Written by Matt Taylor
UnREAL is a show about women, created by women, and aired on a network made specifically for women. But, this week, UnREAL focused on a man: more specifically, this season’s suitor, Darius, who was previously in the background as the women competing for his attention spent time in the spotlight. And, by the end of “Treason,” he emerged as one of the season’s most interesting characters, with the stakes of the season raised to a dangerously high level.
Last year, Adam, the suitor, was figured prominently from the beginning, which is why it was interesting that Darius seemed so insignificant for so long. This week, we learned that not everything is as it appears: Darius is severely injured, and if this information is revealed to the press (or even the producers), his football career will be finished. And, this being UnREAL, he quickly becomes a pawn in the game being played between the producers. Rachel wants to ensure he stays on set, no matter what it takes, in order to keep her job and gain her promotion, while Quinn wants to destroy him in order to prove to the network that “Everlasting” can only run with her at the helm. After this development, truly all bets are off on UnREAL, and it’s every (wo)man for themselves.
This subplot also helps Darius to become an interesting, sympathetic character on a show where likable figures are hard to come by. While B.J. Britt isn’t quite as charismatic as Freddie Stroma (who played Adam), he is completely believable in his role and manages to play off all his costars well. His conversations with Shiri Appleby are exciting and can turn any exchange into a suspenseful one, while he also has terrific chemistry with Denée Benton and Kim Matula.
This week also found the number of contestants on “Everlasting” dwindled down to only the necessary few, and many of the remaining ladies have captivating personalities and interesting agendas. While Ruby (Benton) remains the best, this week found “Hot Rachel” emerging as someone to watch. Winning the contest clearly isn’t Yael’s main objective, and while I haven’t quite figured out what her end game is, I’m excited to find out. Furthermore, Monica Barbaro makes a great villain, and I look forward to watching her go toe-to-toe with Rachel over the next few weeks.
Unfortunately, there were some minor issues with this episode that must be addressed. Once again, this week’s episode made “Everlasting” feel unrealistic, barring virtually no resemblance to any dating show currently airing on television. One of the best things about the first season of UnREAL was how believable it was; hopefully season two starts to follow suit. Additionally, the episode made one particularly dramatic revelation involving Chet somewhat muddled, with uncharacteristically poor direction making the characters’ reactions unclear.
In its fourth week, UnREAL continues to be both richly dramatic and intelligent. Its character development is particularly strong, and both the personal and professional conflicts between the characters are being mined for captivating drama. Next week will be the halfway point of the season and, hopefully, we’re in for another great episode.