“UnREAL” has been called one of the “the best TV shows you’re not watching” this summer. And it’s not surprising if you haven’t heard of it, as a weekly drama on Lifetime. And no one would blame you for dismissing it out of hand, as the series follows the production crew and cast of a fictional “The Bachelor”-type reality show.
Stay with me, though, because “UnREAL” is upfront about the ridiculousness of reality dating while creating characters whose identities aren't so easily defined as hero or villain. The show follows producer Rachel (Shiri Appleby), fresh off an on-set nervous breakdown and break-up, as she returns for the latest season of “Everlasting” to see if she can manufacture a love story between British playboy Adam (Freddie Stroma) and his league of potential brides without selling her soul.
You don’t have to like reality television to enjoy “UnREAL,” especially since most of your prejudices against the genre may be affirmed: it’s not real; the participants are out for fame, not love; the only people who are more screwed up than the contestants are the people running this circus.
And if you are a “Bachelor” diehard fan, you might be interested to know that “UnREAL” is based on a short film, “Sequin Raze”, written and directed by former “The Bachelor” producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who co-created “UnREAL” with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” veteran Marti Noxon. The tried and true tropes of reality dating shows are so subtly documented that only faithful viewers (including all us hate-watchers) may notice them.
The series confronts some of the touchy subjects that its “real-life” counterparts handle without much grace, like race relations, antiquated gender politics, mental illness…even death. It gets really dark.
The season finale of “UnREAL” airs on Lifetime on Monday, August 3 at 10 p.m. Previous episodes are available through On Demand, the Lifetime App or mylifetime.com (cable subscription required for episodes 1-5).
Are you watching “UnREAL”? What do you think of reality dating shows? Let us know in the comments!
Image via Lifetime