Reality television is a morally bankrupt but successful genre, but a television show that puts those traits on full display makes for a clever and fantastic concept.
UnREAL tells the story of ‘Everlasting’, a ‘Bachelor’ analogue that has been running for multiple seasons. The show picks up at the beginning of the season where returning producer Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby) is back at work after a full tilt meltdown on the shows previous season. Her boss Quinn King (Constance Zimmer), has pulled Rachel back because Rachel is damn good at her job, which is creating content for ‘Everlasting’. In this world content means manipulating contestants and nudging the narrative where the show wants things to go.
This current season of ‘Everlasting’ has 25 women competing for the affections of Adam Cromwell (Freddie Stroma) a charming British playboy who has spent some time as tabloid fodder and is looking to change his image. Right from the first night Quinn and Rachel start planning out how the show is going to develop over the season. They find their ‘villain’ in the outspoken Britney, their ‘hot mom’ in Mary, a divorced single mother with an abusive ex-husband, and their suitable ‘wifeys’ in Anna, Faith, and Grace. A monkey wrench is thrown into the plans that first night when Britney is eliminated and Quinn orders Rachel and the other producers (each of whom are assigned a few of the contestants to handle) to find content and angles to use to keep things interesting.
The strength of the series comes from behind the camera in the relationships of the production crew. Quinn has an on/off relationship with Chet (Craig Bierko) who is the co-creator of ‘Everlasting’ and also married. Rachel’s ex-boyfriend Jeremy still works on the show, along with his new girlfriend. Quinn’s method of using anything and everything to create ‘content’ may seem harsh, but it is enabled by Rachel, who is amazing at carrying out her boss’ directive. Rachel convinces Adam to accompany a contestant to her father’s funeral after he dies while she is filming the show. Quinn and Rachel bring Mary’s cretin of an ex-husband onto the show to make Mary look favorable to the audience after the network voices their concerns that she is ‘too old’ for the show.
The writing is top notch, the subjects they cover are topical and handled in a very blunt manner. The chemistry between Quinn and Rachel is amazing as while they are boss and subordinate, they need each other. Quinn believes in Rachel, that is why she bought her back to the show. Rachel is a great producer, she keeps multiple plates spinning, makes abhorrent decisions in the name of ‘good television’, but is always keeping one eye on her mentor.
UnREAL‘s second season looks to be just as captivating and intriguing as Quinn moves into the executive producer role while Rachel is promoted to showrunner, Quinn’s old position. ‘Everlasting’ will also introduce the show’s first black suitor in Darius Hill (B. J. Britt), something even The Bachelor hasn’t had the temerity to present. It is also worth noting that UnREAL was a recipient of The Peabody Award in 2015.
Season 1 of UnREAL is now available on Hulu
Season 2 of UnREAL premieres Monday June 6 @ 10pm on Lifetime