UNREAL Reality.

Unreal debuted yesterday on Lifetime. The series follows Rachel, a staffer on a reality show, as she forges relationships with the contestants to get that “critical piece of footage.”

I’m a big fan of reality television. I watch Big Brother every year, was a fan of Joe Millionaire and have watched plenty of odd series through the years. (Anyone remember Inner Beauty?)

But, like most people, I did question how ‘real’ these shows were. With Big Brother in particular, for a small fee, you can watch the house live. I would see an event play out in real time. On the show, the event would be out of order, would cut out a moment, etc. I’d take to the message boards, blasting the producers for ‘manipulating’ the footage.

With Joe Millionaire, who can forget when the show used “slurp sounds” and showed footage of a large bushy area, to imply ‘Joe’ and one of the girls was doing the nasty?

With ‘Unreal’, manipulating the show-within-a-show is what the series is all about.

Rachel works on Everlasting, which is a clear reference to The Bachelor. It’s the first night of shooting a new season, and she better not screw up. The season before, she interrupted ‘The Bachelor’ as he was about to dump one of the girls on finale night. This included damaging the set and taking off in a crew member’s car. So, Rachel is on her best behavior tonight.

Rachel, played by Shiri Appleby.

Rachel, played by Shiri Appleby.

While we don’t know Rachel’s actual job title, she mainly spends the episode talking with contestants, getting them to act a certain way for the cameras. Faith is the virgin of the group. The producer wants her to be ‘the one we root for’, but Faith is staying away from ‘The Bachelor.’ With some coaxing, Rachel convinces Faith to approach him and the Producer gets the ‘heart to heart’ she needs.

Faith, the virgin, played by Breeda Wool.

Faith, the virgin, played by Breeda Wool.

Then, there’s Brittany, who the Producer wants as the villain. Things don’t go as planned, but it is Rachel who manages to get her to cry right into camera A. “We can use that in the promo!’ says one of the crew members.

Brittany, the villain, played by Arielle Kebbel.

You might be privy to the real life scandal on The Bachelorette, where the promos are making it look like two of the male contestants are falling in love. There’s probably a ‘Rachel’ there, right?

While Unreal is fictional, it is important to note, the writer of this show was a staffer on The Bachelor in the early days. As a writer, even if you aim to create something competently fictional, there is always some truth to your stories.

UNREAL looks like it’ll be a fantastic series, combining reality with scripted drama. The pilot sure had me on the edge of my seat. It made me question my anger at these Big Brother producers. Yes, we want it to be ‘real’. But, maybe, there does have to be a little coaching so we get an entertaining show.

Unreal airs Mondays on Lifetime.

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