Surprise! The Lifetime original scripted series UnReal has a damn good freshmen season, and it’s not likely to hit a sophomore slump on June 6th with it’s season two premiere. Shiri Appleby stars as a remarkably flawed Rachel Goldberg, who returns to the Everlasting set following a major meltdown during the previous season’s finale. She’s really a walking contradiction. We are first introduced to her in a limo surrounded by dolled up contestants, wearing a “This is what a feminist looks like” shirt; oh the irony. These small nods continue throughout the entire season as it concludes with Rachel and her manipulative mentor, Quinn King’s (Constance Zimmer) sarcastic remarks about producing a series about women with jobs. That’s not really a reality television series, it sounds more like that UnREAL scripted series.
In only ten episodes, the writers use all of their characters to develop a uniquely cynical feminine voice for the series. “Mother” is a real standout episode, showcasing the show’s abilities to manipulate the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Is Rachel mentally ill, or is her mother’s diagnosis just a stunt in the production that’s her own life? While, episodes “Truth”, “Fly” and “Savior” tackle sexual identity, spousal abuse, and suicide issues; remember reality is all about exploitation for entertainment’s sake. The writers also mange to pull off a well drawn out love triangle between Rachel, Jeremy (Josh Kelly), and Adam (Freddie Stroma). Both suitors make her question if she wants to be Quinn in ten years, or if she’s willing to settle for love. When the cameras stop rolling, the real love story is between mentor/protégé, mother/daughter, Rachel Goldberg and Quinn King.
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