UnREAL hits an upswing by sacrificing a few characters

Lifetime

Lifetime

UnREAL was really great in its first season, despite the over-the-top nature of many of the storylines. But the characters seemed real and their interactions complex and interesting. The producer leads, the various contestants, the “suitor” Adam — there were enough characters you cared about to ignore the ones you didn’t. But UnREAL is getting a bit absurd.

So you introduce a Chet and Tiffany flirtation which she pushes further each time, I can buy that. I can even buy her liking his cheesy “want a taste” line because she feels spurned by Darius and already is attracted to Chet. It does something critical: make Tiffany at all interesting, which she has not been up to this point. But that said, why did Darius seem so off with her?

Lifetime

Lifetime

It is not explained, and it seems more a contrivance than a subtlety. I used to give the show the benefit of the doubt, but it’s let me down a few times. Case in point, the pointed case of Coleman. While I appreciated that he was unusually honest with Rachel, always acknowledging she was right when she called him out on things, he never brought up those things himself. And hooking up with Yael? I mean, so was Coleman just playing Rachel? The buildup didn’t make sense.

The idea of using Rachel’s story to take down the show to get his career back on track, well, he even acknowledged it was all out there. It was a mixed storyline, and confused. Coleman seemed sincere when he talked about getting Rachel out of the show’s toxic environment, but it triggered a severely negative response when he discussed getting Rachel help that wasn’t her mother. Her response was blisteringly fake, but perhaps I’m used to her manipulations.

Her manipulations with Yael were a lot less overt, and built up slowly without revealing everything. That said, what a classic prank! Which I do not mean as a compliment. It’s ridiculously old at this point, and I don’t think it makes great TV either. However, I did like how it revealed further the lack of empathy from Quinn as she alone laughed hysterically in the control room. Even the manipulative efforts from Madison and Jay, which I really got into, don’t come close to the lack of empathy expressed by Quinn’s delight in scatalogical distress.

Lifetime

Lifetime

One thing I do like about this season is the further exploration of Madison and Jay into more interesting characters instead of stereotypes. The show doesn’t always pull it off, but the two are fun and I think the actors do a great job. Most do, really, the weaknesses on the show have always been the writing.

And the weakest storyline? Quinn’s baby fever. Although her emotional outburst was meaningful and poignant, the buildup was rushed and odd. Billionaire boyfriend Booth was a dud. A mere contrivance to lead to the breakdown and thematic reversal so Rachel could swoop in. Now, things may change, but the entire “don’t lose this perfect guy Quinn” storyline hasn’t worked for me.

Chantal continues to be boring, and the only interesting things were the machinations around her. Otherwise, she’s a nothing character.

Lifetime

Lifetime

Pushing Rachel and Quinn away from each other and then back again, it’s a classic reset. But we’ve seen it before and I expected better from this show. As it stands the second season will be nothing close to the quality of the first, but I still like it. It’s just not the same level of excellence.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us in the comments section below!

 

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