If Season 1 of UnReal left you wondering how Lifetime could ever top the freshman year of its hit Bachelor-like drama, have no fear: Season 2 has gone there, in all the best ways. In hot pursuit to top the explosive "suicide ratings" the fictional dating show Everlasting attained last season, Quinn (Constance Zimmer), Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and the entire crew returned to shock America once again with more romance, more drama, and more jaw-dropping moments than ever before.
Since the entire concept of UnReal is all about blurring the lines between fiction and reality, it's no surprise that both the actual show and the fictional show within it tap-dance on that line (and, at times, straight up leap right over it) by bringing us relevant and sometimes tough-to-swallow storylines. Sometimes, the subject matter looks almost too familiar; the product of the behind-the-scenes manipulation looking so much like scenarios we've seen before that there were several instances where we had to stop and remind ourselves that what we were watching is fiction.
If you've long suspected that certain scenarios on shows like The Bachelor are the basis for UnReal's Everlasting, then this season probably catapulted you right into conspiracy-theorist territory. What's more, it probably left you more curious than ever about the juicy behind-the-scenes dealings on the production of said shows. Ahead of the season finale, airing tonight on Lifetime at 10 p.m. ET, read on for the five times UnReal got almost too real.
1. When They Cast a Black Suitor
This has never actually happened in 20 seasons of The Bachelor, but Everlasting's decision to bring in a black suitor, Darius Beck, says so much about the message UnReal is trying to send. It would have defeated the purpose entirely if they'd brought this guy in, and then failed to address how differently they needed to frame him to gain America's acceptance. Will life imitate art any time soon? We aren't sure, but we'll definitely be tuning in to find out!
"I understand. You're the first black quarterback on your team. You're also the first black suitor. There's a lot of eyes on you, I get it." —Rachel, Episode 1
2. When The Crew Drama Started Spilling Over Into the Show
One of the funniest (and most troubling) things about the production of Everlasting is how the drama behind the scenes tends to turn into ratings gold in front of the camera. Feuds between producers and the incentive of cash bonuses for getting their assigned contestants to the final rounds of the show drive the crew to lie, cheat, steal (and kill!) to get their way. While there's no way of knowing if these kinds of shenanigans actually happen on the sets of real-life dating shows, it sure does make you wonder! (And it sure would explain how Evan made it past the first round on the latest season of The Bachelorette—just sayin.)
"Suck it up Goldberg—if we fired everyone we had sex with, we wouldn't have a crew." —Quinn, Episode 1
3. When the Character Editing Got So Real
You know that ominous feeling you get when a certain contestant on The Bachelor goes from flying under the radar to suddenly getting a little too much air time? Yeah, well it's usually because that kind of shift means that person is on their way out! The same is completely true this season on UnReal, too. Just when the producers started pushing London to drink more to try and stand out, she ended up puking right on her suitor's shoes and was sent packing the same night. Ouch.
"Oh, we don't make it up, we make it happen." —Quinn, Episode 5
4. The Physical Challenges
The physical challenges on dating shows have always been super-entertaining, but also a little baffling. It's a given that the competitive nature of the setting is going to kick any challenge into overdrive and leave someone injured. This season on Everlasting, we watched the girls form a massive dog-pile while playing football; get dropped into dunk tanks for answering questions incorrectly; and even race to complete a military-style obstacle course, all to win alone time with their love interest. That moment when Brandi pulled Chantal off the wall during the obstacle course, sending her plummeting to the ground, reminded us so much of the bloodied post-football-challenge James Taylor on the latest season of The Bachelorette. Injured, in the name of love.
"We're all too smart for this." —Ruby, Episode 3
5. The "L" Word
We know the whole point of dating shows is to find love, but it still weirds us out when someone says "I love you" too soon. We've seen this happen time and time again (Bachelorette's Robby, we're looking at you), and we saw it happen this season on UnReal. When the once-reluctant Ruby had to have that cringe-worthy conversation with her dad to explain why she dropped out of college to be on the show (you know, the one where he bursts in while his daughter is having sex with Darius), it's so awkward to watch her tell him how she's fallen in love... in a month. On a reality show. Eek.
"Oh my god. Love, after four weeks on a reality show? What the hell's gotten into you?" —Ruby's father, Episode 5