UnREAL is a series that defies simple explanation and refuses to fit neatly into any defined TV category.
The Lifetime drama, which returns for a second season June 6 at 10 PM, is a skewering satire of the let’s-find-love-on-reality-TV genre. It’s also a stunning takedown of gender politics and the notion that television female protagonists have to be nice, and likable while functioning on highly entertaining and compulsively watchable soap operas.
The good news is, if you didn’t accept the show’s rose early on, and neglected to watch the first season, it will be easy to catch on. Season Two features a brand new season of Everlasting, the fictional show-within-a-show. This means a whole new gang to take the series by storm.
Here are the six characters you need to know to start watching Season Two:
As the sardonic executive producer of Everlasting, this is the role of Zimmer’s long and fruitful career. Quinn will do anything (ANYTHING) to ensure she has a hit show. She pays her staff bonus for nudity and 911 calls. Last season, at what was perhaps her lowest moment, she brought one of the contestant’s physically abusive ex-husband on the show to win a $50 bet. That contestant later committed suicide which would have been terribly sad… if it wasn’t ratings gold.
Rachel is Quinn’s protégé and a producer on Everlasting. She is, to put it delicately, a hot mess. She suffered a nervous breakdown before UnREAL began, but that didn’t stop her from returning to the toxic environment. Rachel is addicted to the rush that comes from manipulating contestants to make a good show. Last season, she fell in love with and was set to run off with Adam (Freddie Stroma), the British bachelor at the center of Everlasting, before Quinn ruined her happily-ever-after plans. Rachel retaliates by producing “the greatest finale in Everlasting history” which ruins Adam’s hopes of an Everlasting spin-off. Quinn and Rachel have backstabbed each other countless times and have one of the most dysfunctional, co-dependent relationships on primetime TV. And yet, we still root for them, no matter how badly they behave. As Season One ended, Quinn had struck a deal to produce her own show and make Rachel her executive producer.
Chet is the creator of Everlasting and Quinn’s boss—or at least he was until Quinn struck a new deal with the network. Chet, who is married with a pregnant wife, has had a long-standing affair with Quinn. He is a disgusting.womanizing pig, but Quinn keeps going back to him no matter how wrong he is for her. At the end of Season One, Chet and Quinn appear to be done for good, but who knows how long that will last.
Everlasting’s director of photography and Rachel’s ex-boyfriend, Jeremy and Rachel started seeing each other again… until he found out she was also sleeping with Adam, and he humiliated her in front of the show’s entire cast and crew. He was last seen going to Rachel’s mother telling her he thinks her daughter is in trouble. Jeremy currently hates Rachel, but always remember the opposite of love isn’t hate—it’s apathy. And Jeremy definitely isn’t apathetic about Rachel.
A meek assistant who Quinn barks orders at, we think Madison is just a scared, sweet, innocent girl in over her head. But when Quinn catches Madison giving Chet a blow job, Madison blackmails Chet into making her a producer on the show. Not so innocent after all.
A producer on the show and Rachel’s one real friend, Jay is often the producer assigned to the African-American contestants, advising them to go full NeNe Leakes or Omarosa to stay in the game. But like most of the characters on the show, Jay mostly looks out for Jay and his allegiances are constantly in flux.
Now that you’re caught up it’s officially time to start watching the best show of the summer!
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal ®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.