Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 79

Conclusion This article’s charitable interpretation of Season 2 of UnREAL  hinges on its meta-quality, the fictionalized depiction of the making of a fictional reality show. Bastién’s criticism of Season 2 is that it ultimately fails to illustrate the interior lives of the contestants and the suitor, which she interprets to be the success of Season 1. It took the archetypes of the slut and the wifey and showed there was more to them. The success of Season 2 is not that it does a noteworthy job of illustrating the interior lives of black characters or depicts successful feminist characters undermining patriarchy. Rather UnREAL’s characters depict the dominance theory pervasive in the entertainment industry, the exploitation of black bodies and the devaluing of black lives therein, and the laughable male essentialism of Chet’s outdated and toxic masculinity. These representations are feminist and anti- essentialist decisions by the makers of UnREAL. Bastién’s analysis conflates UnREAL and Everlasting. She seemed to be hope for the happy ending that only the Bachelor pretends to offer, and which Everlasting actually did offer. Season 2’s success is its depiction of the institutional logic of the entertainment industry and reality TV that hem in every character’s decision making. But the most important relationship on the show, its central drama, is between Rachel and Quinn. Bastién actually hopes Rachel will be saved. But both Quinn and Rachel show they do not want money, love, and power. As women, they demonstrate that they can embody male roles for better or worse, while using their gendered and situated experiences to do so, to get what their tattoos actually say they are after. UnREAL, in Season 2, provokes the audience to reflect on the construction of gender roles, the norms of patriarchy, and the exploitation of black bodies, in a way unique to its meta-qualities. The conclusion that can be drawn from the present analysis is that Lifetime’ UnREAL represents a successful iteration of its Broad Focus initiative. This is not only because a Shapiro, a feminist formerly working on the set of a feminist-unfriendly program, The Bachelor, has co-produced her own program. UnREAL counts as a success in this way only if it can be read as advancing a feminist agenda. Everlasting is not a feminist program, and this article reads UnREAL as a program that highlights Everlasting’s portrayal of the ills of patriarchy and racism by virtue of its trafficking in the legacy of essentialist notions of gender and race and its conscious construction of gender and race for profit. Watching the production of Everlasting from behind the camera gives the audience insight into the institutional logic of patriarchy and racism in an original and insightful way. 79