What's Worth Watching: Reality Gets Too Real

Matt Roush
James Dittiger/A&E

UnReal

Un-Real, "Relapse" (Monday, June 8, 10/9c, Lifetime)

Even the most outrageous reality show rarely gets as viciously entertaining as Un-Real, the no-holds-barred dramedy that goes behind the scenes of Everlasting, a fictional Bachelor-type dating show, to reveal the callous machinations that result in juicy on-camera conflict. "Leave your conscience at the door on this one," demands icy executive producer Quinn (the ferocious Constance Zimmer) when a family health crisis threatens to pull one of the key contestants out of the show. If, in fact, they deem it necessary to tell her.

How cynical can these people be? Watch a black male producer advise the few African-American women in the cast, "You've got to go big, loud and highly opinionated" to stay in the game. "Nice work, Uncle Tom," one of them snaps when the faux reality of reality TV once again lives down to expectations. For long-suffering producer Rachel (the empathetic Shiri Appleby), who's such a train wreck she's been sleeping in a production truck, there's an urgent financial incentive to working her dark, manipulative magic on the set, no matter who suffers. As Rachel sells her soul for the sake of "good TV," Un-Real reveals itself to be one of the summer season's most compelling, original new series. This is really good TV.

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