When Tylynn Burns and Myami Woods initially signed up to be part of the cast of Issa Rae’s reality show Sweet Life: Los Angeles, they knew what they were getting into…sort of. The HBO Max series follows a group of real-life friends who are just trying to make it in LA — and have fun while doing it. It’s all love, but everyone knows that even the closest-knit circle of friends will deal with their fair share of drama, and the Sweet Life gang is no exception. (If anything, they were made to be on TV with the amount of hijinks they get into.)
Having grown up watching reality television themselves, LA natives Burns and Woods felt like they were somewhat equipped to step in front of the camera and live out their truths for millions to see and discuss week after week. But even after two seasons on TV, the fans’ intense reactions — which include both cheers and jeers — is a lot to deal with. Two years into this fame thing, Burns and Woods tell Unbothered via Zoom that they’re still figuring out a healthy balance between caring too much and not caring at all.
“I actually did a few meditation classes and teachings before the new season aired just to get my mind prepared for all types of opinions,” Woods laughs. And getting zen beforehand was a smart idea; as chaotic as the second season was, Sweet Life viewers didn’t hold back on social media when dissecting each eventful episode. In the latest installment of the reality series, we saw the relationships within Burns’ clique pushed to their limits as the cast opened up more about their lives and the issues that they were facing.
Burns, the heart of the group and a self-proclaimed crybaby, shed even more tears as she struggled to resolve lingering issues with her friends while also mulling over the next big step with her longtime boyfriend, Jaylenn Hart. The couple clashed over their differing views on family planning, which a vulnerable visit to a therapist revealed stems from Burns’ difficult decision to have an abortion early on in their relationship. Later, in the final episode, we see things come to a head between Burns and Hart when an explosive argument exposes their seemingly incompatible trajectories for their life together. For Burns, choosing to be so transparent about the tensions in her love life and in her friendships — and the many missteps she makes while addressing them — wasn’t an easy choice, but it was the right choice because it tells a more nuanced full picture of Tylynn, the person.
“I know who I am, my friends know who I am, and I know what I stand for,” says Burns. “And I feel like the show does a good job of showing both the good and the bad. This season was really trying to show not really necessarily the bad, but just a different part of me, exploring how accountability works (or doesn’t work) for people who have large friend groups — and I was kind of at the center of that conversation.”
I have to be graceful with my gangster. Yes, I could be a warrior with my words, but that doesn't help me grow in any way.
Burns knows that she isn’t perfect, and she knows exactly when and where she might have messed up this season. She’s trying to give herself grace, but it’s pretty hard to do when it feels like the whole internet isn’t on her side. In the days that followed the season finale, Burns shares that following the Sweet Life hashtag on social media has become increasingly difficult because of the number of mean-spirited, judgmental tweets and TikToks that she’s come across. Sure, the Tylynn conversation isn’t all bad, and even if the good outweighs the bad, the bad is really hard to get over. So yeah, a social media break might be coming very soon.
“I have to remind myself like, These people are basing you off of a show. You can't get mad that they don't know the ins and outs of who you are because they don't have context,” she chokes, wiping tears from her eyes. “But the patterns of people just switch so fast. You loved me, but now I'm just this malicious, hateful person? It's kind of hard to digest.”
“You can say one thing, and then people will take it as another,” Woods shakes her head. “But this platform is for people with tough skin, and I say that because I’ve got that. So it doesn't faze me as much, I think.”
To be fair, Woods’s storyline this season did earn her a much warmer reception from the Sweet Life audience. After initially being iced out of the group on that dramatic season 1 trip to Cabo, Woods returned to the show as a full-time cast member but without the chip on her shoulder that we expected (and would have understood) her to have. Rather than holding grudges, Woods approached the rest of the cast with an open mind and an eagerness to start over. She’s good at forgiving people — “A blessing and a curse,” she laughs wryly — and because she wants to keep the peace, Brown has no problem extending an olive branch when she could have issued a fade instead.
“I came back to Sweet Life because I just wanted to clear the air with people,” she admits. “I know we started off on the wrong foot, but we're all living in the same city, running in the same circles…we see each other, and it's awkward, you know? So I took it as my chance to show them that I'm not only this spicy girl — like, I am a sweet girl as well, and I'm a good time! I need a friend like me!”
That peaceful energy doesn’t necessarily extend to trolls, however; when it comes to people being nasty to her and her friends online, Woods wants all the smoke. (But if you do happen to be one of the “fans” who does get a stern talking to from her, just know that she's holding back.)
“It feels weird because a part of me is just kind of like, Let them talk. Ultimately, whether it's with hate or with love, they're still a supporter. And then another part of me is like, Okay, you doing too much talking,” says Woods. “I’m learning to choose my battles, you know? Honestly, I'm having difficulty with that because I'll type up a tweet knowing that my clapbacks are crazy and then remember: I have to be graceful with my gangster. Yes, I could be a warrior with my words, but that doesn't help me grow in any way.”
Thankfully, Woods and Burns have each other and the rest of their castmates to lean on when the online conversation gets a little too spicy for them to handle; Burns is happy to report that their group chat is a safe haven of memes and encouraging messages. It’s also the space where they’re currently working out any misunderstandings that might have come up while watching the season, which is amazing for them but necessarily great for Sweet Life fans because we won’t get to see how those issues are resolved in real time. There won’t be another in-person reunion to squash the beef, and Burns is actually okay with ending things on a cliffhanger, even if that means she’s the bad guy for now. Goodbye, Crylynn — hello, Villynn.
“Even if there was another Group Chat reunion, I think if I ‘cleared up’ anything, it would just be me giving context to the situations I was in — and I'm not sure if the fanbase is ready for that because they might end up finally understanding where I was coming from,” she says. “The reaction to this season showed who's on my team and who's not regarding the fanbase, and I kind of want to leave some people where they're at."
"If speaking your mind, righting your wrongs, and becoming a better person gives ‘villain,’ then yeah. It's my time," Burns smiles.