UnREAL :: An episode exposing the artifice of romance



This latest episode of UnREAL jumps ahead in time until just ten contestant/pre-wife-candidates/attention grabbers are left. The choices of who’s left are a bit bewildering to me; I spotted Faith (the religious and shy one), Athena (the race-baiting one), Shamiqua (the one who wouldn’t race bait), and Mary (the mom). Nobody else stood out, but this episode wasn’t actually about the ladies at all. Instead, it focused on Adam the Suitor’s money troubles, on how that connected with the increasingly high romantic tension between him and producer Rachel. Naturally, Rachel is cynical, but we don’t know her full history; perhaps she was into the last guy when she ran out on to the set as we saw in the flashback video. A bit unclear.

Adam was flirting hard with Rachel early in the episode, and this back and forth tension continued to build through the episode. Talking about “trust” sets up the fall later on, which worked pretty well. I was worried the show was going to take it easy on the characters for a little while, especially after the perfect apology speech by Adam that he was not so secretly directing at Rachel. The particulars of the episode were mixed, because although I bought the betrayal just fine, it seemed like Rachel was getting a bit too misty eyed. Even she realized it watching back footage of Adam kissing her.

The magazine plot was a good one though, tricking the girls and the audience with that little magazine drop, making us think the production team screwed up. Instead, it was Rachel’s evil plan after all. When Quinn yells, “We’re selling true love here,” I wondered who she was really talking about. The show? Or the show within a show? Quinn’s little journey in the episode was a thankfully different step from the last ones, breaking up with Chet and hanging around her former writing partner Bill (J. R. Bourne). Chet isn’t happy about that, but I wonder…

And no focus at all on the ladies, really, so what about the other characters?

As for ex Jeremy (great name, that guy!), he didn’t add much to the episode, so … not so interesting a character. I was glad though to see more of Jay, the gay black producer who’s trying to work at getting closer to show creator and rich guy Chet so he can pitch a show. It’s good to expand the cast, and Jay is a complex character, not just a bad or good person. His work on turning Athena into the next Omarosa led to some interesting things, which I felt ended up with mixed results. Athena had the idea about being a wingman to Adam in the final four, but instead he just doesn’t pick her. Not as interesting a conclusion to her arc, if it is indeed the end for her. And maybe that little thing with Quinn will pay off with Chet stealing Jay’s idea? Will he really leave the show after “betraying” Quinn?

The last bit where Chet sees Rachel seeing Adam in flagrante with his investor friend’s wife was disturbing but in an entertaining way. It cemented Rachel’s cynicism and doubled back to the change that there was no trust at all, that it’s all just a game. The show has been messing with Adam’s arc, building him up (punching out his horrid friend or giving a seemingly sincere apology) and tearing him down (doing whatever it takes to get money). So, thus far, the show has been really messing with us, and I appreciate that because it’s not like this is the end of the show. There is room to have an interesting resolution ahead.

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