UnREAL Reviews & Ratings

60 minutes

UnREAL centers on Rachel (Shiri Appleby), a young staffer whose sole job is to manipulate her relationships with and among the contestants to get the vital dramatic and outrageous footage the program’s dispassionate executive producer demands. What ensues is a humorous, yet vexing, look at what happens in the world of unscripted television, where being a contestant can be vicious and producing it is a whole other reality.
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by jazeronContributor
Jun 3, 2015 3:44AM EDT
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An honest and darkly comedic look at the messed up reality behind "reality" television. I used to be a sucker for the drama and hilarity that ensues around the crazies that join The Bachelor/ette, but after watching just one episode of UnREAL, I no longer think it's funny.

An honest and darkly comedic look at the messed up reality behind "reality" television. I used to be a sucker for the drama and hilarity that ensues around the crazies that join The Bachelor/ette, but after watching just one episode of UnREAL, I no longer think it's funny.

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Jun 21, 2015 7:59PM EDT
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I like where the show is going. Definitely drama at every turn! I'm excited to see what is next...

I like where the show is going. Definitely drama at every turn! I'm excited to see what is next...

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Aug 26, 2016 1:04PM EDT
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Two bad ass women rarely survive on TV these days but with UnReal that has all changed - when you watch it you know why. Appleby and Zimmer are perfect in their respective roles and the drama drags in the viewers episode after episode. Lines are crossed and as you think it can't get worse it kicks it to maximum power. I was uncertain of their ability to keep the moment through the second season but they have delivered. A true masterpiece about some of the reality TV that we have all gulped up by the gallon throughout the years in one form or the other. This is TV magic.

Two bad ass women rarely survive on TV these days but with UnReal that has all changed - when you watch it you know why. Appleby and Zimmer are perfect in their respective roles and the drama drags in the viewers episode after episode. Lines are crossed and as you think it can't get worse it kicks it to maximum power. I was uncertain of their ability to keep the moment through the second season but they have delivered. A true masterpiece about some of the reality TV that we have all gulped up by the gallon throughout the years in one form or the other. This is TV magic.

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Sep 3, 2016 4:12PM EDT
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Peeking behind the curtain of a reality dating series, Lifetime's UnREAL is the prototype for what not to do when you're a buzzed about critical darling in your first season. The story of the tangled, twisted dynamic between two producers on The Bachelor satire Everlasting and how the two manage to create the contestant interactions/reactions they need to fill out their show, the first season of UnREAL managed to be both incisive in its commentary and delicious in its execution. It was bold, tough, and unafraid to fully embrace twists without sacrificing character in the process; it was the type of gasp-worthy entertainment that reveled in the mess its characters made, as watching producers pull the strings of the contestants felt dangerous and deeply invigorating, while keeping everything reasonably grounded.

However, a year's worth of praise seems to have gone to the heads of those in charge, as season two of UnREAL is everything the show (mostly) avoided becoming in season one. The show becomes even more obsessed with the central dynamic (a co-dependent student/teacher-ish relationship between the creator and her favorite #2) to the point where the supporting cast is ignored/undeveloped or deeply frustrating in their characterization. Rather than flesh out the contestants in season two, UnREAL just cobbled together some shallow archetypes (e.g. rich daddy's girl, tough cop, "woke" student) and failed to either make us care about them personally (like we cared about characters like Anna and Faith in season one) or do anything interesting with them dramatically.

That also extends to the suitor of the show-within-a-show, who became the ultimate narrative cypher, a way for the show to pat itself on the back with regards to inclusive casting without doing the leg work to make his presence worthwhile. The show abandoned any pretense of caring about the show-within-the-show itself in favor of unending discussion of who's actually running things behind the scenes at Everlasting, a deeply grating narrative cul-de-sac about Men's Rights Activism, and an insulting attempt to tell a Black Lives Matter storyline from the perspective of a white woman who sets a police shooting into motion. In all its self-satisfied glory, season two of UnREAL was trying to Say Something about race, the media, and the criminal justice system, but by trying to stuff 50 pounds of plot into a 10 pound sack, never stopping to either allow the show to breathe (or recognize what type of show UnREAL actually is), everything became a muddled glob of twists being piled on top of twists with nothing holding them together. Twist-heavy television can work, but you have to care about the characters first and foremost and if you're surrounding your show with cardboard cutouts, playthings only meant for the producers to use and abuse before being cast aside, it's not going to have the intended effect.

Additionally, the show took some steps back when it comes to its treatment of its two main characters. Everlasting co-creator Quinn, a ball buster with a filthy mouth and a fizzy energy, became a one-dimensional insult generator obsessed with having a baby with a guy she barely knew, while the show seemingly delighted in degrading producer Rachel and exploiting the mental illness that never really went above a simmer in season one. Some of the show's weaknesses could be forgiven if the relationship between Quinn and Rachel, as well as how their individual storylines, were respected and well-executed, but the show opted to basically ignore everything but these two while giving them poor material (e.g. daddy issues, baby fever, using rape as a twist), thereby making their decision to exclusively focus on Quinn and Rachel all the more damaging.

Mean-spirited and juvenile, season two of UnREAL completely detonated the show in my eyes. There's nothing entertaining about a group of deeply, hopelessly irredeemable people being horrible to one another for seemingly no reason at all. By losing grip on the show-within-the-show, nothing on UnREAL had any weight to it; the contestant manipulations were empty (and often ugly), the repetitive jostling for control of Everlasting was deeply uninteresting, and the lack of consequences faced by the main characters was comical in its toothlessness. For a show that thinks it's incredibly deep and impressively sharp, it's never managed to make any of the terrible things that happen feel like they could have lasting effects, meaning that UnREAL is now a black hole of "anti-hero" behavior, a show that works so hard to shock you that you can practically smell the flop sweat. When season two can't even hide the weirder aspects of season one (e.g. the absurd turnaround between shooting the show and the show actually airing), you know you're witnessing the incoherent dying gasps of a show that had all the potential in the world. It just bought into its own hype.

Peeking behind the curtain of a reality dating series, Lifetime's UnREAL is the prototype for what not to do when you're a buzzed about critical darling in your first season. The story of the tangled, twisted dynamic between two producers on The Bachelor satire Everlasting and how the two manage to create the contestant interactions/reactions they need to fill out their show, the first season of UnREAL managed to be both incisive in its commentary and delicious in its execution. It was bold, tough, and unafraid to fully embrace twists without sacrificing character in the process; it was the type of gasp-worthy entertainment that reveled in the mess its characters made, as watching producers pull the strings of the contestants felt dangerous and deeply invigorating, while keeping everything reasonably grounded.

However, a year's worth of praise seems to have gone to the heads of those in charge, as season two of UnREAL is everything the show (mostly) avoided becoming in season one. The show becomes even more obsessed with the central dynamic (a co-dependent student/teacher-ish relationship between the creator and her favorite #2) to the point where the supporting cast is ignored/undeveloped or deeply frustrating in their characterization. Rather than flesh out the contestants in season two, UnREAL just cobbled together some shallow archetypes (e.g. rich daddy's girl, tough cop, "woke" student) and failed to either make us care about them personally (like we cared about characters like Anna and Faith in season one) or do anything interesting with them dramatically.

That also extends to the suitor of the show-within-a-show, who became the ultimate narrative cypher, a way for the show to pat itself on the back with regards to inclusive casting without doing the leg work to make his presence worthwhile. The show abandoned any pretense of caring about the show-within-the-show itself in favor of unending discussion of who's actually running things behind the scenes at Everlasting, a deeply grating narrative cul-de-sac about Men's Rights Activism, and an insulting attempt to tell a Black Lives Matter storyline from the perspective of a white woman who sets a police shooting into motion. In all its self-satisfied glory, season two of UnREAL was trying to Say Something about race, the media, and the criminal justice system, but by trying to stuff 50 pounds of plot into a 10 pound sack, never stopping to either allow the show to breathe (or recognize what type of show UnREAL actually is), everything became a muddled glob of twists being piled on top of twists with nothing holding them together. Twist-heavy television can work, but you have to care about the characters first and foremost and if you're surrounding your show with cardboard cutouts, playthings only meant for the producers to use and abuse before being cast aside, it's not going to have the intended effect.

Additionally, the show took some steps back when it comes to its treatment of its two main characters. Everlasting co-creator Quinn, a ball buster with a filthy mouth and a fizzy energy, became a one-dimensional insult generator obsessed with having a baby with a guy she barely knew, while the show seemingly delighted in degrading producer Rachel and exploiting the mental illness that never really went above a simmer in season one. Some of the show's weaknesses could be forgiven if the relationship between Quinn and Rachel, as well as how their individual storylines, were respected and well-executed, but the show opted to basically ignore everything but these two while giving them poor material (e.g. daddy issues, baby fever, using rape as a twist), thereby making their decision to exclusively focus on Quinn and Rachel all the more damaging.

Mean-spirited and juvenile, season two of UnREAL completely detonated the show in my eyes. There's nothing entertaining about a group of deeply, hopelessly irredeemable people being horrible to one another for seemingly no reason at all. By losing grip on the show-within-the-show, nothing on UnREAL had any weight to it; the contestant manipulations were empty (and often ugly), the repetitive jostling for control of Everlasting was deeply uninteresting, and the lack of consequences faced by the main characters was comical in its toothlessness. For a show that thinks it's incredibly deep and impressively sharp, it's never managed to make any of the terrible things that happen feel like they could have lasting effects, meaning that UnREAL is now a black hole of "anti-hero" behavior, a show that works so hard to shock you that you can practically smell the flop sweat. When season two can't even hide the weirder aspects of season one (e.g. the absurd turnaround between shooting the show and the show actually airing), you know you're witnessing the incoherent dying gasps of a show that had all the potential in the world. It just bought into its own hype.

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by c_ijaz
Jul 20, 2016 11:47AM EDT
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I had my reservations about this show but boy was i wrong. This show is AMAZING!!!
I'm kinda scared now of reality TV. Every episode is packed with drama and excitement and the cast is just perfect! Love it!!!

I had my reservations about this show but boy was i wrong. This show is AMAZING!!!
I'm kinda scared now of reality TV. Every episode is packed with drama and excitement and the cast is just perfect! Love it!!!

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Jun 2, 2015 4:00PM EDT
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Surprisingly deep (and dark) look behind the fassade of a Bachelor-type show. Judging by the pilot it's got a great amount of potential. Really looking forward to how this developes.

Surprisingly deep (and dark) look behind the fassade of a Bachelor-type show. Judging by the pilot it's got a great amount of potential. Really looking forward to how this developes.

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Feb 8, 2016 7:39PM EST
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UnREAL's cynical behind the scene look at the making of reality shows not only demonstrates criticizes what shows want out of contestants, but what audiences at home are wanting out of a show. So yes, the people behind the show within a show are there to make fun of you too.

UnREAL's cynical behind the scene look at the making of reality shows not only demonstrates criticizes what shows want out of contestants, but what audiences at home are wanting out of a show. So yes, the people behind the show within a show are there to make fun of you too.

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Dec 29, 2016 2:45PM EST
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The show goes beyond the beyond to show reality behind what tv wants us to believe as reality. It is ambivalent, dark and oh so twisted. UnREAL leaves no question as how little a life is worth in a money making machine like showbuiz. Entertaining, shocking and infectious. I give you one of the probably most honest portrais of today´s television.

The show goes beyond the beyond to show reality behind what tv wants us to believe as reality. It is ambivalent, dark and oh so twisted. UnREAL leaves no question as how little a life is worth in a money making machine like showbuiz. Entertaining, shocking and infectious. I give you one of the probably most honest portrais of today´s television.

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by TelevisionFanboyContributor
Nov 4, 2016 2:34PM EDT
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Unreal is the ultimate reality television satire. Since the opening scene featuring Shiri Appleby's "This is What A Feminist Looks Like" t-shirt, this show hasn't stopped delivering clever barbs. Featuring one of the most powerful female duos in television, UnReal always lives up to its name. This program delivers humor, heart, and gut punch dramatics on a weekly basis.

Unreal is the ultimate reality television satire. Since the opening scene featuring Shiri Appleby's "This is What A Feminist Looks Like" t-shirt, this show hasn't stopped delivering clever barbs. Featuring one of the most powerful female duos in television, UnReal always lives up to its name. This program delivers humor, heart, and gut punch dramatics on a weekly basis.

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May 24, 2018 4:59PM EDT
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Good 1st season

Good 1st season