Women and Hollywood’s TV critic Sara Stewart concluded her glowing review of Lifetime’s “UnReal” by saying that she hoped the first season of the show “is a big enough hit that Lifetime brings ‘UnReal’ back for more.” We’re in luck: After airing only five episodes, the network confirmed it has ordered a second season of the drama, which was recently named Most Exciting New Series at the Critics’ Choice Awards. The order will see “UnReal” returning next year with ten episodes.
“UnReal” offers viewers insight into the world of reality television by granting us access to behind-the-scenes of “Everlasting,” a “Bachelor”-esque dating series. Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who co-created “UnReal” with Marti Noxon (“Mad Men,” “Buffy”), worked on “The Bachelor” franchise for six seasons. Shapiro and Noxon confirmed that the horrific dehumanization of contestants that goes on producing “Everlasting” is inspired by what actually happened during Shapiro’s tenure on “The Bachelor.” “The women are hot boxed,” they told The New York Times. In addition to being regularly “starved out” by producers, the aspiring women are “put in a house with no media, no music, no books, no magazines, nothing. Just each other and booze. So they literally develop a Stockholm syndrome, where the only way you get out is through the bachelor.”
With undercurrents this dark, you can bet “UnReal” is bleak fare — it’s also incredibly absorbing, and painfully well-observed. Shiri Appleby stars as Rachel, a producer on “Everlasting.” The self-identifying feminist is full of contradictions. She holds a job that requires her to manipulate and degrade women — and she excels at it.
“We couldn’t be more proud to bring back ‘UnReal,’” said Liz Gateley, Lifetime’s exec VP and programming head. “With authentically flawed characters, sharp storytelling and impeccable performances, this show is propelling our brand in a truly exciting direction — an unexpected and bolder Lifetime. We are thrilled to continue our work with Marti and Sarah and the incredible A+E Studios team, as we together bring a new generation of viewers to Lifetime.”
The new generation of viewers Gately mentions is a nod to the fact that “UnReal” viewers skew younger than typical Lifetime audiences — in fact, according to Variety, “UnReal” “rings in its youngest demographic ever for a scripted series” with “a median age of 43.”
The sixth episode of “UnReal” aired last night. Tune in to see new episodes on Lifetime Mondays at 10 pm.