9 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘UnREAL’Published on June 2, 2016. Updated February 26, 2018
Reality television has taken over and, as television fans know, the more salacious the reality series is, the better it does. Lifetime’s UnREAL has turned this on its head, however, by making a parody out of the success that show’s such as The Bachelor achieve, and giving a real and dark look at what really happens behind-the-scenes. By using Everlasting as the Bachelor-esque show, and with the mind of Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (who had worked on the Bachelor in real life), UnREAL offers a perspective on reality shows that’s never been explored and is often glossed over as fans choose to ignore how fake they really are. Without a doubt, this show should be watched by everyone who loves reality TV, specifically the Bachelor, as well as those who hate it because UnREAL will cater to both types. Check out 9 things you didn’t know about the show!
9. Sequin Raze
UnREAL is inspired by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s award-winning short film Sequin Raze. Shapiro had in real-life worked on the hit reality series The Bachelor, and after getting the behind-the-scenes look of the “reality” show, she made her experience into Sequin Raze.
When it comes down to it, UnREAL is the TV show about the behind-the-scenes reality of another TV show, Everlasting. Needless to say this is a little confusing for cast and crew, especially when it comes to filming because there are UnREAL’s cameras and their crew and then there are Everlasting‘s cameras and crew. Star B.J. Britt, who plays Darius, stated, “It’s hard to wrap your brain around it. I’ve gone up to a bunch of people and asked, ‘Where is so-and-so?’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t work here, I’m just an actor,’ so I’m like, ‘Ah! I’m so sorry!’ You don’t know which cameras are rolling, and it’s confusing, but it keeps you on your A game.” Considering all the stuff normally hidden in TV shows that are supposed to be seen, it makes production easier for UnREAL, with actor Michael Rady stating, “It’s just interesting to watch this show get made, because they can use all of their camera trucks as prop trucks, and they don’t have to hide their lights. It helps production move along more smoothly… the things that normally have to be hidden don’t have to be worried about.”
7. The Bechdel Test
At this point, almost everyone is aware of the Bechdel Test, and the problem that many films and television series are still not able to pass it, although one of the best things about UnREAL is that it does. Creators Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Marti Noxon proudly stated, “Passed it, smashed it, murdered it,” referring to the “it” as the Bechdel Test. “Our women talk about everything, from their careers, to their life, to their morals, to their goals, to their families,” Shapiro said. Some of that is largely due to the source material: dating shows like the Bachelor are, in Noxon’s words, “not relationship shows about boys and girls: these are relationships about girls and girls.”
6. Changing Lifetime
Many fans of the series are very surprised to learn that the network responsible for such a dark and different show such as UnREAL was actually Lifetime, known for it’s overly-cheesy and soapy shows and made-for-TV films. “It’s interesting because in both the shows I’m doing right now, so much of the content is about sexual politics and kind of overly feminist themes and it just seems like there’s much more of an appetite for that than there was even four or five years ago, where you can say ‘I’m going to make a show about women who are pretty bossed up, in all facets, good and bad,” Noxon says. “I think I’m doing some work I couldn’t have done on television five years.” She added, “We were trying to make an FX show that just happens to be on Lifetime.”
Shiri Appleby is the actress behind the lead character producer Rachel Goldberg and to make everything as authentic as possible, she uses way less makeup and costume time than any other actress on a TV series. “It’s 20 minutes start to finish, hair and makeup both,” she explained. “We shoot two episodes at a time, we do one bun – the same thing for two episodes – they set it with pins, and I’m like ‘I’ll see you guys at the end of the day to give the pins back.’ I’m running around, I’m doing things – of it looks pretty, it looks fake.”
4. Web Series
After the show’s immediate success, in January 2016 Lifetime announced that they were developing a spin-off web series based on the character Faith, who is a “shy insecure Christian virgin,” who realizes she is actually a lesbian and in love with her best friend from back home. Breeda Wool reprised her role as Faith for the 10-webisode series entitled The Faith Diaries which premiered on April 13, 2016.
3. No Fairytales
By striving to bring to light what actually happens when it comes to producing reality TV, UnREAL focuses on the obsession of viewers over shows like The Bachelor and tries to bring them back to the reality of the situation. Shapiro stated, “Viewers want to believe in fairy tales, and those reality shows tap into that want. Our show dismantles that want.” Marti Noxon added, “We thought uncovering the behind-the-scenes machinations would make great stories, and we wanted to comment on the kind of bully culture of a lot of reality television.”
2. Real Love
In a twist of irony considering the show’s basis of giving an inside look on the manipulation and editing that goes into finding “true love” on a television show, two of the stars actually did fall in love. Freddie Stroma, who played the “Bachelor” character Adam Cromwell, and co-star Johanna Braddy, who portrayed contestant Anna Martin, fell for each other after meeting on set in 2015 and they were married in 2016.
UnREAL‘s fresh take on reality television and it’s dark truths hit home with a lot of critics and fans, garnering mostly positive reviews from both after first airing on June 1, 2015. It received a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Entertainment Weekly wrote, “If you love The Bachelor, you’re going to like UnREAL. If you hate The Bachelor, you’re going to like UnREAL.”