Tonight is the second season premiere of Lifetime’s UnREAL, and if you’re not counting down the minutes, I can only assume it’s because you didn’t watch season one. And if you didn’t watch season one, oh wow are you missing out. If that’s the case, you still have a few hours to go, and all of the first season is available on Hulu, so leave work early, slip your kids some cough syrup, do whatever you have to do to binge this show.
UnREAL is one of the best shows out there right now, totally on par with the darkly hilarious, self-destructive protagonists of shows like You’re the Worst and Casual. It redefined a network, making Lifetime more than a movie-of-the-week punchline, turning it into a genuine destination for viewers of any age and gender. It’s been renewed for a third season before season two even debuted, and that’s not at all surprising. And based on the last few months of promotion, it’s looking like season two isn’t just going to clear the bar set by the first season, it’s going to raise it sky-high. Here’s what we’ve been been told to expect, and what we’re hoping to see tonight, and throughout the rest of the second season.
Tackling Race in a Big Way
Season one didn’t shy away from the fucked up way the shows UnREAL is based on handle race. Producer Jay knew that none of his girls (the black contestants) would win, because the suitor was white, and English nobility to boot. But he did know that to make it to the final three, he had to convince the women to play to “ratchet hoochie” stereotypes. In a series of unflinching social commentary, it was one of the unflinchingest.
Now, for season two, the show within a show, Everlasting, will have a black suitor. Note that this is something The Bachelor has never done. Ever.
This article on the unbearable whiteness of dating shows from the LA Times is one of my favorite pieces on the subject. Read it and be psyched for tonight.
The Women Are Going to Go Super Dark
If you watch the show, you know that it is feminist as fuck. If you get tired of the misinformed notion that a “strong female character” has to be A) actually physically strong, Black Widow-style, and B) a perfect role model and unfailing in every way, this show is for you. Quinn and Rachel are two of the most captivating anti-heroes on television, and they own their power while recognizing the struggles that exist because of their gender.
One of the most remarkable things about the show is that, while it is centered on romance— both the Everlasting matches and Rachel’s relationships— the real core is the bond between these two women. The way they destroy each other while never losing their mutual respect and love is going to be front and center this season. Constance Zimmer (Quinn) recently gave an indication of what to expect.
“This season, what’s been hard for us is Rachel and Quinn are at odds with each other. We’re always plotting when we’re apart,” she told panel host, Bachelorette Andi Dorfman. “I went to [co-creator] Sarah [Gertrude Shapiro] and said, ‘We come together in the end, right? We have to be back together!’”
It’s Gonna Be Fun As All Hell
If you read those last two points and thought to yourself “Race issues? Feminism? I’m not in the mood for something that heavy/preachy/whatever it brings to mind,” know that while those issues are at the center of UnREAL, this show is fun as hell. It’s got all the love-to-hate jerks of an actual reality show, wrapped up in a prestige drama package.
So Much Eye Candy
Season one was pretty damn hot—
But I’ve got a feeling new suitor (and Agents of SHIELD alum) BJ Britt is going to knock our
pants socks off.