Sunday, July 17, 2016

MTVP So Cal Summer 2016: UnREAL 1.06: "Fly"

“Come with me.”

I think “Fly” is a really pivotal episode of “UnREAL.” It shows just how far the Everlasting crew are willing to go to create dramatic television, and it shows a very high cost to their approach. The episode focuses on Mary and her family, and the drama created by the show’s creative team has extremely serious consequences. As someone with a family member diagnosed with bipolar disorder who also spent a part of my career in mental health advocacy, I just really, really feel for Mary. Between the manipulations of the Everlasting crew and her terrible ex-husband, she didn’t really stand a chance. Mary’s fate is more extreme than anything that has happened while one of the shows in the Bachelor franchise has been filming (that I can recall, at least), but I don’t see it as something being out of the realm of possibility of happening. There is a lot of pressure on reality competition shows to make good television, and I could see a young, ambitious producer like Shia getting desperate and doing something that could have dire consequences.

This episode is Mary’s “family date.” Her daughter and sister and going to visit and spend some quality time with her and Adam, and then she and Adam are going to go to a romantic dinner. At first, everything seems okay. The only hint of trouble is that Mary’s talking head interviews are more high strung than usual, bordering on euphoric. It’s pretty clear, since she has bipolar disorder, that she’s heading into a manic episode. She has been both (inadvertently) off some of her meds and (purposely) drinking, so it’s not really all that shocking. Mary is understandably overjoyed to see her daughter, Lilly Belle. Seeing her sister is pretty great, too, but the mother/daughter reunion is the best. Both mother and daughter are ecstatic about seeing each other. Adam, for his part, isn’t thrilled about the whole family date thing, but he’ll play his part for the good of the show.

Chet, as per usual, is being an ass. He says no guy would want Mary (forgetting the detail that she’s only a year older than Quinn) when he could have a hot bikini model like Grace. He and Quinn decide to turn this into a side bet. Fifty dollars is at stake, and the winner depends on whether or not Mary makes it through the week without being eliminated. The problems of this episode really are an unholy combination of Shia screwing with Mary’s meds and the manipulations Chet and Quinn engage in due to their bet. It’s really a perfect storm for tragedy. Adam, Mary, and Lilly Belle are working on kneading something, I think either homemade play doh or pizza dough, when Chet sends Anna in with an adorable bunny. The bunny, of course, steals away Lilly Belle’s attention, and Mary (especially off her meds Mary) is furious. She accuses Anna of sabotaging her date, and they almost get in a knock-down-drag-out fight right there.

Quinn needs to engage in some manipulation of her own in order to win the bet. She and Rachel talk it out, and they decide that bringing in Mary’s abusive ex-husband is the perfect idea. At best, it could give Mary some real closure (Rachel’s take on it, of course, since she always wants Everlasting to be something more than it really is), and even if it doesn’t do that, it could create an opportunity for an Adam knight in shining armor moment. Quinn isn’t taking the lead on executing the plan, though, because she and Chet are going to go pitch the next season of Everlasting to the network. Quinn goes on and on about the Q-score and other stats of the potential next suitor, and Chet closes the deal by making some boob jokes. While it’s kind of gross, the two make a good team since they have worked together for so long. They are feeling a bit high from the win, and they almost have sex, but Chet’s wife provides quite the mood killer by calling Chet to tell him they’re having a boy.

Kirk, Mary’s ex, arrives on set, and while Lilly Belle is thrilled to see her father, neither Kirk nor Mary are happy that this was arranged without Mary’s request. The conversation quickly turns ugly, and Adam, of course, tries to intervene, taking a few punches for Mary. Two security officers try to drag Kirk away, but he’s still fighting, and now he’s blaming Rachel for being manipulative. Seeing Rachel in trouble, Jeremy immediately jumps in and knocks Kirk out. Lizzie watches this from the sidelines, and she’s not too thrilled, because she thinks Jeremy is still obsessed with Rachel (and she’s probably right). They also had an incident earlier that day where Lizzie thought Jeremy was being way too rough during sex. All this combined leads Lizzy to suggest postponing their wedding.

Meanwhile, Mary has become manic to the point where her talking heads are almost nonsensical. Then she makes the brilliant decision to go and try to confront Kirk while he’s being retrained in a dressing room waiting for the cops. Mary goes on about how Adam loves her and they’re going to be a family. Kirk, not pulling any punches, goes right for the jugular. He says Mary has a darkness in her, and she’s going to infect Lilly Belle with that Darkness. He thinks Lilly Belle would be better off growing up without a mother than growing up with Mary. We next see Mary saying goodbye to her family, and she’s being extra sentimental, especially in talking to Lilly Belle, reminding her how much she loves her.

As you might expect, when it’s time for Mary and Adam to leave on their dinner date, Mary can’t be found. And Madison has some bad news for Quinn and Rachel. She knows where Mary is – Mary is on the roof. Rachel rushes up to the roof, and she does her very best to try and talk Mary down. Mary, however, has been off her mood stabilizers and on alcohol for at least several days (maybe a week?) now, so there’s no talking her down. She tries to grab on to Rachel (thinking Rachel would want to “join her”) before jumping off the roof and landing in a bloody mess on the ground. Quinn rushes to the scene as she yells at Chet to call for an ambulance, and Rachel looks forlornly down on the scene from above.

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