Another week of UnREAL, another week where I don’t really know what essential honesty is. If I’m being (essentially?) honest, it just seems like sobriety for Rachel — and more importantly, celibacy — are the things she’s achieving. As for the “honesty” … she’s still purposely keeping information from people who deserve to know it. This week’s episode proves as much.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the giant red rose in the room: Last week also happened to be the finale of the actual Bachelor, UnREAL’s reality-show forefather. As expected, it was a mess, but in a twist, Bachelor Arie managed to accomplish (?) something that no other Bachelor has done before. He chose a fiancée and then proceeded to dump her and choose the other woman. You could say that ratings were down and The Bachelor did what it took to survive, even including “unedited and uncut” footage of the breakup. But the entire thing felt real. Even Chris Harrison looked uncomfortable.
How can UnREAL even compete with the real thing? They can’t exactly grapple with the The Bachelor’s latest antics, but all of this behind-the-scenes drama is more relevant than ever, as people ask over and over again: What exactly happened here? What exactly did the producers know? What exactly did they do? Bachelor insiders would tend to lean toward the answer: everything, as L.A. Times writer Amy Kaufman details in her new book, Bachelor Nation. Just take this bit about the show’s dreaded Fantasy Suites, from an excerpt published in Vanity Fair:
“Women really felt like it was creepy and weird,” the producer recalled. “So you just have to say, ‘Look, this is just the way the show works. It’s not his fault. Are you feeling it? Do you feel like you’re ready to go to that level yet? Because now’s your chance — just saying.’ And once they get on the date with him, it all goes away. It’s their world and there’s no one else there.”
This reads an awful lot like the dialogue in UnREAL — the producer’s expert coercion could be taken right out of the mouth of Rachel. So, what’s happening this week in the world of Everlasting?
For one, Quinn’s still banging August — a.k.a., the guy with the man bun that’s apparently not long for this world. His man bun, I mean. Not him. He seems like he’ll be sticking around for quite a while. Not only is Quinn totally into him (and denial), he’s totally into her. After Rachel puts August and Serena on a one-on-one date, she quickly falls head-over-heels for the do-gooder, while he sends not-so-hidden messages to Quinn, who’s watching in the control room. Even Rachel notices, after a combo of cranberry juice and UTI meds (“Who’s the lucky guy?” she’d asked Quinn) provide the giveaway. No wonder Quinn’s soured on August as a “wifey” for Serena. She wants him for herself.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a gorgeous mock-up of a fake Us Weekly cover story, starring our suitor:
That’s right, she’s all over the pages of Oh No! Magazine. My new favorite.
(Honestly, a near-perfect match to the real thing.)
In last week’s episode, Serena had joined up with Chet to try things his way, literally wearing the sexy dress and undermining herself to win the hearts of her own suitors. But that was a short-lived experiment. She’s back to being her old self, rebelling against the patriarchy and so on, which just makes it all the more confusing as to why she’s even still there — specifically, up there in a Rapunzel-inspired tower while the men “battle it out below” her. (They’re dressed as knights.)
“It’s dumb for even us,” Rachel says of the entire thing. But Quinn argues that Gary loves it and tampon brands are lined up to buy ads. Quinn seems squarely in the “quantity over quality” camp, to no one’s surprise. She’s here to make good TV. Rachel, other the other hand, wavers back and forth between her loyalty to Quinn and her own morals, whatever those may be at this point. She takes her frustration out on Chet, manipulating his desire for an Emmy into a plan to tape footage of the suitors getting asked “difficult questions” and the like. This turns into Rachel and Chet finding out that Owen’s wife left him (and their child) for his best friend, right after he arrived home from a tour in Iraq. That’s how they get him to stay on camera that he’s not a feminist: “In my experience, it can be an excuse for some really selfish behavior.” Uh-oh.
The only character with more confusing motives than Rachel is her ex-boyfriend, Jeremy the sad cameraman. He’s still on set for some reason, sharing a workplace with the woman who pretty much ruins his life time and time again. I feel this guy could get another cameraman gig if he wanted to, instead of chasing Rachel on set and yelling that she’s a “selfish bitch” and ruining a take of one of the interviews. Dude, why are you here? I can’t be the only one asking this question.
Meanwhile, Jay pitches Quinn a TV show about bounce music in New Orleans, which eventually morphs into a pitch for a nationwide look at underground dance. She hates it at first, and then Jay mentions it offhand to Alexi, who proceeds to hit on him. Unmistakably! But he’s not the only suitor with a secret: While they’re all in a hot tub, British bro Jasper reveals that he’s got a $400,000 bet placed that he’ll be the first to sleep with Serena. The other dudes are ready to snitch, but Jay and Rachel run interference after Quinn decides that she isn’t willing to lose him as a contestant once Serena finds out and cuts him. It makes sense to keep this info under wraps for now, to let this guy get as far as possible in the game and then have it be revealed by a competitor. (That’s what The Bachelor would do, I can tell you that.) Quinn seems to have other reasons too, but there’s no way this will remain a secret forever.
Rachel confronts Quinn about her boozing, which is pretty rich considering Rachel’s entire history on the show. Sure, she’s good at her job, but she also kind of had a guy killed on Quinn’s watch. And even though Rachel knows that Quinn is overdoing it on the booze, and likely messing things up for the show, she’ll still stop at nothing to do what she thinks of as protecting her. Like, for example, firing the bartender and accusing him of stealing Quinn’s alcohol (that she actually drank) after Madison tells Rachel that she’s worried about Quinn. What’s that about essential honesty again?
Speaking of the Incident, Rachel breaks and tells Dr. Simon exactly what happened. “The truth is,” she says, “It was really kind of thrilling to have that power.” She means the power to coerce Jeremy into killing that guy for her.
Seems like Dr. Simon has no idea what he’s gotten himself into.
P.S. Who cut August’s man bun and why? Out of all the things to use as a dramatic cliffhanger … this? Really? There better be a reason as to why we cut from an admission of murder to Quinn pissing and someone snipping those gorgeous locks. See you next week!