When it comes to a shows whose premise revolve around a show within a show, especially when it looks this closely into the production of a television show, there have been a fair amount of attempts. UnREAL attempted to make it past the first season and with a renewal announced, they already are making it past quite a few of them. The drama managed to capture the attention of a contingent of critics and a fairly loyal group of viewers over the course of 10 episodes this summer.
There was something about UnREAL and their approach to their highly dramatized, soapy look at a Bachelor-esque production that made it one of the enjoyable surprises to come out of this summer’s batch of new series.
Here’s five reasons why.
The Cast. I mean, it’s not so much a surprise but just really great to see actors like Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer again on our television screens every week. Not to mention that moment when you realize that the Everlasting suitor they chose was Cormac McLaggen (Freddie Stroma) in Harry Potter.
The Show within a Show. Initially, the fact that it was a Bachelor-esque show made me a little wary only because I had fallen off that reality show bandwagon ages ago. But, the fact that they have given audiences a highly dramatized (and at times seemingly unrealistic) look at the production and gave us possibly the most entertaining Everlasting host–I mean, some of the funniest moments on the show are when we see the host warm up for voiceovers–adds a bit of depth to the show and gives us something besides the crew’s stories.
The Characters. Admittedly, my experience with Lifetime television shows are fairly limited before UnREAL, but the characters they have introduced us to are so multi-dimensional (for the most part) and make such an impression that you don’t feel like you’re being bombarded by a ton of undifferentiated faces, especially when it comes to the contestants on Everlasting.
The Ambiguity. Let’s face it, these characters are not wholly nice or mean people. There’s no clear indication which character the audience should be rooting for (except for Chet, he’s just not great), which has made watching UnREAL that much more engaging. It’s got Scandal-level grey areas, with a touch more empathetic qualities for a few of the characters we’ve been introduced to along the way and that goes a long way.
The Dysfunctional Relationships. Sure, there are so many shows during the regular season that depict entertaining relationships. But out of the batch of new shows this summer, UnREAL has been the only one to captivate and be invested in these dysfunctional relationships. Whether it was the heartbreaking relationship between Rachel and her parents or the subtly adversarial and (attempted) romantic relationship between Quinn and Chet or even the somewhat maternal dynamic Quinn has with Rachel, it has been interesting to see how these developed throughout the show’s first season.