WHAT IT’S ABOUT Contestant suicide? Runaway bride?
Backstage drama “UnREAL” went there. Its dark, witty, lacerating tale of the machinations behind a TV “suitor” show made it last year’s must-watch, stunning observers who presumed little of Lifetime and got this killer kick.
Kudos to co-creators Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (who had worked on ABC’s “The Bachelor”) and Marti Noxon (sneaky-smart “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). Sure, their royal bachelor and his live-in playmates were fascinating: some naive, some scheming, others opportunistic. But the show’s production crew? OMG! One hot mess of drugs, sex, duplicity, backstabbing, omnivorous manipulation. How could Season 2 top that?
Go deeper. New “suitor” Darius (B.J. Britt) is a black pro quarterback in need of image rehab who rolls in with his posse. “Iron spine” showrunner Quinn (Constance Zimmer, just give her the Emmy already) predicts “Twitter will melt down” when her crew baits “a hot racist” with “an even hotter black activist.” Never mind “a super sexy Pakistani woman” they’ll link to terrorists. Quinn’s producer protegee, Rachel (powder keg Shiri Appleby), may be coming off a “hypersexual manic episode,” or still riding one. Dense studio slob Chet (comic gem Craig Bierko), refreshed through his manly “cave man brain fart” quest to Patagonia, aims to snatch the show from Quinn (his ex). But wait. Here come the cunning network execs.
MY SAY Twists, turns and new depths of depravity abound. Races collide. Sexes battle. Crew members pick sides, fired by ambition and/or “self-loathing about working here.” Whip-smart and skintight, Season 2 clicks like clockwork. You’re appalled, you’re LOL, you can’t wait to see next week. (The network has already ordered Season 3.)
BOTTOM LINE Rachel nails it: “We don’t solve problems, OK? We create them, and then we point cameras at them.”