Freeform has taken up the mantle of soapy young adult dramas that were previously the domain of Fox, the WB, and the CW. And as their stalwart, Pretty Little Liars, comes to an end, Freeform turned to that show's showrunner I. Marlene King to replenish their bench. Much like Pretty Little Liars, Famous in Love is based on a book. This time the novel is written by Rebecca Serle, who is also contributing to the series.
The show follows college student Paige, played by Disney Channel alum Bella Thorne as she gets her big break after auditioning for the starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster. We know that she will become a megastar, thanks to a foreshadowed introduction, but the series promises to tell us the tale of how she got there without shying away from the details of what must become a complicated love life in the process.
The cast is divided into two groups, with Paige stuck right in the middle. There are the Hollywood types which includes her costars, producer, and women she beat for the role. They are, except for fleeting glimpses of humanity, unlikable. On the other side is her best friend Cassandra and roomate/love interest Jake. One would presume that keeping her real friends in an unreal world will be one of Paige's obstacles in the coming episodes.
The ugliness of Hollywood can sometimes make the show hard to watch. Luckily Thorne is a bright spot. Despite having already had a long career in "the business" for someone her age, she maximizes the likeability of her character. That means the show hinges on her remaining likeable. Otherwise she joins the din of the rest of the ensamble.
While I could only get through one episode, Freeform is following the model they started with Beyond, by releasing all the episodes at once online and through the Freeform app. On TV, each of the first season's ten episodes will be released on a weekly basis. Freeform said this strategy worked well for Beyond, but I don't quite understand why you would want to watch an episode 10 weeks later on TV, when it is available instantly online.
Famous in Love is exactly what you would expect. For those that know they won't like it, the only surprise would be the strength of Ms. Thorne's performance. Those that are looking for a guilty pleasure, here it is.