If You Like The Bachelor, You’re Going to LOVE UnREAL

After 60 minutes of this new, deliciously dark drama, you’ll never watch your favourite reality dating show in the same way again

unreal show

A scene from Everlasting, UnREAL’s show within the show

My name is Maureen and I love The Bachelor. And The Bachelorette (minus this dumb stunt). And Bachelor in Paradise. And Bachelor Pad (RIP). Do with this information what you may.

OK, now that we’ve lost the haters, I can tell you about my new favourite show: UnREAL. It’s a scripted drama that goes behind the scenes of a veeeerrrrrrrry Bachelor-like show—right down to the always-wet driveway outside the mansion—co-created by a woman who once worked on a reality dating show. And it is chock-full of gems.

UnREAL stars Constance Zimmer (Entourage, House of Cards) as the reality dating show’s conniving executive producer, Quinn, and Shiri Appleby—who played Adam’s girlfriend Natalia on season two of Girls—as Rachel, one of its equally conniving field producers (“I create conditions for things to happen, and then they happen”). As a result of an onscreen meltdown in a previous season of the dating show, called Everlasting, Rachel is insanely indebted to Quinn and as such will do whatever it takes to make the next season a success. This largely involves manipulating the hell out of Everlasting’s contestants (all while wearing, at least in episode one, a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like”).

unreal show

UnREAL’s Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn (Constance Zimmer)

Quinn offers her field producers cash bonuses for manufacturing “nudity, cat fights and 911 calls,” and a bounty for the producer who can transform one of the Everlasting girls into the villain of the season. Mental health conditions are mined—“And that is why we cast her for the crazy,” says Quinn about one unstable contestant—as are another woman’s experience of domestic abuse, and yet another’s virginity (how very Bachelor season 19).

So does this sh-t actually happen in Bachelor-ville? So it seems. As part of her prep for playing Rachel, Appleby talked to a field producer for a reality TV show. “She told me how she used her sexuality in her favour, or would cover it up, depending on who she was working with,” says Appleby. “And she would always have a lace bra on. Always.” She also spoke with the owners of a reality TV production company. “I asked them if they felt guilty for what they do to the contestants,” she says. “It was as if no one had ever asked them that before.”

FASCINATING. And all the inside baseball stuff is only the half of it. There are also plenty of other killer plotlines in UnREAL, involving Rachel’s relationship with her ex (a cameraman on Everlasting) and her obvious sexual tension with Everlasting’s bachelor, Adam. And Quinn’s affair with Everlasting’s creator. And the fascinating mommy-mentor dynamic between Quinn and Rachel.

Intrigued yet?

UnREAL debuts on Lifetime on Monday, June 1 at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST.

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