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My Thoughts on the UnREAL Premiere Tonight at 10/9c on Lifetime

It’s finally here. Seems like I’ve been talking about this for months, but the premiere of UnREAL happens tonight at 10/9c on Lifetime. For those just hearing about it, it’s a scripted television show that gives a fictitious look at what goes on behind-the-scenes of a reality dating show. It stars Constance Zimmer (Entourage, House of Cards) as Quinn, the executive producer and Shiri Appleby (Girls), as young producer Rachel whose sole job is basically to manipulate the relationships she has with the contestants on the show to get maximum effect. Lifetime approached me to help promote the show and I’ve been able to view the first few episodes. Let me tell you, it’s pretty spot on to what I’ve heard and reported happens on shows like these. As they dive deeper into the season, there is definitely some serious drama that I think the average fan doesn’t comprehend happens when the cameras aren’t rolling. I think a lot of you will definitely be surprised at what really goes on behind-the-scenes of these shows. Check out the latest trailer for the season:

One thing that you can take from this show is that normally on shows like this, we see the finished product. People watch, people tweet, and people react to what they see on their television when the show airs. However, getting to that point and seeing what extremes some producers will go to get that maximum effect is quite eye opening. UnREAL opens up a whole new world to the shenanigans that are pulled behind-the-scenes, not to mention how cleverly edited those acts are once they play out on camera. Rachel, for example, is a producer that, shall we say, has an interesting past with the show. You saw the clip I showed last Tuesday of the first 9 minutes where you can tell everyone on set knows who she is and what she’s done. It doesn’t take long for the audience to find that out either, as you’ll know by the end of the episode tonight exactly what in Rachel’s past with the show has her in the position she’s in.

The dating show itself, “Everlasting,” casts pretty much like you would expect most dating shows: the drama queen, the drinker, the one with the shady past, the hot older one, etc. The list goes on. We’ve seen this time and time again on these shows that we’re not so much watching two people try and fall in love, but we’re watching a carefully constructed, carefully edited, highly manipulated television show that is trying to do whatever they can to get people interested, which in turn, will draw in the best ratings. “Everlasting” certainly has done that by events that happened in their previous season, and they’re hoping to duplicate that this time around.

The cat fighting, the drama, and the manipulation all play a big part in the show, but when you dive deeper into it, there are definitely some more emotional and deep-seated issues within the context of these shows. You’ll see one in future episodes with Rachel and also one of the contestants on the show. Is it healthy? Is it exploitation? Or is it all about ratings and producers don’t care who they embarrass or who they shame to get their end result? You’ll find yourself asking yourselves the same questions as the season rolls along. Can you still attain good TV by not going to these lengths, or, is their behavior justified? UnREAL will take you on that ride every Monday.

Tune in tonight for the season premiere of UnREAL at 10/9c on Lifetime.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. rob22

    June 1, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    I’ve got UN-Real set for recording. It looked promising & the summer TV schedule is pretty grim. So, we’ll give it a shot. It looks like a good cast and a good concept. We’ll see if they pull it off.

  2. dpk1

    June 1, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    Funny how RS tried to change his writing style for this Lifetime “review.” LOL Although this is written a bit better than most of his other entries, he’s clearly not a writer. It’s also a little disingenuous, as he is usually juvenile and offensive in his entries. Nice try, though. LOL

  3. rob22

    June 1, 2015 at 3:04 PM

    I think RS was up front that he was in bed with Lifetime. So, wtih full disclosure, I’m OK with him making a buck and doing a commercial on his blog. For me it was a service because TV is really awful, especially in the summer, & so I am looking for something to record every week. Now if the show sucks, I’m going to say so right here.

    I also think RS would naturally like a show that is portraying exactly what RS has been writing about for years. How the show is phony & does whatever they have to do to get story lines to build ratings. And the show is a dead ringer for The Bachelor. No coincidence that they picked one of the most successful reality shows to mock. I think that’s exactly why Lifetime reached out to RS…. that and the thousands of people that read this site & follow him on Twitter. It’s a built in audience for them.

    Along those lines, I was watching Shark Tank and a product that one of the entrepreneurs was pushing had a social media campaign that was entirely built around having Snooki make positive tweets about their products. Snooki. Guess what? It was a successful campaign. It sounds like a terrible idea & sounded really sophomoric when they said it. But when they said their sales numbers, all the Sharks could do is say…. OK. Not bad. This is the way things are done these days folks. RS has built a following and some products/services are going to see value in that. Dude is probably doubling his income every year The Bachelor manages to continue to draw breath. As his following grows, so will his opportunities to make bank. This won’t last forever (will it?) Get it while you can.

  4. bitsyvonbusty

    June 1, 2015 at 4:37 PM

    So I should watch a scripted show based on making fun of reality shows that are essentially scripted.

    Sounds like a bore to me. No thanks.

  5. shouldbeworking

    June 1, 2015 at 7:53 PM

    UN Real – Well, I lasted 6 minutes. I don’t get all the hype. Now, tonights Sumo wrestling was funny !! I could have done without the sex ed group date. That was just weird with the kids present.

  6. rl1991

    June 1, 2015 at 8:14 PM

    OK. For those of us who are Bachelor/Bachelorette fans, I think UnReal is unsettling. The truth is we all know that Bachelor/Bachelorette is scripted/edited/manipulated, but I don’t like to see it. It takes away the whole fantasy and just isn’t fun to watch. I will give kudos to the character that plays Rachel. She is the only reason I may watch another episode. FYI, this may not be the most dramatic Bachelorette ever, but it sure is the funniest. Tony can go get his zen on, and Joe saying he learned about sex watching the cows on the farm was classic. It’s kind of sad Kaitlyn doesn’t end up with anyone, but I am going to enjoy the ride.

  7. rl1991

    June 1, 2015 at 8:22 PM

    Where is your commentary on tonight’s Bachelorette episode? People come on to read about the Bachelor/Bachelorette, not a show you’re paid to promote. I think you will lose a lot of fans if UnReal becomes your priority.

  8. jessicat

    June 1, 2015 at 8:32 PM

    I agree that it’s really obvious Steve is getting paid well to promote this show.

  9. elizabeth82

    June 1, 2015 at 8:51 PM

    jessicat, what you said.

    If you’ve followed this show and Steve’s column for years, you already know a lot of what goes on behind this show. It’s also just plain obvious how producer-manipulated it is. Why should we need to watch a show about it? After just watching “The Bachelorette” for two hours? No thanks

  10. elizabeth82

    June 1, 2015 at 8:57 PM

    (Sorry for double post, but no option to edit posts here.)

    shouldbeworking, I totally agree about the sex ed date. It didn’t even make it much better that the kids were actors.

    I think this episode may have been the single biggest ratings-ploy episode this franchise has ever churned out, between the sex ed, the exploitation of Kaitlyn & Ben Z.’s fears date, the Sumo attire, and the “brokeback bachelors” prank. Just sleazy and borderline offensive and insult to the viewers’ intelligence and attention spans. I liked last week’s episode because at least Amy Schumer provided some smart humor but this episode circled the toilet.

  11. cjscjs711

    June 1, 2015 at 9:13 PM

    I probably shouldn’t comment, because I was working and haven’t seen the show yet. But, kind of mixed feelings about behind-the-scenes and The-Making-Of shows. Especially a fictitious one. I’d be more interested in seeing how they coaxed specific lines from some of these dudes on this particular show – The Bachelorette. Or how many of these people are reading from cue cards. This season especially, a lot of people sure sound like they’re reading. So unenthusiastic.

    But a series that promotes general overall cynicism about the genre….. hmm. I’m with you, rl1991, being more cynical about everything does take away the fun.

    I always find it strange that Steve tries so hard to promote cynicism. Taking it to the extreme, if it’s ALL fake, why bother wasting one’s time? Seems like that direction would be promoting lower ratings. And that would almost be like trying to bury his own job…… Enigmatic…

  12. jest002

    June 1, 2015 at 11:08 PM

    I laughed a whole bunch honestly, especially at Joe’s unfortunate ball situation. Clint & JJ’s bromance was the only annoying part for me.

  13. shellyleit

    June 2, 2015 at 12:23 AM

    Does anyone remember the scripted “reality show” Siberia? It turned into a murder mystery. I actually thought it was real until it got so crazy I knew it couldn’t be.
    It’s obvious these shows are more and more edited. This season of the Bachelorette is starting to seem liked a scripted show.

  14. blyth5050

    June 2, 2015 at 5:05 AM

    this season is not helping the LGBT community with these two fools on here behaving the way they do the fact that they were most likely fooling around in the house and then having a girl kissing them and bragging about her lips tasting like them with the other guys it’s just disgusting as well as inappropriate and it doesn’t help with the way the world sees gay men.the fact that they would sit there and question the other guys sexuality and integrity is beyond me I am thoroughly disgusted with this seasons antics. Boys will be boys my ass

  15. rob22

    June 2, 2015 at 5:35 AM

    I couldn’t get through last night’s episode… so boring… so I never got to UN-Real. Will try again tonight. I am getting apprehensive about it being any good, though, because of the comments above. So, we know the show is fake…. so why do we need a show about the show being fake, right? That seems to be the consensus. Makes sense. I guess I’ll see.

    As for The Bachelorette, the rough part, along with me not being overly thrilled with Kaitlyn, is the guys. Geez. Is there at least one guy who’s not a moron, freak or tool? Honestly if there was ever a show where the black guys SHOULD be picked, it’s this one. They are the only guys that seem like pretty chill, nice guys. (Although one of them set my gay-dar off). Or, maybe that’s just the edit they got, who knows.

  16. serapa

    June 2, 2015 at 7:16 AM

    I loved watching Un-Real. it was so refreshing to get a sense of how these reality shows are produced. I thought it was fantastic. I have a new admiration for the Bachelor producers b/c manipulating people into doing crazy stuff, is an art in itself. Like the character said in Unreal last night, “They new what they were signing up for.”

  17. klm390

    June 2, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    Lol, I knew Lifetime had to be throwing money in Steve’s face for him to be obnoxiously going on about it.

  18. cpak258

    June 2, 2015 at 8:44 AM

    I loved UnREAL. It is exactly how I picture the bachelor/ette being filmed. I also read a lot of interviews this morning with old contestants/leads where they basically said it was spot on.

    It made me think about when Onion Ashley said she went down and saw them betting on the girls… I know Chris Harrison played it off that she saw them playing cards, but my guess is she was a little closer to the truth than that.

    I enjoyed it way more than that boring Bachelorette episode last night. I struggled to keep interest, which ususally doesn’t happen to me in this show.

  19. dogmomma

    June 2, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    I agree with everyone else… last night was boring and scripted and really hard to watch. This show’s attempt to make each season more “dramatic” that the previous ones is going to backfire. If the show doesn’t turn around soon, I won’t be able to watch. Last night was a train wreck, and not in a good, entertaining way.

  20. Cndgirl

    June 2, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    I LOVED the unreal show – I found it much more riveting than the actual show. Wow. I’ve been reading Steve’s columns for a half dozen years or so, and so I know how manipulated it is, but it is one thing to read about how it’s manipulative, and it’s a whole other to actually see how it happens, the nuances of it all. I’ve also had a bit of a weird admiration for those who put on ‘reality’ shows as you must have to be on your toes – its not ‘real’ but it’s also not scripted down to the word, all the time – so imagine you have to be pretty nimble, flexible, and it must be stressful. Certainly would take leaving your morality at the door – and I think I find the show fascinating as a study of that behaviour – and who can be that kind of person to do that work. You’d have to be pretty emotionless, cold. Even if they know what they signed up for, like the article Steve LinkedIn above, I don’t think they actually know what they really are signing up for.

    Also interesting in that article is how they hold their employees hostage with their work contract – they seem to own them too.

  21. Cndgirl

    June 2, 2015 at 9:19 AM

    Whoops, he must have tweeting that article link, it’s not above.

  22. jcrew617

    June 2, 2015 at 10:45 AM

    Unreal seems very, very negative and manipulative. Watched the whole episode, and Rachel may want to be a good person, but by the end she is just as horrible as Quinn. I suppose with these types of “love shows” the best drama is “bringing out the crazy emotions” whereas other reality shows are game-based or lifestyle based. There’s also the problem of having one bachelor, so that limits the flexibility, where in BIP there are multiple couples to create storylines. Its freaky that everything is scripted, they through in a jab about getting 911 calls (I wonder if Kelsey or production instigated the 911 call last season). Everything is scripted by the producers, and they essentially make the choices. I can see how producers want the “safe perfect-image final choice” like Whitney, Josh, Nikki, etc. to satisfy the audience desire for a fairytale ending. Every rose, even the final rose, is a farce that the producers choose and there is no free will to deviate from the fairytale storyline or crazy-person storyline.

  23. ifucsam

    June 2, 2015 at 4:26 PM

    @shellyleit My brother and I ended up watching it on premier night (we were watching whatever was on before and were too lazy to change the channel) and could not tell if it was real or not for a while! We watched a few episodes but eventually stopped, mostly just forgot. How did it end?

  24. itslaura77

    June 2, 2015 at 8:56 PM

    Thank you Steve, for the Grease 2 homage!! I was VERY excited about that. I watched the movie on repeat back in the summer of ’83, so I can relate!! It was also my very first record!!

  25. maruichan

    June 3, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    I’m not sure I like the character’s personal stories (the non-contestants) in unReal, though I guess you need some sort of delicate side drama as to not make the show’s editing process seem predictable. I found the contestant’s more relatable.

    The show needed a much better name than “unReal”. The show is alright. I will keep watching only because I need something else to watch every week.

  26. janeyk

    June 4, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    Thanks for the preview you posted. I turned it off after the typical, gratuitous slam against Republicans in the first 3 minutes. Was it necessary? Of course it was! Hypocritical Hollywood liberals fancy themselves “tolerant” and into “diversity” as long as you don’t dare disagree with them on politics or anything else. They show off they’re ignorance and hate on a regular basis.

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