UnREAL: Episodes 1 – 3

Was I the only reality producer who got a lady boner (or the other kind) from the ending of episode three of UnREAL?  ::SPOILER ALERT, I GUESS:: Rachel and Quinn sitting side by side watching a cast fight Rachel had masterfully orchestrated, reveling in their craft (and their evil), was a Eureka moment.  It was the first time we had any indication that the work might be … fun? 

Thus far UnREAL has taken the approach that to work in reality television you had better have a (barely) metaphorical gun to your head.  And no, paying the rent is not that gun.  Instead we’ve had to suffer through the following rationalizations for Rachel to just, you know, DO HER JOB:

– She’s on probation and Quinn is (through some convoluted way still not completely clear to me after three viewings) extorting her to perform;

– She needs to pay back rent to a bitchy roommate;

– And, finally, if back rent isn’t sufficient motivation (and apparently it isn’t) if she doesn’t pay the back rent said roommate is set to release a damaging email to the rest of Rachel’s colleagues that will damage a guy she used to date.  So, extortion again.

(As if that weren’t enough we are also provided with a backstory wherein Rachel had a nervous breakdown precisely because of the ghastly things she does.)

All of this obsessive (and excessive) motivation has, in my opinion, simply weighed down an otherwise thoughtful and amusing show.  As a reality producer (who has been tormented by the job on an occasion or three) I’d like to offer the following motivations as to why we do the work we do:

– We need to pay the rent;

– Most of what we do isn’t as evil as the show would have you believe (although some of it really is), much of it is just overgrown children (producers) playing practical jokes (which is actually fun);

– We love the people we work with and consider them to be family (Quinn’s assertion to Rachel that “This is your home” rang especially true);

– And, finally, we need to pay the goddamn rent.

Most people would prefer to believe that they wouldn’t do what Rachel does on a daily basis.  However, whether you work at McDonalds or in real estate, all jobs require moral compromises, those compromises just happen to be largely invisible.  The difference between a reality producer and, say, an executive who works for a company that promotes childhood obesity, is that when you work in reality you are acutely aware of the moral compromises you are making.  You can’t avoid it even if you wanted to: it’s in the footage.  And so you have a character like Jay creating a racial stereotype in complete (and conflicted) awareness of what he’s doing. 

UnREAL has a great opportunity to illustrate that yes, potentially good people can do bad things in full awareness that what they’re doing isn’t right (not unlike the characters in Mad Men or Breaking Bad).  They don’t need to be extorted twice and have a breakdown.  They simply have to do a job most of them kind of love, that pays them fairly well, and largely doesn’t require them to do something in violation of their principles.  Except until it does.  That is the banality of evil.

#UnREALLifetime #RealityTV

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