pablo (Romeo Miller) who was dead weight every time he showed up on screen. He started off as a nice guy, but then he became obnoxiously controlling and jealous. Their relationship was also sprung on us from left field after seeing them briefly in one or two episodes. I get that a lot of these stories happen off screen but give the viewers something that they can connect with if you want them invested in the relationship you are trying to sell. Tangey ran to Jordan every chance she got, and it was clear she cared more for him than she did Pablo. If Pablo's presence was to make her story complex, then it failed because there was never any indication previously that Tangey had dated an abusive boyfriend for the viewer to perceive the situation with Pablo as a pattern. If it was to show that this was common in Hollywood, then it was old news. Everyone has been talking about physical and sexual abuse in the entertainment industry for almost a year now. If this was an exit strategy for Miller from the show, then it worked.

Koss’s character didn’t have an exciting storyline in season one. In season two, it was not hot either. Koss was barely in any episodes, and the ones she was in were nothing to write home about but, she deserves a sentence or two. The reality show she was filming titled "Alexilicious" didn't seem to have a beginning or an end. It disappeared in the air but made a return with a mention from Ida of it getting renewed for a season two. Does anyone remember how Alexis was sort of a “producer” for Jake's movie and she looked so well put together in a fake kind of way? Well, the Alexis from season two had no idea of those credentials or that she had a part in getting Jake's film off the ground. The show gave us a drunk out of control or maybe “faking it” traitor, who betrayed her best friend to score a reality show. No one can tell what was going on with Alexis other than Ida whom most of the time was seen reminding Alexis who the boss was in the business arrangement. Alexis was no longer famous or in love; she needed to be on a game show to win some money for all the dreadful fake things she did to get out of Ida’s grip.

My favorite person on this show was Jake one hundred percent. He was a nice guy that did not deserve the wishy-washy relationships the show threw at him. In the first season, he was Paige’s best friend who harbored feelings for her. Not to say that she didn’t feel anything for him because many times they exchanged longing looks at each other, and the two of them also had decent chemistry. Jake was ambitious and knew what he wanted in his life even when it came to Paige. His goal from the beginning was to become a successful director. The writers made sure Jake was a timid follower of the women, who had enough drama to fill a stadium. In season two DePew was mainly around the new lady, Billy as well as his girlfriend Paige who was not on the same page with him. Jake and Paige were not supposed to be endgame if you followed the plot of the show, so it made sense to introduce a new love interest for him to spur that, but it didn’t work. It took the entire season to get to Jake and Paige’s separation. The buildup was utterly predictable despite Billy acting oblivious of what was happening between Jake and her. I wonder what would have happened if the show got a third season, maybe Lee would have been upped to a series regular but then who would the show drop, Thorne maybe?

One cannot discuss this show and Rainer without talking about his mother Nina, who was the primary driver behind whatever ounce of success Rainer had. His story in season one was of a wealthy, spoilt, however kind, son of a Hollywood executive. In other words, there was a little depth to Rainer Devon, and Jenkins did a great job shifting between the different personas. Jenkins grabbed me in the pilot episode, his performance in the audition scene with Thorne was intense, and it made me get hooked on the show. His relationship with his mother was also palatable in season one until he found out about her affair with his best friend slash frenemy which drove him back to alcohol. In season two Jenkins had the shakiest weak story in the entire show. Even after shocking viewers with the Allan (Shawn Christian) as Rainer’s dad bombshell, the show didn’t try at all to show us how the two characters managed to shelve the betrayal by Nina to have a decent relationship. Rainer met a girl Harper (Danielle Campbell) in rehab and started dating her even though she had the same controlling tendencies like his mother. The show had also introduced a second love interest to shake things up in Rainer’s life, but after one or two episodes, Sloane got relegated to Alexis’s side kick which Carson embraced and gave the character the little energy that made her annoy viewers. I liked how Sloane was presented as pompous in her first scene on the show, but then she dwindled into a high school meanie pretty fast.

Rainer spent most of season two fighting with his controlling mother or doing some laughable charity work that his girlfriend Harper was running. Campbell was great in this role, and in my reviews, I mentioned many times how much I liked her. She was as conniving as Nina, and her madness pushed Rainer even further away from his mother and his friends. Rainer and Paige managed to reconnect, or somewhat the writers pulled all stops to have them in the same room looking at each other in every episode. It was baffling how every episode in season two Rainer and Paige had different interactions that had utterly confusing emotions. One can say that they wanted to be together but the outbursts Rainer had after his rehab stint were borderline mean and abusive towards Paige. The end of the season Rainer and Paige seemed to have fallen back in love or maybe decided to take things slow, which we would have seen if there was a season three and Thorne came back to the show.

When we met Thorne's character Paige in season one, she was a sweet, naive college going girl from Oregon who wasn’t sure if acting was what she wanted to do. She was green in every sense about how things worked in Hollywood. The poor girl didn’t even know she needed a lawyer to look over her contract after she booked “Locked” and Nina, who was the producer of the movie supplied her with a legal team. Every dumb person knows that there is nothing free in the entertainment industry. If/when you are given things much is expected from you. Her pseudo-relationship with Rainer was hinted at in season one particularly after that emotional audition the two had. It was rather apparent that they were meant to be together on the show. Paige remained steadfast in her pursuit of getting a college education and keeping her friends close but by the end of season one she was a celebrity that paparazzi was chasing around to photograph. In season two she had grown some spine and managed to fire the team Nina had put together for her. She also hired the lone woman from that group as her manager. This personality change was rather quick considering the time that had passed was merely a few months, so this new Paige was odd. It was also interesting to see Paige buy a large home before the movie started filming. Where did she get the money? I had no idea that a first-time actor with no prior experience could get a check upfront that was enough to buy a million dollar home in Los Angeles but, what do I know?

I understand that the book had a stalker storyline, but the show could have easily skipped over that part of the book and done something fresh. I and many others were able to foretell quick enough who the stalker was. No matter how much the writers tried to add twists and turn, it was clear as daylight to any keen viewer. The cheating storyline was also a stretch. Deception was not beyond Paige, but it felt out of character. Cheating with an ex-boyfriend Eddie (Liam Johnson)that she hadn’t seen for many years was a new low. Eddie was the final push to her break up with Jake and also as a twist to the stalker situation. The scene where Cassie was trying to research on Eddie had me rolling my eyes, but I give it to the casting director because the physicality of Shane (Mark Grossman) and Eddie was spot on, and it could have worked for a drunk viewer watching that particular episode. The whole season was gearing up to the eventual death of the Paige, and Jake relationship and the rekindling of the Rainer and Paige "cute" romance, but the delivery was unexciting. Others would argue that the hook up didn’t even happen since Paige decided that she was the one leaving Hollywood after Rainer’s exit didn’t quite happen. Having read all the rumors about Thorne’s "diva-like" behavior on set as well as her "request" to be taken off the show, it makes sense that the writers actually wrote a subtle ending for Paige. If the show had a season three, then it would have been easier to completely write Paige off and move the story forward with other characters who were more compelling hence deserving these several paragraphs in my goodbye piece.

Famous In Love is a show that had so much potential, but it disastrously fell off the roadside in season two. I hate to blame acting when shows don’t do well because the reality is; countless times, the actors have no choice but to work with what is on the script. They have to try their best to be authentic to the characters and the writing. So, all the blame goes to the writing which failed in keeping me and others interested enough in the craziness to want to keep cheering for famous. I am quite sure that the show is not getting another home but, I could be proven wrong. I'll be watching if it happens because God knows I love punishing myself with terrible television shows.

Thanks for reading my reviews this season, I'll be back with reviews of Kenya Barris's new Freeform show "BESTIES"

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