Last year, UnREAL’s premiere season proved a razor-sharp satire of reality TV behemoth The Bachelor and its various spin-offs. The series, which went behind the scenes on a fictional dating show called Everlasting, sank its teeth into both the masculine and feminine ideals that disrupt and threaten to undo modern love.
Rachel makes Britney crazy
When we meet Everlasting producer Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby), it's unclear which side of the moral fence she stands when it comes to doing whatever it takes to land big ratings. That question is quashed by the end of the first episode when she manipulates the reality show's first boot, Britney (Arielle Kebbel), into turning on some crazy for the cameras. Rachel shows her true colours when she takes poor Brittany aside and forces a heart-to-heart without the latter knowing the cameras are rolling.
Anna lashes out
If any of Everlasting’s contestants represented something resembling human decency, it was kinda normal contestant Anna (Johanna Braddy). Throughout her journey to the show-within-the-show’s finale, she was continually handed the sharp end of the stick, no more so than when Quinn (Constance Zimmer) and Rachel withheld news of her father’s critical medical condition so it didn’t disrupt the Everlasting drama. Yes, Anna would go on to be a part of the insincere on-air marriage proposal, but at least by then she was entirely aware of the farce.
Dark even by UnReal standards was the moment when eldest contestant Mary (Ashley Scott) suffers a breakdown that leads to her suicide. Even darker is the fact that it wouldn’t have happened if an Everlasting crew member hadn’t switched Mary’s medication in order to create more ratings-worthy TV.
Faith comes out
One of the more interesting choices made by the writers of UnREAL was to include a contestant grappling with her sexuality. When Faith (Breeda Wool) takes Adam (Freddie Stroma) home during the meet-the-family episode of Everlasting, we discover her prolonged virginity is less due to shyness or shelter and more because she’s not attracted to men.
We meet Rachel’s mother
Proving UnREAL wasn’t taking the whole mental health issue lightly, the third episode introduces us to Rachel’s mother, who is the very definition of a piece of work. Through their worrying interactions, it’s not hard to see why Rachel continually refers to herself as “crazy”, as mother Goldberg (Mimi Kuzyk), a manipulative psychiatrist, seems to enjoy keeping that thought alive. To make matters more complicated, we’re made to consider whether Rachel would be as good as her job as she is if it weren’t for mum’s particular personality.
Rachel’s affair with Adam
For Rachel, season one is full of conflicting complications, so the last thing she needed was to feel something for Everlasting’s suitor, Adam. As an audience, we expect her to be the sensible producer and put the attraction to one side in favour of doing her job, but instead she carries on a sexual-cum-romantic affair with the man, at one point even agreeing to run away with him. But this is UnREAL, and, of course, romantic dreams are quashed in spectacular fashion.
Quinn vs Chet
Quinn and her boss’s ongoing relationship was never going to last, but when the overly bonkers Chet (Craig Bierko) proposes to Quinn, we’re made to think otherwise. This happy patch doesn’t last, as Chet is caught soliciting a blowjob from naïve production assistant Madison (Genevieve Buechner). The rest of the season is a showdown between the former lovers, and just when we think Chet’s going to have the last laugh, Quinn embarrasses him in front of the network executives and takes over his job.
UnREAL season two airs Tuesdays at 9:25pm on SBS VICELAND. Watch the first episode at SBS On Demand: