UnREAL was one of the real sleeper hits of last year: a boost for the credibility of Lifetime, and a highly original show that stuck out from the madding crowd. Last July, thankfully, the Shiri Appleby-and-Constance-Zimmer-starring show — which explores the ethically compromised behind-the-scenes goings-on which make reality shows like The Bachelor possible — was gifted with a second season, after climbing ratings and plenty of critical accolades.
Also, in an unprecedented and slightly dystopian turn of events, it has recently been confirmed that the show-within-a-show’s on-screen couple is getting married in real life.
The trailers hints toward what one might have expected for such a relentlessly bleak and cynical comedy: a dive further into the underbelly of the human soul and corporate greed. Even Constance Zimmer (Quinn), in a panel about the show at the Paley Center yesterday, said “I didn’t think we could go this dark,” as THR reports.
A new season of Everlasting begins — with a black bachelor, Darius Hill (played by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s B.J. Britt). Last season brought up complex racial issues with several of the prospective bachelorettes, and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman’s assistant character, Jay. But in Season 2, it’s the show’s dominant interracial relations become a major issue. For a worldwide (and especially country-wide) audience, contact between an African-American male and a white woman is still a serious issue: something which the networks, despicably, still pay attention to.
The pressure of maintaining ratings pushes Rachel (Appelby) and Quinn to another level of psychological — and even physical — torture. More lives are ruined on UnREAL than even The Americans. It looks like Rachel may be electing felony admissions this time around, as a bachelorette breaks down after Appleby’s character accuses her of killing her ex-fiance in a “confessional” interview.
A notable change this season: Chet (Craig Bierko) and Jeremy (Josh Kelly) are out of picture for love interests for Quinn and Rachel, and. to some extent, minimized as characters. But in the Paley Center panel, Bierko did clarify a horrifying fact: A newly slimmed-down Chet has become a men’s rights activist. (As if things couldn’t get more debased in this universe.) Ever-candid co-showrunner Sarah Gertrude Shapiro also clarified to EW in January that Jeremy has turned into “a total fucking asshole,” feeling vindictive and wronged after his split with Rachel.
By all accounts, the Chet/Jeremy splits will cause the simultaneously charming, empowering and deeply troubled relationship between Quinn and Rachel to deepen. The two will become an even more deadly force of nature, even if they are still ripping each other sometimes. “Money, dick, power,” they say, toasting each other in the trailer.
Nearly no other show on television is as delightfully and compellingly divorced from male dominance: Few characters on TV are as richly written and acted than Everlasting…’s terrible twosome. Rachel’s conscience, we can assume, will take a beating, even as she struggles for her independence, and to figure out what she wants out of life outside of the career she’s too good at for her own good.
Theres a new complication, too, in the form of another potential match — a new producer on the show —that is perhaps a little more woke and decent than last season’s erstwhile jerks. “We’re interested…this season [in] looking at what happens to Rachel when there is a viable candidate in front of her, like, she’s met her match,” Shapiro said to EW.
In terms of Adam — the former “bachelor” and Rachel’s other “love” interest — Yahoo recently confirmed that actor Freddie Stroma will return in Season 2, despite the semi-conclusion of his plot line at the end of the first season. No word yet how long he will be back for, or what his function will be.
Leave it to Sally Gertrude Shapiro, co-conspirator Marti Noxon and the gang to make UnREAL’s psychological universe even more nuanced and fascinating. And don’t miss the premiere on Lifetime, coming on Monday, June 6th.