There was no logical reason for me to enjoy UnREAL. The fact that it airs on Lifetime, has a cringe-worthy title, and is a TV show about a reality TV show, were all signs that this was summer series I did not need in my life. But ten episodes later and I find myself desperately wanting to see season two right now. No, really.
The show delves into the making of a reality show called Everlasting (another word for The Bachelor) but before you roll your eyes at the ridiculous premise, you should know that Constance Zimmer (the producer Quinn) and Shiri Appleby (her lackey Rachel) are so compelling to watch right from the beginning that it soon becomes addicting television. It’s their toxic mother/daughter relationship that hooks you right from the pilot, along with their endless manipulations, scheming, lies and betrayals. If it weren’t for these two and their fantastic chemistry on-screen, there would hardly be a show to love.
The behind-the-scenes-of-a-dating-competition will immediately entertain anyone, even those who hate shows like Bachelor and Bachelorette (me being on the top of that list), because this is clearly not about the sometimes-forgettable contestants or who Freddie Stroma (the “bachelor” Adam) is going to pick at the end of the series. It’s more about what the producers are willing to do and how far they’re eager to go just to get ahead in the ratings. And seriously, the lengths they go to are often ridiculous, insanely entertaining and equally worrisome as you start questioning if that’s really the kind of stuff they pull behind the scenes on reality shows (which claim to be unscripted).
But even more-so than the manipulations, there’s definitely a lot to love about UnREAL. There’s a tight script and a range of compelling storylines involving some of the contestants (I particularly loved everything about Faith) and yes, even romance. The fact that our two protagonists are likable women who do terrible things is a plus, and the fact that in the span of ten episodes they start buying into the “true love exists” crap they’re selling on their show makes you love how layered these characters are. Even though the show is not about who’s going to win Adam’s heart (and he’s the most manipulative asshole on the show on-stage and off), the final couple of episodes certainly make you want to skip to the end because of the compelling characters and, naturally, our interest in wanting more delicious scheming.
As expected, the show takes on a slightly soapy turn at times but it’s all worth it in the end. I wasn’t too fond of the finale mainly since Lifetime ruined some of the key moments in their promo (more reason to love Lifetime, amiright?), but the show ended in a PERFECT shot, reassuring us why we love to watch both UnREAL and Everlasting.
And just in case I haven’t convinced you yet, know that UnREAL is even more enjoyable as marathon-viewing. The first season is only 10 episodes long, you’ll most likely have that sucker finished on a weekend. Never has trashy TV been this addictive.
– The pilot is definitely one of the most impressive season openers I’ve seen all year. I don’t know why Lifetime was skeptical about this show and felt the need to put the first four episodes online even before they aired because I was immediately hooked.
– What’s up with the title though? Shedding the spotlight on the “reality” aspect or what? Either way, it looks ridiculous. As do the opening credits which are basically just the words “UnREAL” showing up in red on a black screen.
– If there’s one character that NEEDS to go next season, it’s Jeremy. Every scene he was in was absurdly boring. I couldn’t care at all about him and his girlfriend (what’s-her-face). Please, writers, get rid of this guy!
– I love how the show doesn’t shy away from heavy topics such as racism. At one point, someone tells Grace (a dark-colored swimsuit model) that “brown girls never win these things”.
– I didn’t like Shia so much, especially because she was just conniving and cruel, even though that hardly makes her any different from the rest.
– Quinn constantly telling Rachel that she has her back and doing so by manipulating her to stay on the show was brilliant. Every single time.
– On the other hand, I hated Chet so much. Quinn, you can do so much better!
– I know it’s definitely unlikely, but I really wish Constance Zimmer can get an Emmy nod someday. Her performance in the finale alone is chilling and worthy of several awards.
– I love how Quinn was desperate to find a “villain” on the show. They even keep a scoreboard and everything! Hilarious.
-The final Everlasting show is definitely one of the juiciest, most devious episodes. It’s also great how it parallels with the pilot as if the show has come full-circle. And my God, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
– It’s no surprise I love Quinn so much. Just check out all the hilarious and outrageous zingers she comes up with below.
Quips & Quinn
Chet: You’re not hot enough to be crazy.
Quinn: I need a new bitch. Now.
Quinn: Leave your conscience at the door on this one, okay?
Quinn: They want the truth like I want pube lice.
Adam: When I get used, I like to get paid a lot.
Faith: Dude, I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you, but you’re kind of a player. If I drew a vagina on a white piece of paper, you’d probably hit on it.
Adam: You are a hateful, conniving bitch, you know that?
Quinn: (smiles) Thank you. Now go start planning your honeymoon, lover.
Quinn: Judging from this tape, you seem like one of our self-destructive, brainwashed contestants than somebody who knows how to get what they want.
Quinn: I want you to understand I’m not a monster. Rachel can seduce anybody. That’s why I’m here. To protect her from herself.
Quinn: I think I actually started to believe the crap that we sell here. Love. Without hookers or teenagers or anything but me.
Quinn: You mean why you’re not coming out of a blackout on the beach in Tahiti, using your panties as a pillow, dumped and realizing you ruined your life on some half-wit, narcissist man doll?
Rachel: Yeah, I mean, God forbid I make my own mistakes, right?
Quinn: Like you haven’t made enough of those.
If you’re looking for a constantly entertaining summer show to keep you on your toes all along, then UnREAL is the show for you. One of the most surprising and impressive first seasons I’ve seen in a while.