UnREAL stars Shiri Appleby as Rachel, a producer of the hit Bachelor-like dating show Everlasting whose job is to pretty much manipulate the female contestants into giving her - and viewers - outrageous, dramatic and ratings-worthy footage. The twist? Rachel isn't a horrible person and, in fact, she's got way more baggage than she could ever drum up from the stars of her show. Still, she often finds herself crossing a line and betraying her morals, especially at the urging of her brutal executive producer Quinn (Constance Zimmer).
But the series isn't just over-the-top dramatics or a tale of good people who do bad things. (And there are plenty of bad people doing bad things too.) Covering an episode of Everlasting each week, the show's narrative structure allows for the story to move fast and add a bit of fun that comes from each of the show-within-the-show's dates. And despite all of the crazy antics, there's still plenty of romance - is it wrong we want Rachel and Everlasting's Bachelor Adam (Freddie Stoma) to end up together?
If that's not enough to convince you, check out five more reasons you're absolutely missing out if you're not watching UnREAL.
1. It indulges your inner reality show obsession.
If you love reality television, especially The Bachelor, then you'll feel like you're getting a look at how the sausage is made. And while sure, the behind-the-scenes antics of Everlasting are intensified (we seriously hope real producers don't switch out contestants' medication), there is an element of truth — creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro was a former producer on The Bachelor. For more on what's real and what's not real from UnREAL, read this.
2. It examines and pokes fun at reality tropes.
For years, The Bachelor has been criticized for its lack of diversity and UnREAL plays into that. Everlasting begins with two African-American women in the group who are hit with a harsh dose of reality when Jay (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman), a producer, tells them, "I'm just going to level with you. Have either of you ever seen a black girl win one of these shows?" He then imparts his ideas for air-time strategy that one of the ladies is vehemently against, while the other agrees, adding, "I just want people to know my name."
3. Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby are the perfect pair.
These two women perfectly play the employee-boss dynamic where you root for hot mess Rachel, but can't help but love watching badass, cutthroat Quinn. And although the two equally excel at their jobs, it's when they're more vulnerable and broken that they become relatable. And speaking of stellar performances (see below), Stoma is a handsome delight as Everlasting star Adam Cromwell, a British playboy who appears to be an ass, but, on more than one occasion, has sacrificed his image to save Rachel's behind or downplay one of this lady contestant's backstory. He's ultimately a pretty good guy - for the most part.
4. A coming-out story done right.
Breeda Wool is the show's understated breakout star whose character, a Jesus-loving virgin, is actually a closeted lesbian. But unlike Everlasting producers who push Faith to come out before she's ready for a ratings boost, UnREAL waited for the fifth episode - with hometown dates as the backdrop — to reveal that Faith and her best friend have always been in love, but were too terrified to act on it or even admit it. In her "coming-out" scene, Wool beautifully portrayed both the pain of hiding who she was and the glee in finally being free.
UnREAL airs on Mondays at 10/9c on Lifetime.
Check out a sneak peek from Monday's episode: