UnREAL, TV review: Drama about backstage machinations on a Bachelor-style show is painfully accurate

To discover UnREAL, however, you’ll first have to track it down in your channel menu and that may prove a challenge

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

From painstaking recreations of the past to painfully accurate depictions of the present: UnREAL is a new drama about the backstage machinations on a Bachelor-style television series, and it’s way more real than The Real Housewives... or TOWIE. To discover UnREAL, however, you’ll first have to track it down in your channel menu and that may prove a challenge. It airs first on Tuesdays, at 10pm on the subscription channel Lifetime (Sky, 156; Virgin, 242), and then on Sky Living on Saturday evenings, which is where I caught it.

Admittedly, reality TV is a soft target for this sort of take-down, but UnREAL derives authority from its pedigree. It was co-created by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, a producer for three years on The Bachelor, the US show on which the fictional “Everlasting” is obviously based, and some of her real-life experiences have clearly been written into the lead character, Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby).

 

Rachel is a producer whose job it is to keep in line the eligible hotel heir, plus all the young female contestants vying for his attentions. Her emotional-manipulation skills have made her indispensable to the show, but constantly exploiting women is clearly taking a toll on this self-described feminist. She’d already had one breakdown as the series opened, and even that didn’t help her escape the trap in which they’re  all entangled. UnREAL is a show for  people who hate the inhumanity of  reality television and yet still find themselves drawn to it. It’s sharply critical of the old tricks, yet not above using some of them to entertain.

Comments