TV Review: UnREAL returns as an incredible character study trapped in a decent show

In the pilot of Lifetime’s acidic drama UnREAL, Rachel (Shiri Appleby), a cunning producer on a Bachelor-like reality dating competition, struts around set in a T-shirt that reads “This is what a feminist looks like.” The shirt makes for a bold joke when worn by a woman who spends her all-consuming work days goading other women into becoming their worst selves on national television. It’s also the perfect symbol for UnREAL‘s deeper themes, which have more to do with the politics of identity than the subterfuge underlying the most successful reality franchises. Does Rachel have the right to call herself a feminist? Certainly, if feminism means beating boorish, sharp-elbowed men at their own game.

Season two finds Rachel more debauched than ever, and still under the thumb of her surrogate mother Quinn (a chilling Constance Zimmer), who has just secured a lucrative overall production deal and …

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