Thursday, June 16, 2016

MTVP So Cal Summer 2016: Unreal 1.02: "Relapse"

“You know what, that doesn’t even intimidate me. You know why? Because there’s cameras everywhere. I’ve seen enough suitor dong to last me I would say my entire life, so…that shower looks so good.”

In the second episode of “UnREAL,” we start to delve even further into the three main ingredients of the show: the ridiculous manipulation that happens on reality dating competition (or any reality show, really), Rachel’s personal life drama, and Quinn and Chet drama. We get to know a few more of the contestants in this episode, particularly Anna, who is a lawyer that Quinn and Rachel hope could be a potential villain for the season since Britney was voted off so quickly. We see Rachel have to handle a very difficult situation with Anna and kind of hate herself for how she deals with it, all while also dealing with drama from her now ex-roommate. I liked that this episode started to give us a better look at what makes some of these characters tick. We get a sense of just how dysfunctional Rachel’s life is, and we also get the sense that Adam tries to be a decent person underneath the smarminess. Most of the time, at least.

We learn right at the beginning of the episode that Rachel has been sleeping in one of the Everlasting production trucks. She wakes up, turns her t-shirt and underwear inside out, uses some Purell, and starts her day. This leads to a really weird encounter when she goes to nudge Adam to get to set, and after he asks her to fetch some things as if she’s a PA not a producer, he proceeds to strip naked and get in the shower while she’s still in the room. Rachel isn’t really phased by this, because by this point in her career, she’s pretty much seen it all. She is, however, since she’s kind of homeless and all, really tempted by the idea of a nice shower. She makes Adam close his eyes as she joins him in the shower. There’s nothing sexual about it – Rachel is just really glad to not feel gross anymore. I understood what the creative team was going for with this scene, but it was still kind of odd.

Rachel’s housing situation becomes even more complicated in this episode. Her (now former) roommate Bethany shows up on set, drops all of Rachel’s stuff on the ground. She’s holding Rachel’s laptop hostage, and if Rachel doesn’t pay all the back rent she owes in twenty-four hours, Bethany is going to release some of that very personal information on the laptop. As the episode progresses, the threat gets more specific. If Rachel misses the deadline, Bethany is going to send a sex tape of Rachel and Jeremy to everyone on the Everlasting crew e-mail list. Rachel doesn’t really have much hope of being able to pay Bethany that much money right away, unless maybe she win’s Quinn’s competition to find a new villain (more on that in a bit). She starts to try to tell Jeremy what’s going on so that he won’t be completely blindsided, but she can’t quite manage it. Rachel keeps trying to explain to Bethany that work is kind of crazy right now (more on that in a bit, too), but Bethany doesn’t care, saying that this is all about showing respect.

As I’ve already mentioned, since Britney was voted off prematurely in the previous episode, Quinn desperately needs a new villain in order for the season to be a success. Quinn decides to hold a little competition to see who can find a passable, or even good, alternate villain. The winner gets a substantial cash prize. Shia goes after Kindergarten teacher Pepper, Rachel goes after ice queen lawyer Anna, and Jay tries to find himself the stereotypical loud black woman. He approaches the two black contestants and presents them with his plan, reminding them that women like Omarosa and Nene are the among the few black women to have really been noticed on reality television. One of the ladies isn’t buying it. She went to Spellman, and she’s not going to make a complete fool of herself for D list fame. I say good for her. The other woman, Athena, however, is willing to do whatever it takes. As she puts it, she wants to be famous enough that when she opens her dream hair salon, there’s a line of people waiting around the corner to get in. I do appreciate that the show is shining a light on the lack of diversity in reality television, particularly in Bachelor Nation. Athena throws herself in the role, deliberately getting into a fight about race with Grace. Poor Grace doesn’t know what hit her and makes the mistake of citing how she has a lot of black friends. Poor Adam has to just clean up the whole mess.

Before we get into the meatiest plot of the episode, let’s briefly acknowledge the craziness going on with Chet and Quinn. I really don’t at all understand what Quinn sees in Chet. He’s a super-gross horndog stoner. And after this episode (and even more after future episodes), I really, really don’t get what she sees in him. Chet’s wife, Cynthia comes to the set. She’s your typical blonde California woman who is just beginning to show her age. She completely blindsides Quinn by telling Quinn that she’s pregnant. Quinn immediately confronts Chet about this. Quinn has been living under this delusion that Chet would eventually leave Cynthia for her, but with a child in the mix, this seems less likely. Chet tries to smooth things over by showing her blueprints for the fancy house (complete with his and her bedrooms) that he wants to build for Quinn. Quinn’s not ready to be bought, though. Yet, at least.

While the events of filming the second episode of Everlasting are unfolding, and Rachel is trying to get Anna to be a bitch, the production team gets word that Anna’s father, who has chronic health problems, is in the ICU. Quinn doesn’t want anyone to tell Anna yet, though, because they need Anna to stay on the show at least a little while longer. Eventually, though, being that horrible of a person gets to be too much for Rachel, and she lets the news slip. Anna immediately tries to run away from the set to go call home, and Rachel is tasked with following her. Rachel eventually brings her back, and Anna has a meltdown that Quinn probably thinks is television gold.

Rachel and Adam accompany Anna back to the east coast for her father’s funeral. Anna is planning on dropping out of the show, because she is all the immediate family her teenage brother has now. Rachel, however, is tasked with getting Anna back. Adam realizes this, and he tries to help, because he thinks Anna is much more likely to listen to him than Rachel. He finally closes the deal by talking directly to Anna’s brother and telling him that his sister has a real chance of winning the show. Her brother than tells Anna that she has to go back, and he’ll stay with their aunt and uncle for a little while. Adam also succeeds in convincing Anna that he really cares about her. Later, in the Everlasting equivalent of the Bachelor rose ceremony, Adam does indeed pick Anna, but he picks her last. Anna admonishes him to never do that to her again, and he says the producers made him do it. Oh, and side note, Rachel edits together a package that makes Anna look crazy, feels bad about it and tries to hide it, is forced by Quinn to show it to everyone, and wins the find the villain competition. Oh, and Bethany e-mails the sex tape, because Rachel has been too busy with Everlasting drama to deal with real life drama.

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