Pilot: “UnReal”

Sometimes a pilot episode has little left to do. The only thing is reinforce every opinion and expectation you’ve had for some time. It more or less means the marketing was very effective, but also that the content that will make up this show is quite good.

The A+E Productions “UnReal”, is an incredibly dark, twisted, and juicy show that I had a hard time looking away from.

This drama series stars Shiri Appleby (“Elementary”, “Girls”), Craig Bierko (“Unforgettable”, “The Michael J. Fox Show”), Freddie Stroma (“Pitch Perfect 2”, “The Inbetweeners 2”), Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (“Stray (Short 2015)”, “Grave Encounters 2”), Johanna Braddy (upcoming series “Quantico”, “Video Game High School”), Aline Elasmar (“Extant”, “Bones”), Nathalie Kelley (“Furious Seven”, “Infiltrators”), Josh Kelly (upcoming “Prisoner of War (Short 205)”, “Jarhead 2: Field of Fire”), Ashley Scott (“Holiday Road Trip”, “The Nightmare Nanny”), Breeda Wool (“Film School Shorts”, “Betas”), and Constance Zimmer (“Complications” “Entourage (2015)”).

The series was created by Mari Noxon (“Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce”, “Fright Night (2011)”) and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (“Sequin Raze (Short 2013)”, “2nd Best (Short 2012)”).

The series premiered on June 1, 2015 on Lifetime.

Full disclosure, I actually watched this pilot over again. Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve seen it three times since the beginning of June. I just didn’t get around to writing it originally and really didn’t want to miss out before the end of the season, which is tonight. The season finale is tonight! What?! Where did the time go? While I’m definitely late to the party on opinions of the pilot, I’ve heard it’s better than never showing up at all.

First thing I noticed, and it really surprised me, is how much this pilot made me want to continue on and watch the other eight episodes again. It was that exciting and fun, one would think it was my first time watching.

Most of this fun is driven by Zimmer. She’s something else. As this begins she’s the tough as nails executive producer who wants a really, really good show. This means do anything to steer the female contestants (all vying for Stroma’s heart) into a situation they want, or as close to one as possible, or even the next best thing.It doesn’t take long to see that Zimmer is quite capable of this and loves it. It’s also what does make you kind of dislike her. She’s a bit slimy because of this. However, as I discovered again, that didn’t bother me. Somehow this just made her far more interesting and I like her. I can’t wait to see what happens next for her.

Appleby’s character is, well, she’s a hot mess. That’s all there really is to say. She’s back after having a breakdown last season, and that alone supplies a lot of drama. The interesting thing, which learn more about later, is that while she’s doing this job, she never looks too pleased about it. After we meet her, as the camera pulls out and focuses on the sunroof of the limo, just one look at her face, on her expression, says it all. As things progress we learn that she too is a vicious person when it comes to manipulating the women for a much more juicy and exciting experience. But, again, she’s never too pleased about this. It seems to torment her.

As this is a drama, there’s plenty of it. Not just with Appleby’s characters return, but with all the behind the scenes aspects of this show. They are shooting a fictional dating show after all. This episode showed a lot of drama between the people that work on the show and the contestants that quickly had me hooked. It was fun, juicy, funny, and had some twisty moments. In terms of juicy, it’s somehow different from previous shows with the billing of soap opera. Shows like “Desperate Housewives”, “Revenge”, or even “Devious Maids” and “Empire” have that juicy soap opera feel, which is great, but here it’s different. It’s absolutely intriguing and there’s a level of intelligence that could’ve been missing on any other network.

This show is also quite funny. The humor is woven in and out, and compliments many characters. There were several lines of dialogue that I absolutely loved and just moments that made me laugh. When the women can’t hold it anymore and leave the limo to urinate, that whole scene was done wonderfully. There was also the line from one of them towards Wool, “That’s not a bush that’s a freaking shrub”. In case you were wondering, or forgot, even Zimmer had some clever lines of dialogue that only helped me love her character all the more.

By the time we see the first woman voted off of Everlasting, we’ve got a very good sense of what this show is going to be like. There’s so many obvious reasons to watch or not because of dislike, but it’s important to note too, that there’s a bit of commentary going on. Unless you’re a political show, maybe not just, it seems that most shows don’t really have any kind of commentary going on. They’re just an entertaining show and that’s it. Some shows, like “Mad Men”, possibly (haven’t seen it), probably have commentary going on about the time period, but that’s a special brand of show that isn’t just entertaining, but good. Hopefully this show can keep that going among all the other fun and twisted stories that come about in the next season.

The instantly addictive trailer


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