TV Review: “UnReal” Season 2 – Dose of Reality

Written by Danielle Sing June 19, 2016

UnREAL

There’s a running joke about Lifetime movies and reality shows being entertainingly bad (or just being plain bad), but “UnReal” breaks the mold. “UnReal” provides realistic drama, witty and smart female leads, offensive commentary, and plenty of laughs that will leave you thinking ‘did they really just say that?’ Yes, they did and you laughed at it. Yet, there’ss some diversion from the first season into the second, and unfortunately it was one of the most audience capturing components of the series.

In season 2 Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby) has been promoted to show-runner of the Bachleor-esque show ‘Everlasting’, while previous show-runner, Quinn King (Constance Zimmer), has been promoted to executive producer and part-owner. They surprise the network president, Gary (Christopher Cousins), with the first ever black suitor, pro quarterback Darius Beck (BJ Britt) – who has a few PR problems of his own. Rachel, Quinn and the other field producers start to manipulate the female contestants to create drama for the show, including starting fights between a Southern racist and a black activist. Unfortunately, Chet (Craig Bierko) has discovered himself to be a dominating man and recruits the other male crew members to take back the show.

“We aren’t camp counselors, we don’t solve problems. We make problems and point cameras at them.”

While “UnReal” does follow the Lifetime network goal of shows created by woman and featuring women in leading roles, it’s far from what Lifetime is known for. “UnReal” is a dark comedic drama (it’s more drama than comedy). There are no jokes, punchlines and laughing. It’s the ruthless criticism of reality television (specifically “The Bachelor” type shows) and of the media that’s hilarious. The shameless characters are raw and real about the racism, sexism etc. in the television industry, and the harsh reality of the industry can be funny. Some of the things they say will make you question why you are laughing at it – but that’s the beauty of how clever “UnReal” is. “UnReal” is potentially offensive (if not outright offensive) but this offensive material does reveal a lot about how real reality television is. The characters Rachel and Quinn are well written and have plenty of witty one-liners. The show has smart writing considering “UnReal” is about the behind the scenes of another show. There are many layers and characters, and all of them and the plots are kept closely tied together.

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The star of “UnReal” is the drama. There’s the drama that the characters create for ‘Everlasting’ and the drama within the crew of ‘Everlasting’. There’s ex-lovers, cheating, sex, manipulation, drugs, psychosis, ego, and everything else. Now it’s starting to sound more like a Lifetime show, but nothing is ridiculously blown out of proportion. The drama is realistic; you can imagine this drama actually happening on the set of “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette”. When you consider there have been sex scandals between contestants and crew of those shows, “UnReal” has a lot of material to work with. The drama created for the show ‘Everlasting’ was a massive audience grabber for the first season of “UnReal” – to expose the underbelly of reality television – and several teasers for the second season were all about the drama created for ‘Everlasting’, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. This season seems to feature more drama within the crew versus the drama created between the contestants. The first season had a good balance between the two, but this season is going heavier handed with crew drama. While I normally wouldn’t be bothered by this as long it was well done (which it is), the drama of the faux reality show is a major selling point for “UnReal”. If “UnReal” has too little of that, it could affect their viewership. Audiences will just have to see if this changes as the season progresses.

“Money, dick, power.”

“UnReal” is definitely a game changer for Lifetime, showing how dark both their drama and comedy can get. It’s smart, hilarious, questionably offensive, dramatic, real, and clever. Unfortunately, the source of the drama in the second season is more unbalanced than the first, and this change could result in a potential loss of viewership. But who cares when you already got green lit for a third season before the second season even premiered?

My Rating: 9/10

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