Lifetime’s UnREAL is the television surprise of the summer. The series is a smart, pulpy behind-the-scenes look at a fictional reality show that is basically The Bachelor, and on this show, there is way more drama behind the scenes than on camera. The cast and crew of the fiction show Everlasting are ambitious, damaged, and sexy in all the best ways. Characters collide unexpectedly each week, and the result is always fireworks.
Last night marked the second to last episode of the UnREAL’s first season. This penultimate installment was full of twists and set the stage perfectly for a wild finale. As we look forward to next week’s season-ending shocker, let’s look back at the most wonderfully crazy moments so far. Here are 10 times UnREAL has been the Realest show on television.
Anna’s Dad’s Funeral (Ep. 2)Lifetime
The pilot introduced us to Rachel (Shiri Appleby), a young producer recovering from a breakdown and ready to walk away from reality TV forever. By the second episode, it was clear that this season would only take her further into the heart of darkness. Apparently, reality TV is like the Mafia: the harder you try to get out the more they pull you back in. She spent the entirety of episode two manipulating Anna (Johanna Braddy) as she attempted to capitalize on her father’s death. When she used Anna’s brother to keep the mourning daughter in Everlasting’s clutches, we learned that Rachel just might be capable of anything.
Roger Sexually Assaults Maya (Ep. 3)Lifetime
We all know what it’s like to have those friends who inconveniently drop by, but Adam’s (Freddie Stroma) mate Roger (Tom Brittney) is the ultimate unwelcome houseguest. After turning the Everlasting set into a hedonistic pool party, Roger moves from obnoxious douche to full-on sexual predator status with a very drunk Maya (Natasha Wilson).
Adam Literally Seals the Deal (Ep. 4)Lifetime
Some business transactions require a little something extra. Usually, this means some kind words, a nice meal, or a firm handshake. For Adam, this meant plowing an investor’s wife while some aging slimeballs watched and nursed glasses of scotch.
Faith Almost Comes Out (Ep. 5)Lifetime
Faith (Breeda Wool) has been one of UnREAL’s most compelling characters. Her earnest Southern charm combined with her tomboy awkwardness made her instantly endearing. When the show went back to her hometown and we watched her almost change her entire life in a moment, our hearts were in our throats until she was interrupted at the last second.
Mary Commits Suicide (Ep. 6)Lifetime
You felt bad for Mary (Ashley Scott) pretty much right off the bat, and if you know anything about the rules of soap operas, you knew that meant she wasn’t long for this world. Her gradual stumble into drugged-out despair spurred on by booze and the prodding of Everlasting’s producers was tough to watch. When she said goodbye to her daughter, you knew it was for the last time, and that didn’t make her sudden exit any easier to handle.
Rachel and Jeremy Reunite (Ep. 7)Lifetime
This was less of a “will they, won’t they” and more of a “when are they going to make that mistake again?” When Jeremy (Josh Kelly) managed to put a stop to things during their erotic Southern barn encounter, you thought that maybe he had escaped writing another chapter of doomed romance with Rachel. A couple episodes later we learned that just because Jeremy is a nice guy doesn’t mean he isn’t just a self-destructive as everyone else on UnREAL.
Quinn Orders a Cover-Up (Ep. 7)Lifetime
UnREAL proves again and again that sometimes words can be just as awful as actions. Quinn’s (Constance Zimmer) calculating response to Shia’s (Aline Elasmar) role in Mary’s death was just as hard to watch as any of the violent or sexual betrayals we’ve seen so far. Zimmer’s ability to play a cold woman extinguishing every last bit of her humanity for the sake of ambition has been one of the great pleasures of UnREAL. With her speech to Rachel in this scene, she proved that there’s no limit to how low she can go.
Rachel Bangs Adam (Ep. 7)Lifetime
When we saw that Rachel was boning Jeremy, it was like, “Duh.” When she finally hooked up with Adam, it was like “Oh, shit!” Their nighttime snuggle in episode seven and their enviably great sex in episode eight paid off a season’s worth of erotic tension. You never know exactly who has the power in this relationship, but you can be pretty sure it’s going to end in a hot, sweaty, terrible mess.
The PA Gets in on the Action (Ep. 8 )Lifetime
It turns out that even sweet, innocent Madison (Genevieve Buechner) isn’t immune to the dirty sexual politics of Everlasting. For most of the season we watched her fetch coffee and deliver worried reports to the higher-ups. Once she gets the chance to play the power game, she is just as down as everyone else in this rotten world.
On UnREAL, no one is innocent, not even the intern with the pigtails.
Quinn Blows Up Rachel’s Spot (Ep. 9)Lifetime
The final episode of UnREAL looks like it’s going to involve a Quinn-Rachel showdown that puts Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker to shame. Quinn is convinced that Rachel is destined to become just like her. Rachel (or at least a part of Rachel) wants to resist her dark powers. When Quinn stumbles upon footage of Rachel and Adam getting hot and heavy, she knows she has just the leverage she needs.
As far as Quinn is concerned, Rachel is going to become her, even if she has to drag her into it kicking and screaming.