UnREAL

Last watched August 2016

Summary:

Rachel is a feminist, or so her shirt decrees as she lies on the floor of a limo ferrying girls off to meet the man of her dreams on the reality television show, Everlasting. But Rachel is also a producer, and to do her job she needs to create drama – which invariably has casualties.

The show has two seasons that predominantly follow Quinn, the Show Runner, Chet, the Owner and Rachel, Quinn’s producer and protege.

Opinion:

There are a lot of reasons that I wouldn’t blame someone for disliking UnREAL. Mostly I assume someone wouldn’t like it because, contrary to it’s name, it is waaaaaay too real. Shapiro, one of the shows creators, worked on the set of the Bachelor for 3 years producing 9 series’ and it comes across in the writing. It is sharp, it is wrought and all the characters are totally scurrilous. She is officially the Oscar Wilde of telly.

I seriously love a good woman character and this show has THREE really fucking awesome white women characters and one really incredible queer, black guy character. Rachel, Quinn and Madison are all depicted with the kind of moral murkiness usually reserved for the Don Drapers of this world. It makes me really happy that they exist and to see Madison just at the brink of that moral compromise. Rachel’s feminist conscience is always swooping in and out in one of the best representations of White Feminism tm I have ever seen. Jay also has a moral conscience and this means that him and Rachel often swoop and dive against and with each other. There’s just a lot of plotting, intrigue and mysterious intentions.

There are also really good plots around gas lighting, parental abuse and madness. Whether or not Rachel is crazy is a thread that runs right through the show. Quinn is the only one who really seems to ‘get’ Rachel and accepts her, erratic behaviour and all. That being said, Quinn also acts like a manipulative, vindictive bitch, too, but the relationship they have is probably the healthiest. The show is just really fucked up, but it’s good.

Pros: good understanding of mental illness(es) and solid world-build that offers a good platform for discussion on it, an abundance of well rounded women characters, a gritty, warts-and-all depiction of Hollywood types, superbly written, well directed, well acted, all around primo telly.
Cons: I was going to say more people of colour, but there are (at least in the latest season) a fair amount of people of colour. They still kind of feel like the drivers to the stories of white folk, though. I’m definitely not the best judge of that, but it’s my gut feel.
Genre: drama, realist(ic) drama

Light/heavy rating: 7
Approach carefully if: you struggle with the police shooting an innocent black man, the cover-up of multiple crimes, including manslaughter, domestic violence plot lines, the depiction of domestic violence, stalker-ish behaviour, intense manipulation / gaslighting of a mentally unwell person, abusive mother-daughter relationships, infidelity, the plot line and cover up of the rape of a child.

Can be found: Stan

If you liked, I recommend: Honestly, this is so much in a league of it’s own, I don’t know what to suggest to you.

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