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'UnREAL' fan recap: On this season's low point

Season 2 | Episode 9 | “Espionage” | Aired Aug 1, 2016

Season 1 of UnREAL was amazing. It was gripping and smart and set a whole new tone for the Lifetime network. Season 2 has been, well … less amazing, less gripping, and sadly, less smart. But I can forgive that. The expectations were through the roof, and I haven’t held the show’s sophomore slump moments against it. This week’s episode, however, was a little much for me to handle.

It wasn’t the “let’s burn down the Everlasting house” plot that put me off. It wasn’t Coleman’s cheating (with Hot Rachel) or even Quinn and John’s devastating breakup after she learns that she’s no longer able to have children (that one hurt, but in a way that felt organic to the show and important, and I can’t hold that kind of pain against a series). No, the plot point that made me cringe for UnREAL and all those involved was the poop plot. I feel weird even typing that in a recap, but that’s where we are.

Rachel, after hearing a rumor about Coleman and Yael (which wasn’t true yet, but certainly became true by the end of the episode), decided to sabotage Yael in the most humiliating way she could cook up — and since this is Rachel we’re talking about, that means something very humiliating. First, Rachel convinces Yael to change into a sexy white dress for her one-on-one date with Darius. Then, she has Yael’s favorite meal brought in and gives her an inside tip: Darius is tired of Tiffany and her fussy eating habits and just wants to spend an evening with a girl who isn’t afraid to eat. Yael takes the bait and stuffs her face (in a sultry kind of way, because this is still Yael), and it actually works at first. Darius is into the fact that she’s not afraid to eat in front of him. Then, after the meal, it’s time to slow dance romantically and Yael feels not well — not well at all. She tries to excuse herself to the bathroom, but Rachel insists they’re losing light and have to film right now. Yael tries to run away, but Rachel has locked the door into the mansion. Eventually nature (and whatever laxatives Rachel laced Yael’s food with) wins out and … well, I’m sure you get the idea.

Quinn is thrilled by the “drama” of the situation, but it feels … kind of desperate. Sure, we could give UnREAL the benefit of the doubt and say that’s intentional, that it’s supposed to feel desperate because Rachel is desperate, but if that was the intention, I’m not sure it shines through. It feels like UnREAL is desperate for drama and shocking moments, not like Everlasting is. So I’m calling it as the low-point of the season. But just because I don’t want to turn a blind eye to this moment doesn’t mean I don’t still have faith in the show as a whole. Overall, this season hasn’t been as strong as the first. Season 1 was consistently great, and season 2 has been shakier, with some definite dips when the twists and turns are taken a little too sharply. But a lesser season of UnREAL is still one of the better things on television right now, and I’m excited and optimistic for the finale.

The finale will have a lot to wrap up. Yael might be out of the running on Everlasting (because yes, Rachel’s sabotage got her kicked off the show), but her role in UnREAL just keeps getting more interesting. In last week’s “Fugitive,” it was revealed that Yael is actually a reporter going undercover on the show to expose its dark, dark past (specifically pegged to Mary’s suicide/murder last season). Now, she’s teamed up with Coleman who feels jilted by the network after being dethroned as showrunner and is ready to help her tear Everlasting down to save his own career — and he’s using Rachel to make that happen.

Last week, he interviewed her about Everlasting’s dark past while she was still loopy on medication, and he refuses to delete the footage — even though a sober and lucid Rachel told him she wasn’t interested in exposing the show’s secrets. Then, after it was clear Rachel wasn’t going to help him gather the evidence he needed, he hacked her phone and used it to bug a private conversation between her and Quinn, during which Quinn admitted to covering up lots of Everlasting‘s dirty secrets with an effective mix of high-powered connections and bribe money.

When Coleman admits this to Rachel, and tells her his plan to take down the show and then check her into a recovery program to get her the mental health help she needs, she switches on the waterworks and plays him good. She thanks him, says she’s touched that he cares so much about her, and agrees that exposing Everlasting is the right thing to do — before going to tell Quinn about the whole situation so she has a chance to sabotage the saboteurs.

Speaking of Quinn, she shines this week. She’s protective of Rachel and shows that she really cares about her, in her own twisted, law-breaking way. She breaks down upon hearing the news that she can’t have children and breaks things off with John because she knows how important having biological children is to him, and she refuses to be anyone’s disappointment. She takes her one chance at non-Everlasting, actually healthy happiness and smashes it because she genuinely cares about what John wants and can’t handle the idea of him settling for her if she can’t be what he wants. That’s about as soft and sweet as Quinn gets.

UnREAL airs Mondays at 10/9C on Lifetime.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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