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In many respects, the first few episodes of season two feel like a reprise of the first.
There's cynical backstage banter, ruthlessness by Quinn and frequent clashes with her protégé, Rachel (Shari Appleby), who still exhibits pangs of conscience regarding just how far she'll go to succeed.
At times, "Un REAL" feels like it's trying a little too hard.
From Rachel's personal and emotional struggles to cocaine-fueled parties, the producers serve up a cocktail of amorality and excess, with almost nobody unstained by the brew.
And its subject matter — a feminist TV producer becomes disturbingly good at making misogynist entertainment — wasn’t in the bellicose, dudely mode of dark cable drama.
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Grousing about a deficiency of bikini action around the pool, he says, "It's too much talking.
It's like a Merchant Ivory movie." Stick with it, and "Un REAL" zeroes in like a laser on the way these shows reduce everyone to stereotypes, and how the participants play along -- through cajoling and pressure, but also a warped desire for their 15 minutes of fame. They coax an African-American student activist to participate (or "blacktivist," as Quinn calls her), dismissing her concern that "Black girls only last a couple weeks on those shows." And naturally, they seek to create friction between her and a Southern contestant, who is prodded to wear a Confederate flag bikini.
Yet if the introductory year represented a shot across the bow at that genre, season two could become a real punch to the gut, softened only by the fact that this Lifetime drama garnered more media buzz than Nielsen ratings.
In season one, Quinn (Constance Zimmer), the acerbic producer of the fictional dating show within the show, "Everlasting," laughed off the fact that minorities seldom last long.
Maybe it didn’t check enough of the usual prestige-television boxes.