How Real is UnREAL?

Recently I binge-watched an entire season of UnREAL (aptly named) in one weekend and was left with just one thought: What the hell just happened?

UnReal - SSS

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Lifetime’s UnREAL is a ‘real’ take on the life behind-the-scenes of a reality TV show. With an amazing cast, a strong premise and a fast-paced, gripping storyline, UnREAL quickly became an addiction for me.

A dark, grimy take on the entertainment industry, the series uncovers the seedy underbelly of reality TV while still remaining in the realm of fiction. Half-truth, half rumors; it is up to the viewer to decide what to believe.

Whenever I watch a new show, I tend to root for some of the characters. Depending on the show, it could be the OTP (one true pairing) couple, the one that’s vilified or the character that I most identify with. With this show, my loyalties kept changing. Each twist uncovered another level of human motivation, another layer to the characters. In the world of UnREAL, everything was a game. No one and nothing is what they seem.

What I loved most and despised about this show was that every single character was firmly rooted in the ‘grey’ area. Sides keep changing, the motivations of the characters changed and as the viewer; you’re constantly left trying to grapple with your own intrinsic sense of right and wrong. Would you make the same decisions as Rachel or Adam? Would you condemn Shia’s behavior or in some twisted way would you empathize the extent to which work pressures might drive you to? Could a love that’s based upon greed and power, twisted beyond recognition, still be a form of love?

There are so many moments in the plot where you pause and wonder what choice you would have made if you were in their shoes. While the plot doesn’t revolve around darker issues like adultery, bulimia, vengeance, emotional blackmail or rape, it digs deep enough to make you wonder about them. Which side of the coin do you fall on? What evils would you condone and where would you draw the line?

UnReal 1

Image Credit: James Dittiger/ IMDB

Although I’d like to believe that I have my priorities straight on most issues, even I had a difficult time convincing myself just where I would draw the line in these situations. Dark and thought-provoking, this show is one that stays with you, one that you could spend hours analyzing. From start to finish, those ten episodes had me gripped. And the season finale wasn’t any different.

Unlike most dramas these days, the season finale didn’t end on a cliffhanger but rather on a pregnant pause. Most of the story angles were resolved without giving the viewer any sense of closure. The final scene had a sense of finality, a sense of acceptance, a sense of anticipation and a sense of dread. (You’ll have to watch it to know what I mean.)

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Image Credit: James Dittiger/ IMDB

For those who have seen the show, I’d love to hear if the show was as intriguing for you as it was for me.


One thought on “How Real is UnREAL?

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