4 items from 2016
"The suitor fake-proposing to one of these bimbos might have been interesting 14 seasons ago, but now we have an obligation to our viewers. We have to escalate the tension, up the stakes, complicate the story." It may just be a simple line of dialogue uttered by Quinn (Constance Zimmer) to Madison (Genevieve Buechner) during last night's season finale of UnREAL, but it might as well have been the central thesis for the Lifetime series' second season—with an emphasis on "complicate the story." While it may not have been a disaster of True Detective proportions (few things ever will be), what was once a thrilling and coherent peek behind the curtain at the artifice of reality TV became an incoherent »
Late in the second season premiere of the outstanding Lifetime drama UnREAL, Rachel (Shiri Appleby), a top producer on Everlasting, the Bachelor-esque show-within-the-show, bullies naive young subordinate Madison (Genevieve Buechner) into behaving despicably with one of the Everlasting contestants, all for the sake of a sound byte they can put into a promo. As a tearful Madison struggles with her terrible assigned task, Rachel begins playing Cyrano into her earpiece, controlling one woman in order to manipulate another. Asked later how it felt, Rachel — who, in UnREAL's first season, was presented as a reluctant, if talented, piece of the Everlasting machinery — smiles and replies, "Are you kidding? I feel like God." And when she and Madison next interact, it's not so the younger woman can scold her or quit this awful job, but so she can ask Rachel to teach her how to feel like God herself. This is UnREAL, »
- Alan Sepinwall
Two episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
Last year, I came away impressed with Lifetime’s dark new drama series UnREAL – far more than I ever expected to be going into a show that centered around the backstage drama of a fictional reality dating show called Everlasting. The debut season was searing and satisfying, but it took depth and finesse – both of which UnREAL has in spades – to eventually become what the opening hours teased; to become what I hoped it would after viewing the first three episodes: something truly special.
UnREAL season 2 is the fine-tuned realization of every one of my hopes last year. Co-creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro don’t miss a beat in transition, bobbing and weaving through every potential upset presented in the show’s premise with a ferocious energy. The caged-beast anger makes sense, too: Shapiro was a producer on The Bachelor for nine seasons, »
- Mitchel Broussard
Watching the second season of “UnReal” is like doing shots while riding a roller-coaster — a lot of dangerous ideas are careening around, and things could go off the rails at any moment. But what a bracing thrill-ride it is.
As was the case with the show’s debut season, which significantly boosted the reputation of Lifetime’s scripted programming, “UnReal’s” second go-round begins in highly addictive fashion, even if some of the gut-churning swerves in the new season’s first two episodes carry a frightening degree of difficulty. But it’s the show’s willingness to simultaneously plummet into dark places, plunge ahead with social commentary and provide pitch-dark satire that makes watching it such an exciting experience. Reality producers know you don’t want to be bored, and “UnReal” follows that mandate.
Not satisfied with targeting just the various kinds of misogyny lurking in the TV industry with its combination sledgehammer-and-scalpel approach, »
- Maureen Ryan
4 items from 2016
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