Alternatively: Money, dick, power.
Appleby and Zimmer as Rachel and Quinn with their new tattoos.
An Amazon prime exclusive, ‘UnREAL’ is a darkly comic portrayal of the chaos surrounding the production of a reality dating competition. Its star, Rachel Goldberg, played by the fantastic Shiri Appleby, is responsible for the production of this fictitious world alongside her striking boss, and showrunner, Quinn King (Constance Zimmer). It is the friendship formed between these two women which lends ‘UnREAL’ its soul and credibility as they fight to support and protect each other in the face of gender and power inequality. ‘UnREAL’ is based upon Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s own experience of being a producer on the popular show ‘The Bachelor,’ though dramatically heightened and satirised.
Indeed if you’re interested in reading an article which takes the form of an interview with Shapiro discussing her work on ‘The Bachelor’ in more detail click here. This New Yorker review sheds light on the importance of Rachel being first shown wearing a t-shirt saying ‘This is what a feminist looks like,’ Shapiro explains she had to fight the TV execs for this particular fragment of her vision to be realised.
The show’s unofficial slogan (as far as I’m concerned), ‘money, dick, power,’ is introduced at the opening of the second season where we see Rachel and Quinn both getting these words vertically tattooed on their wrists as a lasting symbol of their alliance. ‘UnREAL’ honours these women’s proud and hungry sexuality as they bang fellow colleagues, show contestants and well pretty much everyone except each other. Not to be a tease but there’s plenty of sex and heartbreak in each season of ‘UnREAL’ though, as Shapiro herself would want me to emphasise, that is never the show’s core focus. Shapiro comes across as especially self-congratulatory which New Yorker interview when she describes her pride at the fact season one easily passed the Bechdel test.
‘UnREAL’ is addictive and moving. You will fall in love with the show’s female protagonists (Appleby and Zimmer) as much as you might despise their actions. “Screw Coleman and screw your mom because believe it or not all that crap that happened to you made you who you are, and you’re perfect.” Quinn says to Rachel in the uber-intense Season Two finale. Despite all of Rachel’s “baggage” (as her mental health problems are referred to constantly in the show) Quinn reminds her that she is still worthy of being loved and that – more importantly – she is loved. If you want to be brought to tears, doubled up in laughter and shocked beyond belief look no further than ‘UnREAL’. It delivers on every front.