CURRENTLY showing on Lifetime (DStv channel 131) is the second seaso on UnREAL.
Set against the backdrop of the hit dating competition show Everlasting, UnREAL is led by flawed heroine Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby), a young producer whose sole job is to manipulate her relationships with and among the contestants to get the vital dramatic and outrageous footage that the programme’s dispassionate executive producer, Quinn King (Constance Zimmer), demands.
What ensues is an eye-opening look at what happens in the outrageous world of unscripted television where being a contestant can be vicious and producing it is a whole other reality.
THELUVVIE speaks producer Sarah Shapiro about the new season.
Tell us what we can expect in UnREAL series 2?
Structurally, it’s the same as the first season of Everlasting with a new suitor named Darius (played by BJ Britt), and there are a bunch of women who come to win his love, and they’re eliminated week by week.
But the job descriptions have changed. Rachel (Shiri Appleby) is sort of doing Quinn’s job, and Quinn is doing Chet’s job because Chet (Craig Bierko) has disappeared. All of that is a power struggle for the whole season.
But where things are different is that whereas the first season was really about the princess fantasy – the idea that one person can show up and rescue you and change your whole life – in the second season, we’re really exploring race and masculinity.
Darius, the suitor is a black man and Chet has lost about 20 kilograms and become obsessed with the men’s rights movement. So it’s seeing the intersection of the men’s rights movement and feminism.
Where are you going with the complicated relationship between Quinn (Zimmer) and Rachel (Appleby)?
Where we feel like we landed was that Rachel has realised that as much as she hates working on the show and as much as it’s hell, there’s nowhere else for her to go. And so she’s resigned to her fate and what she’s decided is that if she’s resigned to her fate, she’s going to kill it. And she’s going to be the master of the universe. … Just imagine Rachel with a lot more money and a lot of power.
With Chet gone, Quinn sees a power vacuum. She grabs for power, and Rachel goes up a rung. So, they’re back in cahoots, because they need each other to screw over Chet.
Is there still a part of Rachel that holds animosity toward Quinn for how much she screwed her over last season?
I think that’s just part of their relationship. That last scene for us at the end of season one was so important, because there are so many layers in it. In some ways.
Rachel needs to be protected [by Quinn], and Quinn says, “Look, at least you’re not waking up using your panties as a pillow having been dumped on a beach in Tahiti.” And there is some truth to that.
I think in the sober light of day, it probably wouldn’t have worked out between Rachel and Adam. So Quinn’s protected her, and what we’ve always said is that Quinn is the mom that Rachel doesn’t have. And even though she’s a really mean mommy, she’s a mommy, and Rachel doesn’t really have anywhere else to go.
Will Jeremy still be around?
Yes, Jeremy (Josh Kelly) will be around. He has really turned a corner, too. He has gone from being her conscience to being just a total a–hole.
How are you feeling now, going into the second season, knowing that the first was an unexpected hit?
Psychedelically happy. Honestly, the accolades are amazing, we all feel so grateful and happy, but to be understood is a whole different level.
We didn’t know if anyone was going to pick up on the fact that Rachel and Quinn are the primary relationship, and the fact that we’re painting women in three-dimensional ways.
We were making a really fun show and that stuff was really important to us, but the fact that people got it has been mind-blowing.
What should we be most worried about this season?
I think you should be worried about us making a show about race, I think you should also be very, very worried about Rachel’s mental health, like super concerned about what it’s like when Rachel actually falls in love for real.
Catch UnREAL on Thursdays at 8 pm on on Lifetime (DStv channel 131).
DID YOU KNOW?
- When UnREAL debuted last year, the series became an instant hit with United States and South African audiences.
- Earlier this year it was nominated for numerous awards, winning ‘TV programme of the Year’ (AFI Awards), ‘Best Supporting Actress’ award for Constance Zimmer (Newsroom, House of Cards) and the ‘Most Exciting New Programme’ award at the Television Critics Choice Awards as well as a Peabody Award.
- On May 15, 2016, Freddie Stroma (Cormac McLaggen in the Harry Potter movies), who played the suitor Adam in the first season got engaged to his UnREAL co-star Johanna Braddy (Quantico), who played Anna, one of the contestants vying for his love in the “Everlasting” reality show that was being filmed in the series.