Using the familiar Bachelor format as a setting for a scintillating and scandalous satire of reality TV, Lifetime’s blistering drama UnReal thrilled critics and audiences last summer. So how will creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro try to top themselves with season two? They’re doing something The Bachelor/The Bachelorette has never dared in their 14 years: have a black bachelor.
Next season on the faux-reality show within a show “Enchanted,” the lusted after bachelor will be Darius Hill, an African-American pro football player. TV Line revealed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s B.J Britt has been tapped to take on the role, noting, “With a million-dollar smile, sweetness and swagger, Darius is the whole package — and his casting marks a huge win for Quinn (Constance Zimmer) and Rachel (Shiri Appleby). Hoping to charm his way out of a PR scandal, Darius has no idea that the ride he’s about to take on “Everlasting” will change his life forever.”
But this isn’t a superficial casting choice meant to curry favor for being more progressive than the series it lampoons. Race will be a big topic this season. “We don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel,” Shapiro told THR, adding, “In an era where driving while black is dangerous, there are few things more pressing than this conversation. We really want to keep talking about stuff that we’re passionate about.”
Race was an element of season one, most notably when producer Jay (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) tried to convince an educated black woman (Christie Laing) to turn “rachet hoochie” for the cameras. She refused and so was ousted from the house, but an aspiring salon owner (Natasha Burnett)—willing to play into racial stereotypes if it meant fame—was game. It was one of many moments of moral compromise on the show, and seemingly one that sparked season two’s direction.
“The writers room has been super intensive so far but in a great way,” Shapiro explained, “I feel like I’m thinking about race differently than I was four weeks ago because of the conversations we’ve been having. They can be incredibly uncomfortable but that’s what our show is about, being incredibly uncomfortable.”
Speaking of incredibly uncomfortable, those burnt bridges of soured romance from season one will come back to scorch UnReal’s antiheroines Rachel and Quinn. Craig Bierko will return as Quinn’s ex-fiance, Chet, and Josh Kelly will reprise his role as Rachel’s seething former flame, Jeremy, A.K.A. THE WORST. There’s no word on if Adam (Freddie Stroma) will pop in to shake things up. But with Stroma joining Game of Thrones, his dance card may be full.
UnReal will return to Lifetime next summer. But you can catch up on season one once it hits Hulu on February 3rd.
Kristy Puchko suggests you binge the whole lot over a weekend. You won’t regret it.