UnREAL Season 2 Premiere Recap: Let The (Manipulation) Games Begin…Again

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UnREAL is back and Rachel and company are ready to destroy lives for the sake of reality television once again!

The second season premiere saw the ramp up to the beginning of production on a new season of Everlasting with a new showrunner and new roles for a few familiar faces. Rachel’s in charge of running the show this season and from the moment the episode opens, she and Quinn go into sales mode and offer up liquor and cocaine to a network executive who can be convinced that their new suitor, Darius, is a good move. We see her take after her mentor, Quinn, but just as quickly as she takes over, Quinn takes the reins back as they find themselves dealing with Chet’s unexpected return and his determination to get his show back one way or another.

Darius, Everlasting’s newest suitor, is a football player with a bit of a PR problem who doesn’t exactly seem to understand what he signed up for at the beginning of the whole process (in classic suitor fashion). He also happens to be the show’s first black suitor, which was apparently a sticking point for the network. His entourage also seems to be less than thrilled about what their friend has gotten himself into, which leaves them all open for Chet’s plan to begin his attempt at taking back the show and destroying Rachel and Quinn. Now that we’ve seen how the first season played out, it’s going to be entertaining to see whether Darius, his entourage, and the contestants figure out that they are just moving parts in a game pitting Quinn and Rachel against Chet.

With Rachel’s promotion comes Madison’s move up the ranks. While it seems like nothing’s changed with her, it takes a really harsh question and answer portion of filming one of the contestants to see that she may cut it and may potentially take after Rachel, much to Jeremy’s dismay.

Elsewhere on UnREAL, Jeremy’s “concern” for what he’s seen from Rachel leads him to call her mother. Of course, that move doesn’t ingratiate him in Rachel’s eyes and kicks off what will probably be a higher level of tension between the pair and really awkward moments in front of the crew, like that “hot Rachel” look-a-like contestant discussion.

The characters still bounce between being absolutely conflicted about what they’re subjecting themselves and contestants to and embracing the crazy wrongness of it all, cracking jokes in production HQ. This was one of those moments that stood out throughout the premiere as we really see what the show has done to them, despite their reservations and how questionable they think some (all) of Rachel’s Everlasting decisions are. It felt weird to see but with a cast of characters like this with their own hang ups and dysfunctions we saw on parade last season, it makes the most sense, no matter how frustrating and wrong their behavior may be perceived. It adds to the delightfully messy aspect of these characters.

Jay and Madison especially fell into this surprising tide shift from questioning Rachel’s decisions to embracing the craziness, as Jay fought to keep Ruby, a black college-aged woman, out of the show because she only had one semester left before graduating. All the while, Rachel put Madison on the spot and gave us a moment that really showed the kind of mentality they have when it comes to producing this show and how they deal with the terribly manipulative aspects. As she interviews one of the contestants, she gets coached by Rachel through her ear-piece to get the most reactive material from the woman so they could get their promo done. Of course, that involves asking her questions like did she cause her fiancé’s death after a car accident killed him.

With production underway for the new season comes a new crop of contestants comes our first glimpse at the kind of women they’ve selected to vie for Darius’ (rather reluctant) heart and the caricatures they are set to become under Rachel and Quinn’s careful strategizing and plotting.

Rachel and Quinn have reached a new level in their manipulative games and we’re only one episode in! It will be interesting to see how far they will go and if an UnREAL implosion is imminent this season for either of them.

Don’t miss the next new episode of UnREAL on June 13 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.

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