Lifetime's UnREAL: 'Will You Stay With' the Bachelor-Skewering Drama?

UnREAL Premiere Recap

Lifetime on Monday night revealed an UnREAL (yet probably all-too-real) look at the making of a Bachelor-like reality-TV show. Will you make a second date with the freshman drama?

UnREAL stars Shiri Appleby (Life UneXpected) as Rachel, a top-shelf producer who hit rock bottom during her previous stint on Everlasting, the show-within-a-show, by drunkenly crashing its finale, tipping off a finalist that she was about to get dumped and for good measure driving off in the winning couple’s getaway convertible.

Even so, executive producer Quinn (Entourage‘s Constance Zimmer) knows that there are things only Rachel can get done in shaping a gaggle of girls and one Prince Charming into a compelling piece of TV, so she pulls some strings and gets her No. 1 producer back on the team (even if it means having a mousey intern fulfill her community service).

But boy, is Quinn’s gamble worth it. In her first day alone, Rachel 1) coerces Everlasting bachelor Adam (Harry Potter‘s Freddie Stroma) to sign his contract, 2) cleans up the mess when rival producer Shia clumsily coaches/distresses the cast’s resident Virgin (Betas‘ Breeda Wool), and 3) helps ID the Villain of the group.

Rachel also does some “damage,” though, when she nudges Adam to cast off the aforementioned Villain, Britney (Vampire Diaries alum Arielle Kebbel), much to Quinn’s outrage. (To her credit, Rachel then leads Britney to deliver a dramatic on-camera denouement.)

Elsewhere on the series’ ensemble, you have Craig Bierko (Boston Legal) as the Everlasting creator and Josh Kelly (One Life to Live) as Rachel’s cameraman ex, now engaged to a fellow staffer, while there’s great fun to be had identifying some of the women wooing Adam — including Once Upon a Time‘s Christie Laing (as violin-playing Shamiqua), Jericho‘s Ashley Scott (“MILF” Mary) and Body of Proof‘s Nathalie Kelley (hot-to-trot Grace).

All told, if even 10 percent of UnREAL is accurate — including Quinn’s unabashed penchant for assigning labels to “show pony” Adam and the assorted reality-TV stereotypes among her cast — it casts new aspersion on The Bachelor and its ilk.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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33 Comments
  1. Evan says:

    This is totally a guilty pleasure summer show so I’m in. The preview looks like it’ll only get crazier from here, so I’ll stay on board. It’s a pretty interesting look at the reality TV landscape, and I hope the show focuses more on that than the show-within-a-show itself. I also really like Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer so I’ll support them.

  2. Scott says:

    loved Shiri Appleby since Roswell and it’s great to see her back on tv

  3. Christy says:

    I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I love the lead actress in it! I know that there’s a lot of editing/leading in reality TV but their version seemed super insanely over the top crazy. But honestly I have no idea how accurate it is.

    • dude says:

      I’d imagine what we saw them accomplish in one episode is about what they get done in a season. I can’t imagine even on television that THAT much backstabbing happens in one night of production.

  4. dude says:

    Best thing Lifetime has ever done. This is going to be SUCH a guilty pleasure and I love it.

  5. Kiki says:

    Creator Sarah Shapiro worked on The Bachelor. It was her first job in TV. She threatened suicide to get out of her contract and only when she agreed to leave the state to prove she wasn’t being poached by a rival show did they let her go. There’s a great interview on the LA Times website.

  6. Ram510 says:

    Great show! Total surprise, didn’t expect to enjoy this one so much. The show seems over the top, but I’d imagine it’s actually not too far from reality, Hollywood isn’t as creative as they want us to think. I hope this one sticks around for a few seasons

  7. Since says:

    So much for calling it the Breaking Bad of Lifetime… The writing is just as bad as the reality tv they’re making.

  8. Carol C says:

    My new summer guilty pleasure. Addictive.

  9. Carol C says:

    So happy to see Constance Zimmer again.

  10. jbj says:

    I thought it was very compelling!

  11. liame says:

    Another guilty pleasure, come on! Stop doing this to me, I can’t keep up with my recordings.

  12. Dennis says:

    Liz Parker is all grown!!

  13. Lauren says:

    THANK YOU! It was bugging me all episode where I knew the British guy from. I mainly watched because I’m a Shiri Appleby fan, but I actually really enjoyed the show itself. I’m definitely going to keep tuning in. I’m surprised Arielle Kebbel was kicked off the fake show so soon, I thought she’d be a regular. I thought she did a really good job, and I thought her character had a lot of potential. As someone who has watched maybe two episodes of the Bachelor, this makes me even more horrified of it.

  14. cuius says:

    Great show – hopefully can become the death knell of “reality” TV – could be the modern day equivalent of Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show” in relation to game shows

  15. c-mo says:

    I’m not a Bachelor or Bachelorette viewer at all but I have a feeling that for those who are, if they catch even one episode of this show, they will watch those shows with a very different mindset. If even 1% of this show is accurate, I’m not sure there are enough qualified mental health professionals to help with the fallout.

  16. robandco says:

    Ok, after reading the numerous positive reviews I gave it a try and it was worth it!
    I really enjoyed the behind the scenes aspect and of course all the DRAMA. That last scene alone got me hooked!

  17. I loved the premiere. I totally picture shows like the Bachelor being like this. I also love Shiri Appleby ever since watching her on Roswell. Can’t wait to see episode 2

  18. Gerald says:

    Do they have to air it on the same night as the Bachelorette? I am a little overloaded with that stuff, but I will watch anything with Shiri Appleyby.

  19. Erica says:

    UnReal was ok, but is there a larger story at play. Like what caused her nervous breakdown? Or is this more of an out-of-control, self-loathing, addictive personality series, like House?

  20. Fanology says:

    I’m surprised none of the recaps have mentioned “Who Wants To Marry Ryan Banks.” Or am I the only one who remembers that before-he-was-THE-Bradley-Cooper TV movie. This show feels like the smarter, more subversive cousin of that guilty pleasure.

    • Lara says:

      The movie was called I want to Marry Ryan Banks or now its sometimes aired as Reality of Love. I’m surprised no one mentions that either.

  21. Mary says:

    I watched it and will definitely watch it again, but it seems a little uneven to me. I’m not sure how they are going to keep it from becoming too soap opera. I thought it was going to be another version of Burning Love, which was so funny. I’m glad it’s not just comedy but the drama may be too overwrought. If I start to wince, I’ll have to quit.

  22. Jared says:

    Josh Kelly is so handsome it hurts to look at him.

  23. Debjoy19 says:

    Very interesting show. Watched 3 episodes so far of it. U can watch all 4 episodes on lifetime and 2 are early and air in a week or two. It’s great so I don’t have e to wait for them to air. Reality steve talked about this show and that’s how I found out about it. He said it’s pretty close to what goes on and how manipulative the show really is. Very sad to think how all they care about is ratings on the bachelor. Love that show too but it’s hard to know what goes on behind the scenes. Good show so far!

  24. Mikehl says:

    The only problem I’m having with the show, is that this is a faux reality show based on the making of a faux reality show, based on a real reality show that is really false. You all do understand that ‘behind’ the people you see ‘behind the scenes’ of Everlasting, are producers, directors, camerapeople, all going through the same agony of getting a show to airtime, trying to get the wonderful actors you all brag on, to hit their marks, show the right amount of attitude, cry/break down/act idiotic all on cue. Are the real staff behind UnReal at all like the staff they are filming? I’d guess, yes.