It’s kind of ridiculous how intense UnREAL can get in such short time. The show gave us a few storylines of varying intensity and intrigue. First and foremost is the complicated and perilous friendship between Rachel and Quinn, the battle of rivals, friends, peers, and more. Quinn fancies herself a mother figure, better than Rachel’s toxic real one, but is she really doing what’s best for Rachel or herself for that matter?
The clarion call of “Money Dick Power” that theoretically combines them with a shared tattoo isn’t any less ephemeral than anything else. The push for those things is a path fraught with peril, for reasons that should be obvious. Although at first all goes well, with Quinn proudly letting Rachel take the lead on running the show, as soon as Chet reappears with regressive caveman politics and a huge weight loss, it’s too personal. Her relationship with Chet isn’t exactly one filled with good things.
Chet was a thief and a cheater. And yet he blames his problems on her and the system that creates such social dynamics. His retro-tribalist philosophy of effeminate man-children ruined by shrill harpy woman-monsters is putrid and dangerous, but he’s right about one thing: Chet and Quinn are terrible for each other.
His statement that men have only lived in cities for 400 years, which Quinn derided, strikes clearly as the sort of nonsensical mission statement brainwashing he must’ve heard repeated ad nauseum. Depending on how you look at it, humanity lived in cities either four or five thousand years ago. So he’s full of it; all about entitlement and regaining his “kingdom,” a non-subtle sexist construct in his mind.
That’s a lot of talk about something that will clearly resonate throughout the season.
The other big piece is the “history” making of the show, the first black suitor. We’ve never seen anything other than white guys (and very white Hispanic guys) on The Bachelor. But as much as Rachel parades the concept of making history, perhaps to convince herself, she’s pursuing the same toxic nonsense as always. Her examples of The Real World starting the gay movement and Teen Mom lowering teen pregnancy rates are … well, I’ll be charitable and call it debatable.
In her own way, she’s just repeating pointless statements like Chet to rationalize her point of view and desires.
The new guy, Darius Beck, gets a touch of complexity, which I liked. His manager, Romeo, not as much. But there’s an entire season to go for those two.
Ex-boyfriend Jeremy is still awful, and I guess that’s the point, but I don’t like seeing someone with my name being such a dick.
We also see a few reminders on “almost decent” Jay, who has a moral compass but still works for the show, Dr. Wagerstein (the same exact deal except she’s a therapist so it’s actually worse), and poor, weird young Madison. She seems to be heading down the same route of Rachel in some ways, breaking down yet proclaiming it was “amazing” after she vomited and brought out personal horrors.
That’s a storyline rife with potential.
There’s only a bit from the ladies so far. Yael seems nice but pretentious, but being called “Hot Rachel” doesn’t bode well. The fact that Quinn brought that up was just another example of how mean she can be to her supposed “girl.” Tiffany is pretty and nothing else yet, Chantal has the tragic backstory too, and Beth Ann is the racist. That’s just ridiculous, yet I could believe a dating show would totally do it.
It’s all about pushing the envelope, forcing a Pakistani girl to wear a headdress when she doesn’t want to, or manipulating Ruby the activist to be the “angry black woman” stereotype they’re craving. It’s all dangerous and laying the groundwork for more pain and failure down the line.
Once again, it’s a show with amazing acting, especially the two leads. Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer are the queens of acting without saying anything, and I could watch their pained reactions for hours. And I know I’ll get my wish this season on UnREAL, which seems as great as the first season.