“Let’s give them what they want: ponies, princesses, romance, love. I don’t know, it’s all a bunch of crap anyway.” It’s the opening night of Everlasting and producer Quinn King is ready for the show.
And so begins UnREAL, a Lifetime original, that’s just begun airing its sophomore season. It tells the story of a Bachelor-type reality television show called Everlasting, featuring the suitor (the charming Adam Cromwell, played by Freddie Stroma), a string of hopeful contestants, and more importantly the producers; the brains behind the whole operation. The producers are tasked with manipulating the contestants and get to witness, and revel in it all.
The series begins with show runner Quinn (Constance Zimmer) bringing back Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby), a producer who had a meltdown during the previous season. While the crew sees Rachel as a threat to the show, in Quinn’s eyes, she’s the best. Rachel must find a way to validate herself again as well as meet the demands of Quinn, who doesn’t expect anything less than perfect.
Here’s a run-down of the show.
Number of seasons: Two (12 episodes)
Where to get your fix: Season two is currently airing on Lifetime UK but you can catch up on season one on Amazon Video and iTunes. The show has been renewed a third season.
Best character to follow: The heart of UnREAL is Quinn and Rachel’s relationship. Quinn is a head-strong career woman who refuses to let her boss Chet Wilton (Craig Bierko) make decisions or control her show. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it by pushing her team to do whatever it takes to make sure that she’s getting the best damn TV. Rachel comes back from an absence and hopes to pull herself together after a public meltdown. She’s doing well – she’s gained Quinn’s trust and back on the job. But the guy who she was once in love with has moved on and she has to look at him every day because he’s the cameraman on the show. Despite being conflicted about how to lie to her contestants, she’s quick on her feet and knows exactly what needs to be done to create the drama Quinn needs. There’s power play between the two leads and this occasionally shifts, despite Quinn being in the senior role. Both Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby are fantastic in their roles, comfortably adopting the identity of two people who are not to be messed with.
Quinn: “We can make TV that really matters and doesn’t make people feel like bags of flesh.”
Rachel: “You may want to be Chet, but I don’t wanna be you, Quinn.”
Quinn: “Seriously, what does this guy not get about what we are doing here? We are selling true love.”
Rachel: “Each one of those girls is your girlfriend.”
Quinn: “Leave your conscience at the door on this one. Okay?”
Why you should binge: UnREAL satirises the whole concept of reality TV by following the behind the scenes drama and the people who make the drama. The producers churn out every opportunity to manipulate the fragile contestants for ratings causing emotional manipulation, tears and a whole lot of backstabbing. It’s an exciting ride which is made worthwhile from the standout performances by its two female leads.