As UnREAL wraps up for its second season, let’s all think back: When did this season go so very wrong? Looking back, it seems like a series of missteps and zig-zags from week to week, with no overarching plan. The first time I remember being absolutely horrified was Brandi’s breakdown, and things just went more awry from there, peaking, of course, with the horror of Romeo’s shooting, and bottoming out last week with Rachel’s prank on Yael. Our protagonists just did one horrific act after another, which could have been entertaining if they weren’t so stomach-churning.
But for the most part, the motivations were just so hard to trace. Why did Quinn even talk to a fertility doctor? Why would Jeremy get violent with Rachel, and then try to win her back this episode? And who in the hell was Coleman anyway, just an opportunistic TV exec wannabe?
With so few actual stakes to care about, the fate of our characters, or who “won” or who’s burning what to the ground—there are five million schlocky reality series, does anyone really think the end of Everlasting would make a difference?—none of these elements matter much. Last season when our characters were more like people, less like cartoon villains, it was easier to get invested. This year, at the end, Darius, Romeo, and Ruby stand tall as the only people within five miles of Everlasting worth a damn.
Which brings us to far and away, the best part of this finale: Darius choosing Ruby. Jay and Rachel’s machinations to make this happen was their most amazing move all season, showing Quinn, and everyone, that true love actually exists. It was so well-done that even the families of the jilted girls had to applaud, and Quinn was knocked out into some state of shock. Apparently after Chet, and John, she convinced herself that she couldn’t find love because it doesn’t exist, only to be proven wrong by her own show. Again, Constance Zimmer rises above her material, as her blank stare speaks volumes about how much her character wants, and how much her character’s lost. In a season where pretty much everyone has been beaten down, we needed a happy ending, and this was a very good one.
Not quite good enough, though, it seems. It was obvious to me about halfway through the episode that Yael and/or Coleman were not going to make it out of the season alive. How could they? Any non-disclosure agreement would probably be cast by the wayside once the volume of UnREAL’s criminal acts were exposed. Jeremy as either destroyer or savior doesn’t make much difference, as he’s apparently dumb as a box of rocks and goes off, like some kind of scruffy Igor, to do his master’s unspoken bidding. It’s simultaneously predictable and completely bizarre, which is what you could say about all of season two.
In fact, the whole season seems like a series of red herrings: Remember the fight for control of the show? Chet vs. Quinn? The network guy? The aftermath of Jeremy’s attack on Rachel? If the show was so afraid of what Yael and Coleman would do, why weren’t they afraid that Brandi would do the same thing? Why is Romeo walking around perfectly fine when the last time we saw him, he was down on the ground after getting shot at close range?
Yael gets a bit meta with Rachel: “This is what’s wrong with America. Women constantly hurting other women.” But her statement highlights what was such a delightful draw for this show, at first, the fact that Rachel and Quinn pass the Bechdel test every single episode. Quinn even throws out a nod to Rachel a throwback to the start of the season; by admitting that in the end, she was the better showrunner, pulling off an actual, real-love ending. It was a glimmer of the Rachel we fell for in season one, the one who helped Faith come out and tried desperately to get Mary to come down off of that roof. It’s why we agree with Quinn that all the fucked-up things that made Rachel what she is today don’t matter, because she’s perfect. Maybe a little too heavy-handed with the pranks, but perfect nonetheless.
It makes us long for a deliciously twisty ending like last season’s when Quinn and Rachel profess their love with a note of menace underneath. This season ends with Quinn and Rachel on those same lounge chairs, now united forever to Jeremy and Chet by this latest deception. Their shock is just like their previous one: While these two didn’t actually kill anyone, they set up everything possible for this end result. So far, it doesn’t seem like the show will ever hold them accountable for their actions, that they won’t learn from doing terrible thing atop terrible thing. Which makes any desire to watch an already-confirmed third season, we have to say, a bit unreal.
Finale grade: B-
Season grade: C+
- Hey, Madison cleans up nicely!
- “It is unbelievable, isn’t it?”
- Season MVP: Graham, man. Deserves props for always bringing it with the sappy dialogue. Also a fun foil for everyone else to make fun of. Graham for the win!
- That curtain trick was pretty great.
- I honestly shudder to think what would happen in season three. Although the fact that Coleman and Yael died under such suspicious circumstances would mean that someone else would likely come sniffing around.
- At least Everlasting’s finale didn’t end with Rachel storming the set for once.
- Thanks for reading, everyone! Sometimes it was absolutely perplexing what was happening on this show, but it was always fun to talk about it with you.