UnREAL :: The show takes a dark turn – but does it work?



Spoilers ahead, more so than usual.

The episode, “Fly,” starts with the least interesting storyline, that of Rachel’s ex-boyfriend Jeremy (great name!) and his current gal Lizzie going at it kinda rough. Apparently too rough, unlike the sinister Rachel Goldberg. Or perhaps it’s a way to generate interest in the Rachel/Jeremy dynamic, which has been quite dull by this point, especially compared to every other storyline. As per usual, there are a few interlocking storylines. The other sideplot is between Chet and Quinn, and it’s not as interesting as I’d hoped, but I did like the look at how perhaps their relationship is more a team than a powerful guy taking advantage of an employee. That said, the way it ended, with Chet’s wife calling and talking to her unborn child at the ultrasound was a bit too much.

That’s one side plot. The rest of the episode was entirely about unstable mother Mary, who Shia illegally (probably) and dangerously (certainly) took off medication without telling Mary about it. I suppose Shia is now the actual villain of the show, because she pretends to be self-righteous to hide her own much worse misdeeds. I’ll get back to that in a second. First I was quite glad to see Johanna Braddy back as food problems lawyer Anna, even if the little “secret” date Adam invites her on isn’t even shown. Seems a missed opportunity, unless they do it next week.

I was quite glad to see Johanna Braddy back. tweet

The fifty dollar bet between Chet and Quinn/Rachel for Mary’s future on the show led to some unusual cruelty, but let’s not kid ourselves. Shia is the impetus and the cause. Mary is shown as increasingly dark and confused through the episode, demonstrating a Hollywood version of bipolar disorder. But it’s good enough for a TV show not claiming to be accurate psychology. The paths were predictable but enjoyable. Adam and Rachel bonding over hating kids, getting too close and breaking apart again. A good push forward on that, and Adam gets another chance to punch another terrible guy. The whole “Do you like anyone yet?” and “maybe” was a bit too on the nose, but I will allow it because the two sold it.

Seems that’s the show’s way of making Adam look good, comparing him against much worse jackasses. The rationalizations of these characters get worse each episode, with Rachel convincing herself that Mary confronting her abuser is helpful, while Quinn agrees with an evil smile. She knows better. And throughout it all, Shia gets more and more hypocritical. “You’re just making good TV,” she says, and says it’ll be Rachel’s fault. Which makes her either delusional or a liar. She’s like the Rachel without a conscience holding her back. She’s the Lifetime movie version of Rachel.

The show hasn’t gone this dark before. tweet

And then we have the ending, with Mary jumping off the roof, reaching for Rachel to “come with me.” Foreshadowing or a warning sign for Rachel? We don’t know yet, of course, but I like the idea. Having a character attempt suicide (she may have survived) is a very serious thing for a show to do. I feel it did set up Mary’s behavior and situation so that it didn’t seem illogical, but that said, I am wary. The show hasn’t gone this dark before, although it did do a light touch on sexual assault. So I’m wary but cautiously optimistic. And I’ll certainly be tuning in next week.

Editor’s note: UnREAL has been renewed for a 10-episode second season.

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One Comment

  1. It was definitely a surprise. I can’t wait to see what happens next week.