Few days go by when I don't wonder what it's like to be famous. Not because I myself wish to become the subject of the headlines I write, or have millions of followers on every social media channel, but because it is both a fascinating gift and a curse. The double-edged sword of fame is as alluring as it is intimidating, and no one knows that more than Paige Townsen, a cross between Bella Swan and IRL Bella Thorne, and the main character in Freeform's new addicting teen series Famous in Love.
With the words "Freeform," "Bella Thorne" and "famous" all mixed together, you probably have an inkling of what kind of show to expect here. Need a hint? It's also from the executive producer of Pretty Little Liars, so it's safe to say that it's going to go over very well with fans of the juicy teen drama . The series premieres on Freeform April 18 at 9 p.m., and (in a unconventional move), the network has also decided to upload the rest of the first season immediately to Freeform.com, On Demand, and Hulu, so hooked viewers can immediately binge the rest of the season. (Though Entertainment Weekly has deemed Famous in Love "too annoying to binge and not addictive enough to warrant waiting a week between episodes.")
Still, the show is still a fun guilty pleasure to dive into. Fans of the book series of the same name upon which the series is based, you'll notice some pretty glaring differences, but in the end it's close enough — with many more salacious twist and turns. In addition to new hook-ups and plot twists, the show is also heavy on cameos from YouTube stars, B-level names, and an array of other semi-famous people, making it a one-stop shop to fulfill all your cheesy Hollywood desires.
So, let's get started and finally see just how famous in love Paige Townsen becomes.
Episode 1 — "Pilot"
Paige Townsen is just your typical SoCal college student who lives with her two best friends, Cassie (Georgie Flores), a spunky and unfiltered brunette with a surprising secret pastime, and Jake (Charlie DePew), a fit, budding screenwriter and director who harbors feelings for Paige. The three of them are just the best of friends, and everything seems hunky-dory, which means that they won't be for long. Given her advanced economic courses and obsession (OBSESSION) with school, clearly Paige is supposed to be bookish (but with perfect eye lashes and hair). Her parents always told her that a good education is the key to any career, and she lives and breathes by this creed.
One day, Cassie gets wind of an open audition for the role of August Roch (not to be confused with August Rush), the lead character in a super popular book series, Locked, and suggests that she and Paige go audition just for shits and giggles. (This show gets super meta.) But, despite their fooling around, Paige actually delivers an A+ audition (watch out, Emma Stone) and wows the producers, who call her back to read with one of the leading men of the film: former child star and resident Hollywood bachelor, Rainer Devon (Carter Jenkins). His mom, Nina (Perrey Reeves), also happens to be in charge of the film's production. It's clear from the moment we meet her that she is as aggressive as she is manipulative, but she puts on a good front — especially in front of her not-too-smart son.
As Paige gets closer to landing the lead role, we are introduced to a raven-haired mean girl, Alexis (Niki Koss) who also happens to be Ashley Benson's doppelgånger. Alexis used to star a TV show with Rainer and another popular actor, bad boy Jordan Wilder (Keith Powers — my favorite character), and had her sights set on playing August because she is broke as a joke and can't land any roles. It's clear that a girl-feud between the two young actresses is brewing. Meanwhile, there's a bro-battle in the mix with the wedge between Jordan and Rainer getting deeper and deeper due to gossip headlines reporting that Rainer's ex-girlfriend, Tangey Turner (Pepi Sonuga), hooked up with Jordan behind Rainer's back. They've all been in show biz for a while so you know there' s murky back story to it all that we don't know — yet.
And would you believe it, little ole Paige Townsen landed the role of a lifetime! Truly incredible. Her make-out scene and chemistry with Rainer, who will play one of her love interests and Jordan, who will play the other, just stole the hearts of everyone in the room. (Plus — they could hire her for a lot less than another real actress.) She is well on her way to becoming famous! By the end of the episode, Paige is walking a red carpet into a night club, debuting as August Roch,while secretly freaking out because: homework. Oh, and Jordan is sleeping with Rainer's mom, which is why he has a role in Locked.
So, how Famous in Love is Paige Townsen on a scale of Disney Channel extra (1) to Jennifer Lawrence (10)?
2 — Her name may be in lights outside the club, but no one knows who the eff she is.
Episode 2 — “A Star is Torn”
Let’s do a quick rivalry recap: there’s Rainer versus Jordan, Alexis versus Paige (although Paige doesn’t totally know it yet), and Jake versus Rainer (although Rainer doesn’t totally know it yet). But what fun are three feuds when you can have four? Nina (Rainer’s mom, who is secretly sleeping with his ex-best bro, Jordan) is embroiled in battle with a little celebrity blogger whose YouTube videos appear to run the town’s tabloid scene — our own millennial Hedda Hopper.
Very quickly into the episode, we are reminded just how famous Paige is getting (example: “She’s gonna be a big star!”), but Paige still is prioritizing her education over all the glitz and glamour because she is #humble. She meets with Nina to tell her that she refuses to drop out of school, to which Nina replies, “Being a movie star isn’t a choice.” While Paige is complaining about becoming too famous to finish her econ class, her poor friend Cassie is getting herself into some trouble with an unnamed and unknown older man whose house she keeps visiting. It’s clear she is doing something for him, but we don’t know what until the end of the episode, when we realize she is cleaning his house, topless, fulfilling a strange fetish that I’m sure exists in L.A. Later, we learn that this sketch man is not only a Somebody in Hollywood, he is Nina’s former boss and they still have major beef.
Speaking of beef: Tangey is stirring a pot of her own by telling her ex, Rainer, that Jordan is “ten times the man” he will ever be. Ouch. Definitely fresh wounds all around, but we still don’t know WHY they hate each other so much. It’s becoming clear that Rainer is very self-absorbed, enough so not to notice that his ex-best bro and current nemesis is consistently sleeping with Rainer’s own mom in a totally creepy “Stacey’s Mom” kind of way.
Things aren’t going so well for Paige either, as she tries to “rip the tags off” her budding relationship with Jake. They make googly eyes at each other from across the kitchen for what feels like hours until Jake cuts it off clean — to save his friend (and unspoken love) from the stress of dealing with a boyfriend while also transitioning from a nobody to a very famous person. Paige is getting really stressed because she has to tell her parents that she is about to be Famous, but is scared that they will disown her for putting school on the back burner. While attending a super swanky event (her real public debut), Paige’s flirtation with Rainer reaches a head when she realizes that she can trust him to look out for her during this major life change. (They make a secret hand motion to signify when Paige feels overwhelmed and needs Rainer to step in — sweet.) It’s only a matter of time before the tabloids pick up on this growing on-screen friendship.
Paige finally spills the beans after her parents catch her coming home from the premiere, which went splendidly, as she is introduced as the “new face in Hollywood”. Of course her mom is a huge fan of the book, and her dad is not so happy (which I get but, like, come on dad). She promises them she will balance school and fame (ha!) and as she does, a girl approaches her table, and asks for Paige’s autograph. “Paige, this is incredible! You are famous already!” her mom gushes, ecstatically.
So, how “famous in love” is Paige Townsen on a scale of Disney Channel extra (1) to Jennifer Lawrence (10)?
4 — She signed her first autograph! Although at this point, she is mostly known as August, her Locked character, and not as Paige herself, so she still has a ways to go.
Episode 3 — “Not So Easy A"
With her parents sort-of blessing, Paige is starting to make major strides toward becoming the famous actress that everyone knows she was destined to be — while STILL worrying about her econ paper! Nina pressures Paige again to put her acting career first (“Are you too busy to be the star of a major motion picture?!” she yells, exasperated. Paige’s answer? No, it’s just… school. We know Paige, we know.) But even though it’s pretty obvious that Nina isn’t a huge fan of Paige, but she is a fan of how naive she is. Paige meets with an agent and squeals in delight over how much she is being paid for the role, but it’s obvious she is getting screwed over and doesn’t know it.
During a “ Vanity Fair teaser spread” photo shoot (think Twilight prom but with high-speed fans blowing in their hair), Paige decides to make things right between her and Jake. You see, in a fit of jealousy, Paige accidentally ruined Jake’s chances of having his script read by one of Alexis’ connections, and she feels really guilty about it. To appease the situation, she decides to suck up to Alexis in order to guarantee Jake a meeting with a Hollywood exec. (Aw.) Alexis takes full advantage of this and makes Paige switch dresses with her during the shoot, and even do menial tasks just to embarrass her. It’s like Hollywood hazing, and it’s mean, but probably a very real thing in the actual show biz. It works, though — but a little too well. Alexis offers to help Jake with the script, personally (wink, wink), and the two head off to the desert together. Paige is pissed, but not too pissed because her crush on Rainer is reaching exponential levels. Every time they see each other (which is a lot) they act like they are seeing each other for the first time. It is equal parts cute and obnoxious. When he isn’t making moves on Paige, Rainer is slowly, but surely, mending his relationship with Jordan. The two exchange apologies and watch the sunset together while drinking Izzy in a total Seth Cohen and Ryan Atwood moment of bromance.
But of course, trouble is brewing somewhere in Tinseltown and Nina is the one stirring the cauldron. Jordan’s big secret is that he is being blackmailed by a middle-aged woman who could be an ex, a relative, or just about anyone. She demands $50,000 or else she is exposing him to the world (aka the YouTube gossip mill). But Nina can’t have that, so she sets up the woman by hiding a bag of white powder (cocaine?) in her car, and then calling the police on her. The woman goes to jail, and Nina looks smug AF (which is ironic, because earlier in the episode Nina convinces Rainer to take a major pay cut for his lead role in order to keep the movie afloat, but he soon realizes that he took the pay cut so that Jordan could get extra money — no one knows Nina and Jordan are sleeping together).
Oh, and the woman arrested? It was Jordan’s mom! Ah!
So, how “famous in love” is Paige Townsen on a scale of Disney Channel extra (1) to Jennifer Lawrence (10)?
5 — Paige does get to wear Jennifer Lawrence’s red Oscar dress for a minute before Alexis demands it off her back, which is close to being JLawr, but not enough to be famous. Also, please remember that she still hasn’t SHOT ANY SCENES FOR THE MOVIE YET.
Episode 4 — “Prelude To Diss”
“I really like her — she’s special,” this is what Rainer says about Paige, early on in episode 4, which is really something considering I think a total of about three days have gone by since the two first met. But, it’s time to put cynicism behind because we finally get to see Bella Thorne acting as Paige Townsen acting as August Roch. Phew — four episodes in and we finally get to the meta goodness of the series.
We haven’t checked in with Cassie for a minute, but things are not looking so hot for her (even though I love her flirtation with Cute Production Assistant, Adam, who you might recognize as Bearded Poetry Man from 13 Reasons Why). Cassie doesn’t have enough money for tuition, and as a result starts cleaning more houses topless. Yikes, girl! Jake and Alexis are basically a couple (which upsets Alexis' ex-girlfriend, another actress on the set of the film).
While Cassie is barely holding it together, Paige is on the set of Locked — stage 9 — making all the magic happen. It’s a $200 million movie, and, in the words of the film’s director, Wyatt: “THERE 281 PEOPLE IN THE CREW AND YOU’RE THE STAR OF THIS ONE PAIGE.” No pressure, right? Luckily, on set, Paige has Rainer by her side to defend her and give her presents. He gives her a necklace with a “P” on it and asks her on a legitimate date. Paige refuses, because she doesn’t want to just be another notch on his belt, or a letter on his long list of necklace-receiving girlfriends. (“Selena got an ‘S’, Tangey got a ‘T’ and I guess I’m just the next letter in line” a pouty Paige tells her broke and struggling friend, Cassie.) Speaking of Tangey, she is head over heels in lust with Jordan, but the poor guy doesn't have time for that because he is freaking out over his mom, Rainer's mom, and the fact that all the women in his life are batshit crazy.
So, how “famous in love” is Paige Townsen on a scale of Disney Channel extra (1) to Jennifer Lawrence (10)?
7 — She's famous enough to receive a letter necklace from Rainer Devon, and she appears on Conan.
Episode 5 — “Some Like It Not”
It’s Paige’s birthday, and she is still working on her econ paper. All she wants is margaritas with her two best friends (the Three Amigos made up), but instead she has a lousy day of working on her million dollar movie — on her birthday! Ugh. On set, Paige is told that her big tap dance routine duet with Rainer has been moved up because of scheduling, so the two of them will need to practice all night to get the moves down. Paige cancels her marg plans and agrees since she is walking on eggshells ever since she cost the film an extra $25,000 for a bad day on set earlier in the week. Even though she turned down Rainer’s proposal for a date, the two are still lusting after each other hardcore. Their steamy chemistry propels Rainer to make one final grand gesture to impress Paige once and for all. Secretly, with the help of the cast and Cassie, Rainer plans a glamorous surprise party at his bachelor pad for Paige. There’s balloons, there’s a champagne tower, there’s a special sparkly cake — and it’s all for her. It’s a perfect event. In fact, it’s almost perfect enough to make Paige forget about the fact that her econ professor refused to take her term paper late, which means she will most likely fail the class. (Her excuse? She’s busy making a “big movie” — her professor is less than impressed and tells her to leave her office.) Paige spends the night at Rainer’s in his bed (he sleeps on the couch) and then they go for breakfast. She totally loves him.
Love is really in the air, as Jordan finally embraces Tangey’s advances and the two intensely make out by Rainer’s pool (Jordan is staying with him now), but little do they know that Nina has hired a photographer to take incriminating pictures of them to use at her disposal. Always schemin’, Nina. Throughout the episode, Jordan instills a sense of confidence in Tangey and tells her to pursue the type of music she loves (which doesn’t include her awful “Heart Eyes” song for Locked about the heart eyes emoji). She stands up to her mother, Ida (Vanessa Williams), who is also her manager, and reveals her desire to enter the world of country music (LOL). In response, Ida cuts her daughter off financially and promises her that her career will be over without her guidance (“I made you!”).
After that scene, it was only inevitable that the two mean moms would team up — while the kids are partying the night away at Paige’s party (and Jake is with Alexis, who actually helped him sell his script to an indie film company), Nina and Ida have a secret meeting. Their goal? To reveal Jordan’s huge secret: that his his mother, Brandy (Tanjareen Thomas) the woman now behind bars due to Nina’s manipulative stunt, is alive. Apparently, Jordan’s entire career had been centered around a narrative that he was motherless because she had died years ago. But, she was alive and blackmailing him this whole time. Sus. Ida rejoices at the news because she wants Tangey to be broken and come crawling back to her.
So, Jake’s with Alexis who is probably screwing him over by selling his script and weaseling her way into the project. Rainer’s earned Paige’s affection. Tangey and Jordan are blissfully reunited. Cassie hooks up with Adam The Cute Production Assistant. What am I missing… oh, yeah — Nina has never revealed to Rainer who his real dad is, and it’s her new boss and enemy, Hollywood executive Alan Mills.
3 — If you’re not famous enough to get an extension on a college paper, you ain’t famous.
Episode 6 — “Found in Translation”
Still high off her birthday extravaganza (“Best. Birthday. Ever.”) — and still wearing Rainer’s oversized gray Lakers T-shirt — Paige agrees to go on an impromptu trip to Vegas with Rainer. (She plans to study on the plane, don’t worry.) But, plans change when Jake attends a daytime study group turned party and finds Cassie cleaning his friend’s apartment as a topless maid (that’s her official title). Cassie runs off, embarrassed, and hides away at Cute PA Adam’s place while her shame subsides and she figures out what she wants to do with her life. Jake immediately tells Paige, and together they try to find their best friend and get the low-down on what’s been going on with her. Each of them had been so caught up in their own lives (Jake’s script, Paige’s movie) that they weren’t seeing the signs that their friend needed help. While jaunting around campus and their local haunts, Jake and Paige reconcile their friendship (again) and start making googly eyes at each other (again). Cassie eventually comes home after, and tinkers with the idea of becoming Paige’s assistant on set for extra money (awk).
Meanwhile, Rainer jets off to Hong Kong at the request, nay, demand of his pushy mother because they are afraid Locked won’t get distributed in China due to the spiritual element of the film. (To be honest, I have no clue what Locked is actually about, just that at one point Paige will kissing both Rainer and Jordan.) As Rainer and Nina head to their private plane, Alan Mills jumps in, making it a full-on family affair, except Rainer and Alan still don’t know they're related. They succeed by agreeing to cast a rising Chinese actress in the role of a sorceress-type character, which was originally promised to Tangey. As soon as he finishes talking to his boss/dad, Rainer jets off to Vegas to meet Paige and Cassie, only to find out that Paige isn’t going to come. She literally hangs up on him when he reminds her that he already paid for everything for her, which is kind of rude but also a total power move. I think he’ll be a little pissed at her.
Jordan reluctantly bails his mom out of jail, and we finally learn a little more about why he lied about his mother being alive. Back in the day, Jordan and his mom used to pull tricks and schemes together, and when they got caught, his mom took the blame (the specifics of what for, we don’t know) and served five years in jail to protect her son. While she was incarcerated, his career took off, so she feels like her son owes her — a lot. At the end of the episode, she agrees to leave, and her and J, as she calls him, appear to end things on a positive note. She makes him a grilled cheese (burnt) and they reminisce on all the old tricks they used to pull. Except, when Jordan returns home with Rainer after picking up the ditched actor at the airport, they find that someone has straight up robbed Rainer’s abode.
“Son of a bitch.”
4.8 — Paige didn’t do anything to make her more famous, but she was told that as the “star of a major motion picture” she’s allowed to have up to THREE assistants. That’s pretty legit.
Episode 7 — “Secrets & Pies”
As the title promises, this episode is legitimately full of secrets and pies. Paige finally figures out a way to be both an entitled actress and an A+ student by bartering with her professor to get a better grade in the class. (She promises a set tour of Locked and selfies with Jordan and Rainer for her prof’s 13-year-old daughter and best friend, and it works.) Welcome to the hustle, girl. But not everything is dandy for Paige. Thinking she’s helping, Paige sets up Cassie with a job as her assistant on set, but Cassie hates the idea. The whole situation causes a huge rift in their friendship when Cassie bitterly confronts Paige saying she stole her dream right out from under her by winning the role on Locked: “I don’t want to watch you live out my dream, day after day after day, don’t you get that?”
Alexis is also hustling her way around Hollywood with Jake’s script, which is constantly being changed against his will — he’s not nervous about it yet, but he should be. At the request of the indie film company who purchased Jake’s script, Alexis (who is, remember, also a producer on the project) gives a copy of the script to her ex-girlfriend, Rachel Davis, who was cut from the cast of Locked. The two reconcile their working friendship (and maybe more…), and Rachel shares her plan to kick Jake off the project and hire a well-known playwright to rewrite the entire script. Tangey learns she is booted off Locked in favor of a Chinese actress named Xu YiFei (Brianne Tju) at about the same time that Paige learns that Rainer is also using Xu to make Paige jealous. She confronts him about it, and following an emotional tap dance practice, Paige and Jordan’s stalled relationship seems to have heated right back up.
Back at Rainer’s still empty house, Jordan, Tangey and his mom, Brandy, have an interesting confrontation when Jordan admits to Tangey that he lied about his past. Jordan, the truth-teller of the day, also opens up to Rainer about his intense relationship with his mom and shares the story of Aiden, an Irish grifter whom Jordan accidentally killed while trying to protect his mom. At the time of the crime, his mom took the blame and went to prison for her son, which is why he told everyone in Hollywood that his parents are dead. But now, his mom has to pay back the debts of her deceased abusive partner (she says she owes the bookies nearly $1 million) or she will be killed. Rainer offers to help Jordan. (ALSO, REMEMBER THAT JORDAN HAS BEEN SLEEPING WITH RAINER’S MOM AND RAINER STILL HAS NO IDEA.) Alan Mills also figures out that Rainer is his son. Oh, and Barrett Hopper (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), the YouTube gossip king also threatens to reveal Jordan’s secrets to the world and mentions something about a “little Jordy Michaels,” which sounds like Jordan also has a mystery child himself?!
Between revelations about Jordan’s past, Alan’s new discovery, and the girls' major drama, it looks like things are about to get interesting — fast.
7.5 — She’s finally learning how to use her status as August Roch to her advantage. But she’s still not in love, so she has a ways to go.
Episode 8 — “Crazy Scripted Love”
Paige can’t get herself to cry during a pivotal scene on set, regardless of the fact that her best friend hates her. Frustrated, she vents to Rainer about her “high school” problems and continuously texts both Cassie and Jake to no avail. Cassie doesn’t respond since she’s basically disowned Paige as a friend because of her pretentiousness regarding her newfound fame, and Jake is slaving over rewrites for the script. The whole “rewrites” part is a bit uncomfortable since we learn that Jake is, indeed, being removed from the project. He freaks out upon hearing the news, crashes a meeting at the film company, and demands to get his script back. Of course, it doesn’t work, so he decides to mend his wounds in Austin, Texas, and reconsider his entire career. (Please keep in mind that he’s like, 21, and it’s a big deal to even have his script purchased at this point as a novice.)
With Cassie hiding at Adam’s (what a patient guy) and Jake running away from his problems (and Alexis, who betrayed him), Paige needs someone like Rainer to lean on now more than ever to get through her tough scenes — and her loneliness. It’s a big week for Rainer, with Paige showing him affection and Alan showing newfound interest in him, and on top of all that, he even helps get Tangey back in the movie as the time sorceress character. He tells his mom his idea to have both her and Xu star in two different versions of Locked: one statewide, and the other one internationally. Two birds, one stone. Nina loves this idea, and is pretty pleased with herself for pleasing everyone once again. This smugness lasts until Alan Mills shows up unannounced at her house to tell her he knows that he is Rainer’s father. (He even sent in one of Rainer’s hair brushes to be tested for a DNA match.) Now Alan wants to be part of his life. He threatens to tell Rainer himself if Nina doesn’t do it the moment she returns from New York.
And finally, poor Jordan. Jordan finds out he is nominated for a Golden Globe (yay!) but he can barely celebrate the achievement because he is so busy meeting with a sketchy bald man in a Bentley in order to pay off his mother’s inherited debt. He confides in Nina about the situation at hand, and she promises to help him get the money (she does) and seals the promise with a kiss. It was clear this semi-public moment of intimacy would come back to haunt the forbidden couple, because her vengeful assistant (Nina is a huge bitch to her) snaps a picture and sells it to none other than Barrett Hopper. Along with the picture, the assistant also shares a USB full of Nina’s personal emails with the celebrity gossip blogger. Barrett can finally take down Nina Devon once and for all.
With only two more episodes left in the first season, shit’s about to get real.
6.7 — She’s falling pretty hard for Rainer once again, and is clearly heartbroken over Jake, her unrequited love, leaving town.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?