Unreal is a dark comedy series that made its debut on Lifetime in June, 2015. Created by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Marti Noxon, the show received rave reviews from the critics. The critical success of the show made it possible for the show to be picked up for a second season that will be airing sometime in 2016.
The series showcases the reality of what happens behind the scenes on reality television shows and portrays that it is actually the producers calling more shots than the viewers would like. It is the story of a reality television producer, Rachel Goldberg. Rachel has been through a massive meltdown in the previous season of her show, Everlasting, a reality dating show. With her demanding boss, Quinn King, always standing on her head, Rachel has to do everything she can to make the show a success. Even if it means, manipulating the participants, twisting the stories, and what not. Anything that entertains the audience is okay, and it being real or not, is not a concern at all.
The first person to be cast on the show was Shiri Appleby, who is playing the lead role of Rachel Goldberg. The show very briefly touches on Rachel’s past. She is the protagonist of the show and the viewers see the story from her eyes. The one good part about her character is that she has a conscience, which may be her only saving grace. She is aware of what she is doing. Her struggle and her response to different situations are interesting to see.
The part of the executive producer, Quinn King, is played by Constance Zimmer. She is all about the television ratings and has no reservations about how her team makes it happen. Basically, she has no moral compass, but has her priorities in place, which is a successful show, period! After all, it affects her reputation if the show does not do well.
Another important character on the show is Chet Wilton, who has been portrayed by Craig Bierko. The creator of Everlasting, Chet, is a self-indulgent and vulgar man, who also has a stormy affair with Quinn. He knows the pulse of the audience, which has earned him a lot of wealth. The money has only made him dive deeper into his self-destructive habits.
Then, there is the character of Adam, the suitor on their show, Everlasting, which is played by Freddie Stroma. He is shown to be a rich guy and a playboy. The show is actually a tool for him to mend his public image. So, he is nice to the girls on the show, because he has that agenda on his mind. But as the show progresses, it is hinted that he might have developed a liking for Rachel. Given the format of the show the list of regular on the show is pretty long. There is Jeffery Bower Chapman, who is playing the role of Jay, the producer of the Everlasting. Then there are the contestants, who have been played by Johanna Braddy, Aline Elasmar, Nathalie Kelley, Josh Kelly and Ashley Scott, among others. Everlasting aired for a second season and Darius Hill is the new bachelor, played by B.J. Britt.
A lavish mansion, intimate moments, cat fights, betrayal and everything that makes for good reality television, is part of the show. The show promises to lift the veil and bring the messed up world of reality television to the viewers. The show showcases how the producers on the set create situations to make the contestants react in a certain way.
It is also a satire on the audience. There is a Quinn King or a Rachel Goldberg, because it is the viewers who want that kind of television. If that is what the people buy, then the people who sell it cannot be blamed for selling what people want.
The satire does not spare the contestants either. The people who participate in these shows seem to trust people whom they have met at the most, once or twice in their entire life. That is not a healthy thing to do either. This is the main reason why a producer or another contestant is able to manipulate them easily and make them do whatever they want to. Also, the way the series shows women being manipulated to shred other women is a sad reality.
The satirical nature of the show makes it really interesting. There is no direct comedy in the show, but the situations are so ridiculous and yet real that they give birth to the humor. The show has been liked by both the audiences and the critics alike. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has managed to receive a high rating of 97%, while on Metacritic, its score is a solid 77/100. The show has also garnered a lot of good publicity with Forbes calling it one of the best new shows. The show touches on the reality of reality television. So, it is definitely an interesting one for people who watch shows like The Bachelor.
In the brief time that the show has been on air, it has slowly climbed the ratings and has also won awards and accolades. In 2015, it was declared one of the Top Ten TV shows by the American Film Institute. The same year, the show also won the Critic’s Choice Television Award for the Most Exciting New Series. 2016 also brought good news for the show and Constance Zimmer, in particular, who won The Critic’s Choice Television Award for the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Overall, the show is a good watch. It is fast paced with ample twists and turns to keep the audiences interested. Not only this, it is also shows the constant inner struggle many people face at their jobs and also what the pressure of a job can make people do. The second season is just around the corner and it will be interesting to watch how the moral dilemma that Rachel is facing plays out for her and the other characters.