It’s weird to describe a main cast member as a “breakout star,” but Carter Jenkins has delivered such an incredible performance week after week in his second season as Rainer Devon on Famous in Love that he deserves the title. Ahead of this week’s season two finale, I want to discuss Rainer’s recent journey as a way to highlight Carter’s noteworthy acting.
It’s hard not to find ourselves crushing on Carter as he excels at playing the Hollywood heartthrob with his dazzling smile and the chivalrous demeanor that is Rainer Devon. However, Rainer has never been one-dimensional. Season two is proof of that, as we’ve seen him take a much darker and different path compared to season one.
There was a time jump between where season one ended and where season two began. At the start of season two, viewers learned Paige did not pick Rainer and he checked himself back into rehab.
Not only has Rainer always struggled with alcohol addiction, but he’s always implied he’s an addict in every facet of his life. From the moment he left rehab he struggled with how to move forward and embrace his sobriety, despite claiming otherwise.
His new girlfriend Harper, who he met in rehab of all places, is an influential factor in his continuous struggle throughout season two.
It takes Rainer most of the season to realize Harper is toxic for him. In episode five he has his suspicions, telling her she doesn’t seem to care about him or “the triggers that landed [him] in rehab in the first place.” His slip-up in episode 7? Ultimately triggered by Harper and the fact that she is nowhere to be found when he needs to talk. As of episode 9, the latest episode to air, Rainer has finally had enough of Harper’s mistreatment. “She’s using me to get back into acting,” he tells Paige. “She’s just as manipulative as my mother. I trusted her.”
Switching gears, I can’t talk about Rainer’s journey this season without talking about one of my favorite ships on television: Raige.
While Harper has done nothing but be a toxic presence in Rainer’s life, Paige has done nothing but support him. I’ve always loved Raige for how deeply they care for one another ever since they met. He has always looked out for her best interests, even when he wanted to hate her for not picking him. She has always been concerned about him, even when he wouldn’t see her when she came to visit him in rehab.
Despite not ending up together at the end of season one, I honestly don’t think Rainer and Paige could have gotten any closer this season. They had a great friendship in season one, but I always felt they needed to open up with each other a little more before they entered a romantic relationship of any sorts, which is why I was always okay with the fact she didn’t pick him at the end of season one.
I’ve also always said Rainer and Paige had a mutual understanding. He sees a lot of himself in her, someone who originally got into the industry for the love of craft but now must face the hardship and reality of being a “celebrity.”
Paige’s newfound discomfort with her celebrity is similar to the questioning Rainer has done of his career in season two. After freeing himself from Nina’s control, he finally has agency over his own profession. He’s never experienced this level of freedom, yet he’s not even sure he still wants to be an actor. In the last moments of episode 9, Rainer leaves Paige on a private jet telling her he can’t “deal with these manipulative people” anymore, specifically talking about Harper and Nina but also talking about all of Hollywood in general.
I still have a lot of questions heading into the finale: Will Rainer quit acting for good? Will he send Harper packing? Where does Raige stand after all of their adorable moments in episode 9? What I’m not questioning: Carter’s excellent acting this season. He’s made me empathize with Rainer more than I thought possible. When Rainer feels conflicted, I feel at a loss. When Rainer’s happy, I’m over-the-moon thrilled for him.
His standout scene of the season, by far, is when Rainer takes his first sip of alcohol after being out of rehab for a couple of weeks. Hardly any words are spoken, but the scene feels raw and emotional. As a viewer, I can feel Rainer’s struggle with whether or not to take a sip. Once he finally does, he feels free and relaxed, like the weight of the world is no longer on his shoulder.
Carter has shown through Rainer’s rollercoaster journey in season two that he can hold his own with the best of the best. I’m excited to see what kind of performance he delivers in the season two finale and however many seasons of Famous in Love Freeform decides to bless us with in the future.