No one saw UnREAL coming. And yet the Lifetime drama about the making of a fictional reality dating show, Everlasting,became a critical darling and breakout hit last year.
Now UnREAL's entire 10-episode first season is available to stream on Hulu, so what are you waiting for? Here are six reasons you should catch up right now!
1. The drama!: UnREAL takes all the insanity of your run-of-the-mill dating show and doubles it by taking viewers behind-the-scenes. The series exposes the lengths producers go to keep shows like Everlasting exciting by manipulating its contestants into compromising positions.
Watching the way these women are maneuvered also serves as a reminder that every reality star you've mocked is a real person put in an unfathomable situation. It humanizes every contestant on Everlasting, and every contestant on any reality show too. So if you're a fan of The Bachelor, you won't want to miss this chance to peek behind the curtain.
2.Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby: Zimmer and Appleby have found the roles of their lives as Quinn and Rachel, two cutthroat producers who are willing to do anything to make compelling television. But while Rachel and Quinn aren't great people, they are some of the best characters on TV.
Throughout the first season, Rachel struggles with self-destructive tendencies and how she can reconcile being a feminist with her career choice. Quinn's long-term affair with Chet (Craig Bierko), the man who stole the idea for Everlasting from her, forces her to confront the ways women are denied power in Hollywood and what she's willing to sacrifice for success.
Quinn and Rachel also have an incredibly complicated relationship that's unlike any female friendship you've seen on TV before. They're completely toxic together, and yet make you root for them nonetheless.
3. It doesn't shy away from reality TV's race problem: Despite criticism surrounding its lack of diversity, The Bachelor continues to be an almost-entirely white franchise. UnREAL leans into this controversy as early as its opening scene when Quinn halts production because the first contestant to meet the suitor is black and therefore not "wifey" material. "It's not my fault America's racist!" Quinn barks.
Moments like this are hard to watch, but they're supposed to be. UnREAL isn't about presenting an idealized version of reality shows. What it does is expose the harsh truths underneath the entertainment millions of people enjoy as fluff TV. And in Season 2, UnREAL is taking this conversation a step further, going where no Bachelor season has gone before and introducing a black suitor (B.J. Britt).
4. It moves fast: Death. Pregnancy. Blackmail. Love triangles. These are only some of the things that happen by the end of UnREAL's second episode! The show races through plotlines at a speed that makes Scandal look slow. And yet every shocking moment feels earned, since the series always puts character first.
5. It's all about women: UnREAL is a testament to "bad" feminism, which recognizes that Rachel and Quinn can be feminists and still live by the mantra, "Sluts get cut."
These contradictions are where UnREAL mines its best drama. When the show begins, the producers reduce each of the female contestants to an archetype: the villain, the slut, the wifey, the racist, etc. But as the season goes on, UnREAL relentlessly demonstrates how unnatural it is to force women to conform to these one-dimensional tropes.
6. It's a psychological chess game: Contestants and producers alike are singularly devoted to their goals — whether that's to get high ratings, to fall in love or to become famous. Because of this, everyone views peers as pawns instead of people. As the competition gets tighter, the stakes of the game get raised until one producer goes too far, reality sets in and everything comes crashing down in a tragic fashion.
UnREAL's first season is available on Hulu. Its second season begins Monday, June 6 at 10/9c.