Let me break this down for you. If you love Television, you’e going to love UnREAL.
How could you not love a clever, ripping satire that implodes the making of Reality TV with all the precision of a perfectly-fired smart bomb? This is going to do to Reality what Frontline did to Current Affairs.
Everlasting is the show this crew is making, which is as close The Bachelor as Blake Garvey was to lying. But the central characters aren’t the bachelor and his harem, it’s the producers and crew making the show.
At the top of the tree is Quinn (Constance Zimmer) a ruthless executive producer who pulls every string and manipulates her minions in order to get the premiere episode in the can. That includes admonishing her crew for letting the first woman her bachelor meets be a black, instead of white, woman.
“That’s the one you said had ‘wife’ potential? She’s black!” she barks. “First girl out of the carriage is always a wifey, and that is not a wifey.
“It’s not my fault that America is racist, people!”
But we’re only warming up. There’s plenty more where that came from. She sends orders that her bachelor should act “more charming” on the next take.
“Be a good meat puppet and do as I say,” she moans.
And to her crew she promises “Extra bonuses for nudity, 911 calls and catfights.”
But the central character in UnREAL is Rachel (Shiri Appleby), a story producer who knows exactly how to get the talent to deliver by manipulating them for the cameras. Trouble is, while she is torn about lying to contestants, she needs this job.
“Rachel gets the best sound bites and she has killer instincts for drama,” Quinn insists.
So when British playboy bachelor Adam (Freddie Stroma) quits on the spot, it’s Rachel who is sent in to lure him back.
“Quinn wants to shoot me with my shirt off, riding a horse down the beach shouting, ‘I’m going to meet my wife tonight!'” Adam tells her.
“And? You’ve seen the show right?” she asks.
“They promised me this season would be different!” he explains.
Then there’s the eccentric Creator of the show Chet (Craig Bierko) who doesn’t recognise any of the crew he has worked with before and has no hesitation in firing them on the spot.
The first party where Adam starts to spend time with the singles is manipulated from beginning to end.
Watching Quinn pigeon-hole her reality contestants from as little as a single line of dialogue is truly scary. She can’t wait to pick her series villain.
“People are going to hate her. But I like her,” she says of one.
Another is marked down as the “crazy one.”
“That is why we cast her. For the crazy! She knew what she was in for. The crazier the better!”
Another is about to be earmarked as a “desperate MILF” if she doesn’t make a more direct ploy for bachelor Adam for the cameras.
One African-American producer squirms as he tells to black girls that one of them needs to adopt the loud bitch role or risk being left on the editing room floor.
Adam gets a rude lesson when Rachel tells him he cannot start banging the girls on the first night. And there are endless reactions on camera repurposed to construct fake storylines.
Yes this is dizzying stuff folks, and you will never be able to look at The Bachelor, or probably any other Reality show in quite the same way again.
Shiri Appleby is pitch perfect as Rachel, the producer constantly connected to Quinn with an earpiece. Watching her deal with moral dilemmas makes for shameless drama. Set against the colourful backdrop of the Everlasting circus, UnREAL is brimming in morally-bankrupt moments, manipulation and pithy lines. It’s the best dramatised version of the other side of the cameras since Darren Star’s Grosse Pointe.
As the credits roll at least we can take comfort that these deceptive scenes are entirely American and could never happen here. And then you remember Blake Garvey’s proposal to Sam Frost.
UnREAL premieres Saturday on Stan.