UnREAL: Infiltration – Quinn Goes In for the Kill (Review)

Ruby and Darius UnREAL

It has to be said, this offering from Lifetime is beyond entertaining.  UnREAL (which is inexplicably losing popularity according  to IMDb) offers enough metaphorical bloodshed to satisfy most jaded viewers. “Infiltration” sees Quinn going in for the kill as she orchestrates the downfall of two contestants. After last week’s reveal that Darius has a career threatening  injury;  this week continues the behind the scenes power play action.

The three pronged battle for control between Quinn, Rachel and Coleman (Chet is so far out of the loop he is no longer a player.) intensifies as the creator of “Everlasting” takes on the new partnership of Wasserman and Goldberg.    Jeremy bails Chet out of jail, after being arrested for kidnapping.

As Quinn goes through dress choices for the Impact Awards (where she plans to impress John Booth) Chet arrives to speak with her. Ms. King proves that she is a “boss” during her conversation with her former lover.

Chet: “Um, I just wanted to say…”

Quinn: “What? You want to apologize? Beg for my forgiveness? Commit hari-kari on my rug? Go for it.”

Wasserman nabs the tickets for the awards show, the invites go to the show runner (plus one) and as Coleman is the new runner, he plans to go.  The new boss also invites Rachel. Quinn is furious.

Rachel comes to work in the “Everlasting” sports car with Wasserman. As walks toward the set Yael, aka “Hot Rachel” (played by Monica Barbaro comes out of the camera truck. The contestant obviously spent the night with Jeremy (Josh Kelly).  Yael has a picture of Rachel that the DP has punched holes through. Apparently he still has issues about his past relationship with Goldberg. 

Coleman sees the damaged picture and is concerned about Jeremy’s behavior.

Yael’s act catches up with her later when Rachel sets up her “doppelgänger” to be taken down by another contestant Dominique (Elizabeth Whitmere).  Quinn chooses these two for the “overnighter” despite Darius wanting Ruby.  Colman demotes Jeremy from DP an act  that is, in essence,  firing him.

Jeremy believes that Rachel has something to do with his change of fortune. Meanwhile Rachel tells Dominque about Yael sleeping with crew members. When Darius goes to chose, before he can speak, Dominique spills the beans on Yael having sex with crew members on camera.

The result is that Darius choses neither woman. Later he bumps them both out of the house. Jeremy urinates on Coleman’s special car and Chet offers to help his former DP.

Darius choses Ruby for the overnighter.  Quinn is furious and calls for Rachel.  Coleman has a private word with Ms. King and suggests she go home.  The new showrunner also informs Quinn that Rachel has outgrown her.  Quinn calls Rachael a “Chia pet.”

Wasserman tells Quinn that her “Everlasting” formula is old hat and that she needs to make some noise. Calling Madison in, Quinn orders her to bring Ruby’s files in. “I can make some noise,” says King.

In the private suite, Quinn has broken the show’s rules by installing  cameras throughout the “overnighter” room.  Jay complains (Ruby is one of his girls) and Quinn bluffs him out.

Wasserman and Rachel meet John Booth at the Impact Awards and the man turns out to be a huge fan of  “Everlasting.”  Chet puts Jeremy through his “retreat” therapy.   Booth seems impressed by both Goldberg and the new show runner.  Quinn shows up and steals the couple’s thunder.

While Quinn works on Booth, she gets the call from Madison telling her that Ruby’s father has arrived.  She invites Booth to the set.  Ruby tells Darius about her father and he reveals that he is influenced by his mother, among other things.  The two begin to have sex.

Jay calls Rachel and tells her about the cameras.  She knows Quinn is up to something and Rachel takes Coleman back to the set. Jeremy finally admits to Chet  that his problem is Rachel and that he still loves her.

Ruby’s dad arrives and sees his daughter having sex with Darius on camera. There is a confrontation.  Rachel arrives as Quinn takes Dr. Carter (Carl Lumblyto the overnighter room (on camera) and Goldberg stops the whole thing.  King pushes the right buttons on her protege and  Rachel allows the cameras in, despite Coleman’s telling her not to.

Ruby and her father have a parting of the ways and John Booth is very impressed with Quinn. Immediately after the family breakup on camera, Ms. King sets up the elimination round.

Rachel confronts Quinn about her actions. King tells Goldberg that Coleman is her Chet and that she, Quinn, always gets invited to the ball. Ruby apologizes for her father and then messes up by implying that Darius could be much more than a professional football player.

In the elimination round, Yael, Dominque and Ruby are sent home.  Yael for her sexual liaisons with the crew, Dominque for playing dirty and Ruby for revealing that Darius will never be the man her father is.

Quinn has impressed Booth and he invites her back to his place. She turns him down because of her dad’s funeral. She has to  get a coffin. Booth reveals that Costco has coffins and Quinn leaves with Booth.

Coleman is upset that Rachel let Quinn win.  Goldberg goes to wardrobe to drop off her dress and Jeremy confronts her about Coleman demoting him.  The altercation gets physical and Chet comes in. He grabs the cameraman and throws him out of the trailer. As Jeremy hits the ground, Chet fires him.

Constance Zimmer as Quinn is fearless. Her character is  usually right about what works and what does not.  The combined force of Quinn and Rachel (played brilliantly by Appleby) is almost terrifying in the amount of power the two  wield and their masterful manipulation of everyone.

UnREAL is addictive and mesmerizing. It is impossible not to tune in each week to see where the storyline is heading.  The compelling urge to  see what is happening, not to the contestants or Darius, but with/between Quinn and Rachel is too much to ignore. This is the best “unreal” show about reality TV.

The series airs Mondays on Lifetime.  Do not miss this show.  When Emmy time rolls around expect to see numerous gongs for this show.  Zimmer and Appleby are  odds on favorites  here for performances that go above and beyond.

CAST:

Guest Starring: Ioan Gruffudd as John Booth

 

UnREAL: Season 2 – Treason (Review)

Shiri Appleby in UnREAL

UnREAL keeps the surprises coming.  This week in “Treason” it becomes apparent that no one has anything remotely resembling loyalty towards anyone else.  Darius gets some alarming news about his injury and Quinn’s father dies.  Rachel convinces the footballer to stay with the show and Romeo gets his walking papers. Chet takes his son out for the day and gets arrested for his effort.

This is a fascinating show to watch. Apparently a mirror image of what really transpires behind the scenes of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Both reality television dating shows have been running since 2002 and 2003 respectively. Neither show appears to  be in any danger of cancellation in the foreseeable future.

UnREAL shows the underbelly of the beast. Proving that “reality” is manufactured in every sense of the word. From adroitly manipulating the contestants and the “bachelor” to making up storylines for the players.  It also includes lying, double crossing and cheating as well as manipulating the viewers.

This season started with a focus on a Black man being the show’s eligible bachelor. Despite the network’s displeasure at Quinn changing the formula Darius Beck,  an  NFL quarterback with an image problem,  agrees to be the first black man to be on the show.

Constance Zimmer is Quinn. Tough as nails and cynical to the extreme, this show runner plays to the crowd and consistently reveals a side that is less than pleasant.  She does have a soft side though one that is overcome with  vitriol and abrasive behavior. When her father dies it clearly upsets her but she hides it behind bitterness and anger.

When asked about what to do with her father’s personal effects she replies:

“Just put everything in the house, throw in a match, and burn it to the ground.”

It is apparent that her father let her down in some way. Something that Quinn has grown to expect from the male of the species. Chet is  the latest man in her life to run true to form.

After  Rachel’s attempt to have Quinn and Chet removed from the show in episode two things have taken a turn for the worse between Goldberg and her mentor.  Last week saw Quinn and Chet replaced by Coleman Wasserman and Rachel set up for a fall by Chet’s pal at the network.

The previous episode also saw Darius injured by one of the contestants. The football player needs surgery or he could become  paralyzed.  As the title of this week’s episode suggests there is treason afoot as Rachel attempts to keep Darius on the show and Quinn plots to take him out.

Rachel is still working the “making TV history” angle and trying to salvage her spot on the show. Quinn may talk of retaking the show while she attempts to scuttle Goldberg and Wasserman’s plans but that is window dressing.

Quinn wants the power back but  she also wants to hurt Rachel after her “power grab.”  She is also  angry that her protégé “stabbed her in the back.” Wasserman may be playing to Rachel but it is Quinn he will need to shove out the door if he wants to keep control of the show.

Chet proves to be an ally in the fight against Wasserman and he helps Quinn in her bid to injure the quarterback and get him off the show.  The plan backfires when Rachel talks Darius into an epidural.  The battle lines are drawn as Chet is hauled off to jail for kidnapping his son.

This revealing series about what really goes on behind the scenes in reality dating is addictive and should make fans of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette aware of the manufactured nature of these type of shows.  Zimmer and Appleby are brilliant as the two strongest women on the lot and they are what make this who what it is.

The chemistry is spot on and another thing that makes UnREAL work so well.

The series airs Mondays on Lifetime. This is must watch television and the show along with  its performers should get a few gongs come Emmy time. Check it out now.

CAST:

CREW:

 

UnREAL: Guerrilla (Review)

Darius, Chet and the manager

UnREAL this week sees more than one guerrilla in the episode. Quite a lot happens; Quinn learns of Rachel’s betrayal last week,  Darius has a problem, Chet is hanging himself and one of the contestants is thrown under the bus for ratings. This cynical look at “reality” television dating reaches new depths of deceit and Quinn proves that nobody does it better.

Chet is allowed by the new wunderkind Coleman Wasserman (Michael Rady) to hang himself with his vision of Everlasting (EverBlasting).  Quinn expertly sets up Brandy to take a huge fall and relishes the grief and pain her actions have caused. 

Rachel gives Wasserman lessons on how the show works and the two are clearly attracted to one another.   Quinn emasculates Chet in front of Darius and his manager and he loses the little power he gained with the bachelor.

Quinn calls Gary (Christopher Cousins, Chet’s buddy at the network, to gloat over her “Emmy” winning show thus far and she sends him the dailies of Brandy’s meltdown. Gary shows up on set and ignores Quinn and gives Wasserman all the credit. He also reveals that Rachel came to him earlier to have Chet and Quinn taken off the show.

Rachel panics when she realizes that Quinn knows of her actions and packs to leave. Coleman comes in and gets her to stay. The two kiss and seemingly start to have sex,  Rachel is called to go see Darius who has a problem.

Before that Gary explains to Quinn  about Rachel and then tells her that if she wants her show back to get control of her people.  He does not mention what he told Chet in the first episode.  (The network head  angrily told his buddy that if Quinn crossed him again, she would be out.)

The longer UnREAL goes on the less likable Quinn becomes. Constance Zimmer portrays her character as equal  parts wicked witch of the west and a gangsta Margaret Thatcher. A powerful woman who is not for turning. This is an individual  who destroys a contestant’s life and credibility  with viewers and shouts out “Booya!”

Rachel (Shiri Appleby) is scary good at manipulating the contestants (producing them) but she is uncomfortable with her power. Unlike her mentor Quinn, Rachel does not celebrate her victories loudly, instead she suffers a combination of guilt and pride.

Wasserman, an non-television discovery, is overawed by both women and Coleman tells Quinn quite honestly that he does not want her mad at him.  Chet too knows of the power that these two women wield but he actively fears Quinn while attempting to dominate her.

Rachel fears Quinn as well. She has betrayed a trust and  knows this will invite retribution.  Meanwhile the young black contestant who did not want to be there has suddenly gotten caught up in the hype.

UnREAL can be difficult to watch. Even with the knowledge that this is fiction does not take the edge off of the manipulation. Quinn, powerful with no emotional stake in the people on the show at all, is terrifying in her coldness.  She is also incredibly addictive to watch.

The series airs Mondays on Lifetime.

UnREAL: Insurgent – A House Divided (Review)

Tiffany and Darius screenshot

The next best thing to “Train Wreck TV” is a fictional  show about Train Wreck TV. “UnREAL” in its second season is a house divided since Chet returned to “Everlasting.” He  is trying  to take back  his baby.   In “Insurgent”  he is intent on making it all about parties, sex and OTT fun. Chet  attempts to sabotage Quinn’s racist theme that she believes will give the show “suicide” ratings.  Above all else, he wants to make it Chet’s show and not Quinn’s.

In the process, Rachel is shoved out of her new director’s chair and Quinn takes on Chet.  With no clear division of power or chain of command,  the crew is split as the gauntlet is thrown down.  The squabbling pair agree to shoot their own versions of “Everlasting” and see which one the network prefers.

Chet steals Jeremy and without batting an eye Quinn promotes Bill/Barry to DP and head cameraman.  The fight is on.

Rachel asks Quinn to contact Gary at the network and she refuses. Gary, she tells Rachel, is a “bros before hos” guy who goes skiing with Chet.  As the show starts falling apart, Chet talks Tiffany into some very un-wifey behavior (that may come back and haunt the young woman later on) and Rachel has to intervene.

Quinn’s hopes of a racial blowout between the rebel flag girl and the black activist fails to transpire and pretty Rachel, the contestant that has Madison as her producer orchestrates her own “in.”

Rachel gets a care package from her mother, some medication and a letter, and initially she throws the pills away. Later, after yet another scathing attack from Quinn, she pulls them out of the trash and puts the medication in her purse.

She also goes to see Gary.  Rachel blows the whistle on what is happening behind the scenes at “Everlasting” and how the bickering of her two bosses is harming the show. Suggesting that she be allowed to helm the show and become overall producer she promises Gary that she will not disappoint him.

The network head watches Chet’s footage  and in disgust fires both Quinn and Chet from the show until they can get their heads clear.  After a great build up, Gary promises a leader who will deliver a show that the network needs. As Rachel preens and gets ready to accept the reins of power, Gary  shoots her down by introducing the new producer.

It is Coleman Wasserman; not Rachel.

Gary leaves and Coleman reveals that he will be backing the concept that Chet has been pushing and Quinn is effectively out in the cold.

As is Rachel, although it looks like Coleman may be inclined to give her a little leeway.

With the pressure on Rachel, it seems that she may be close to either taking the pills from mother or having another meltdown.  Her bold move to “tattle” on Mommy and Daddy when she went to Gary has backfired badly.  If Quinn ever learns that her protege  went behind her back to complain, Goldberg will be dumped;  publicly and with extreme prejudice.

“UnREAL” is the best fictional show about reality television on offer.  Great performances all around and Constance Zimmer is the woman you love to hate, while  still admiring her  caustic view on the business and romance.  Shiri Appleby is spot on as the Quinn wannabe with a conscience. And lastly  Craig Bierko is excellent as the obsequious subversive who is all rolling eyeballs and lecherous intent. 

The magic of this show is its attention to all the details. The shallowness of the contestants whose real aim is self promotion or getting their 15 minutes and even the suitor is in on the deal. This season it is Darius Beck; quarterback in the NFL and a man with a reputation that needs saving.

Darius is played by B.J. Britt  who many fans will remember from “Agents of SHIELD”  as Trip, aka Agent Triplett.  The man delivers as a man who needs rescuing from himself for sins past but seems to be a nice chap regardless. 

The moral of this week’s episode is that a house divided gets a new leader.  Rachel learns this the hard way and she also discovers the sad and brutal truth of Hollywood; in Tinsel Town is is still a “man’s world.”

“UnREAL” airs Mondays on Lifetime.  Tune in and see what Quinn does in retaliation for her removal and find out if she learns that Rachel was the cause of it all.

UnREAL: A New Favorite Unreality TV Show – Review

Appleby and Zimmer with the next bachelor

Very rarely do I get so excited that the urge to gush in first person becomes irresistible. The last time was with “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and the first time was with Vince Gilligan’s “Breaking Bad.” UnREAL is not either of these, it falls somewhere in-between the comic genius of Tina Fey and the drama of Gilligan.  The show is a new favorite; UnREAL, this unreality TV show about the goings on behind a “The Bachelor” type of series.

Catching the season two premiere “War” the “behind the scenes” of a pretend dating show   lit a fire that could not be quenched until the entire first season was binged.  The two strong female characters, played by the force that is Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby, along with a nice subtle performance by Genevieve Buechner and Craig Bierko returning to wrest his baby back from Quinn (Zimmer) makes the second season compulsive viewing. 

Season one had a Brit contestant and some big names as guest stars. Johanna Braddy and  Arielle Kebbel were contestants and the first time up to bat “UnREAL” kicked arse and took names.

The show is the brainchild of Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (the real life version of Appleby’s character Rachel Goldberg) and Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer,Girlfriends Guide to Divorce) and  it is a vitriolic and cold hearted look at what goes on behind the scenes of real dating shows. “UnREAL”  is a massive hit for Lifetime network. 

Shapiro who actually worked on the reality dating show “The Bachelor” many moons ago suffered personally for her “art” and wound up begging to leave as producer after nine seasons.  Regardless of the amount of truth or exaggeration about the way these shows work (in many ways the mechanizations that the producers work daily in “UnREAL” feels much more like “Big Brother” scenario than “The Bachelor”) it is all too easy to feel like there is a huge germ of truth here.

Make no mistake, these are not nice people.  Quinn (Zimmer) and Goldberg (Appleby)  are out for ratings and manipulate, lie and bully to get the contestants to act up for the cameras and this makes for hugely addictive viewing for their audiences.

If nothing else “UnREAL” unveils the fallacy of reality television with its fictional portrayal of the behind the scenes orchestrations of dating shows. All “reality” TV is scripted, manipulated and forced to follow a direction.  In “UnREAL,” the producers of the faux dating program “Everlasting” use a whiteboard, backstories and pictures of the contestants to place them in categories; Villain, crazy girl, etc. They are then pushed and prodded to fit their characters.

For someone who loathes reality television with a passion “UnREAL”  allows the cynical side of me to believe that things really are that fake and forced. (Which they are. Don’t believe it? Pay attention the next time “America’s Got Talent” is on and watch the little vignettes designed to tug your heartstrings.)

Last season in “UnREAL” the eligible bachelor was a not-so rich Brit businessman who was trying to turn his fortunes around and this season it is the first black  bachelor.  Season two  is also about Chet (Bierko) trying to gain back control of “Everlasting.”

The chemistry of the characters is spot on and Zimmer as Quinn is a force to be reckoned with, as is Appleby as Goldberg.

“UnREAL” airs Mondays on Lifetime and this runaway hit is worth watching. Tune in and get caught up in the drama “behind the scenes.” Binging is highly recommended if, like me, you missed the first season.  (Missed, I might add, because I was under the mistaken impression is was indeed a reality television show.)