In today’s ever-more crowded television landscape, you never know where you’re going to find your new favorite show. Last year brought a number of unlikely breakout hits, from TVLand’s delightful comedy Younger to USA’s incisive mind-bending thriller Mr. Robot, but perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the Lifetime’s breakout summer series UnReal.
Set on the stages of ‘Everlasting’, a Bachelor-inspired dating game show, UnReal centers on Shiri Appleby‘s Rachel and Constance Zimmer‘s Quinn, the ruthless producers whose lives hang in the balance of extricating weekly doses of intrigue, seduction, and insanity from their contestants. At any cost. From co-creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, UnReal is one of the most ferociously feminist series on TV, and one of the most compelling, delivering way more from the concept than you’d expect with nuanced characters, cutthroat politics, and absolutely devilish, delicious drama.
UnReal gained big buzz last year for Rachel and Quinn’s Machiavellian manipulations, touted as the first show to deliver true female antiheroes in the vein of Tony Soprano and Walter White. That might sound silly considering they spend their time prowling the sets of a reality TV show, not the criminal underground, but UnReal delivers with a pair of endlessly watchable, though morally questionable, protagonists who struggle with the weight of their actions, even as they get their greatest satisfaction from them.
When we spoke with Shapiro earlier this year, she teased the battles ahead for Rachel and Quinn (not least of which is thorny territory of casting a black bachelor — something the real Bachelor has yet to do.)
“They are at war with manhood. They are on top, obsessed with power and money, dancing on the tables, doing coke and having a great time.” Shaprio said, adding, “Rachel and Quinn are going to behave and battle like men. Our whole season is really about gender roles, and it’s about Quinn and Rachel trying to step into these male gender roles… [and] worrying about what the effect is on women when they try and battle that way.”
UnReal returns to Lifetime on June 6th, and it can’t get here fast enough.