TV Review: ‘UnREAL’ Continues To Shock and Amaze As Season Winds Down


150307-unrealPreston Barta // Features Editor

It’s been recognized by many critics and audiences out there that UnREAL is a better quality show than the Lifetime name suggests. Of course, many of us had our expectations as to what kind material Lifetime puts out, but UnREAL surprised us when it premiered last month. The writing, the characters, the reality show intrigue, and the acting all make up the juicy ingredients of what makes UnREAL such a tasty and return-worthy show.

As the show moved forward, and we’re heading into the seventh episode tonight, we began to wonder: how are they going to keep this show fresh? Then, last week’s episode (and if you’re not caught up to this point, better stop reading now), proved that even though UnREAL seems to be hitting all the spots you may come to expect, it still manages to uncover something new and constantly shock us.

Shia (Aline Elasmar) interviews Mary (Ashley Scott) in UnREAL. Photo courtesy of Lifetime.

Shia (Aline Elasmar) interviews Mary (Ashley Scott) in UnREAL. Photo courtesy of Lifetime.

Last week, we saw the show steer into a deep and dark direction by killing off one of the contestants on “Everlasting” (in true Marti Noxon, BUFFY and ANGEL style). We lost Mary (Ashley Scott), whose emotions got the best of her when Shia (Aline Elasmar) swapped out her bipolar meds and got her drinking again in order to manipulate her more and ignite a fire under her ass. However, things backfired when Mary’s abusive husband (Ty Olsson) showed up on set to try and get some sense of closure. Thus leading Mary to question her worth and jump off the roof of the mansion. “I don’t know if I’m good or if I’m a monster,” said Mary before falling to her untimely death.

It was a heartbreaking episode that caused us to ponder: how could they possibly fix this messy situation? But, how Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn (Constance Zimmer) handle it tonight may throw you for a loop– just you wait (plus, there is more than just this going on to tickle your fancy).

Showrunners/writers Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro have really raised the stakes as the season winds down (with only three episodes left after tonight). The tension is at an all-time high and the characters are more complex than ever.

UnREAL is the kind of material that awards were made for. It’s dark, intelligent and stylish to a fault. And it is my hope that Zimmer, Appleby, Shaprio and Noxon are all recognized for their supreme work put forth in the acting and writing departments come awards season.

I really don’t know how they’re going to top themselves here in the remaining episodes and next season, but somehow they always find a way.

UnREAL airs tonight on Lifetime at 10pm/9c.

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About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.