UnREAL is the sudsy guilty-pleasure of the summer.
It follows the cast and crew behind the scenes of a reality dating show called Everlasting, so it’s supposed to be the reality behind the “reality,” when really it’s pure fiction. Yet, it plays out more realistically than anything you’ll see on Bravo this season. While UnREAL premiered to low ratings, it’s maintained buzz over the summer, especially with ABC airing its latest season of The Bachelorette on the same night. Bachelorette fans will switch over to the Lifetime show directly following the dating drama.
— lily voix (@helenasea) July 28, 2015
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— Emie (@EmieSea) July 28, 2015
But while some fans like to consume The Bachelorette and UnREAL together like cheese and wine, I prefer to drink the latter with another show: LOST.
Granted, I will never watch LOST again after its lackluster finale (and final two seasons), but when I watch UnREAL, I think fondly of the early mystique of the island and wondering why these characters are here.
It’s kind of a stretch, but if you think about it, the two shows share strange resemblances to each other. Each show consists of people who’ve done bad things to get where they are. They’re both stuck in a confined location that they all want to get out of. And strange things happen like frolicking polar bears and white ladies dangling from the roof.
I like to watch UnREAL with the idea that everyone is in purgatory and that they are all trying to find their way out, which is essentially the plot of LOST (although they were in emotional purgatory for seasons 1 through 5 and literal purgatory in season 6).
From the very beginning, there’s something eerie and disturbing about UnREAL. We meet Constance Zimmer’s Quinn, who may as well be Christof from The Truman Show, calling the shots and anticipating America’s every racist move (you can’t have a black girl come out of the limo first!). She goes through the motions like she’s done this a million times. She’s like Desmond hitting the button every 108 minutes.
Then, there’s the producer Rachel (Shiri Appleby). She made a drunken scene at the end of last season, alienating everyone (including her boyfriend) and putting her on probation. But she’s back. . .because. .there’s no place else for her to go. She’s Jack Shephard. She desperately wants to go back to the island she couldn’t wait to get away from. And like Jack, she makes questionable decisions, like inviting one of the contestant’s abusive husbands for a confrontation on the show.
No one on UnREAL is likable. Everyone has their sins, and they run deep. The Bachelor himself Adam Cromwell (Freddie Stroma) whores himself out in an effort to get investors for his vineyard. Shia (Aline Elasmar) messes with one of the contestant’s bipolar medication to get bitch-tastic moments for the camera. Even the measly production assistant intern Madison (Genevieve Buechner) gives her married boss Chet (Craig Bierko) a BJ just because she feels like she has to.
Yet, unlike LOST, we don’t get flashbacks of these characters. We don’t learn the drive behind their actions. In fact, we don’t even see what these characters’ home lives are like, which actually makes for more effectively grim storytelling. These people are just… here. They don’t have a life outside of the show, so it makes it seem like they are all minions to the cause with Quinn leading with a pitchfork.
I doubt that UnREAL will end with everyone meeting at a church and going to Heaven together, and I prefer it that way. UnREAL is darker and more twisted. And if Quinn has her way, no one will ever escape.