Sarah Gertrude Shapiro's short Sequin Raze debuted at the 2013 SXSW, and I reviewed it here. It's a brutal look at the distasteful - and gripping - world of reality television production, and Shapiro should know, as a producer over four seasons of The Bachelor.
Tonight, Lifetime debuts a new series called UnReal, based on Shapiro's Sequin Raze and created by the filmmaker along with Buffy and Angel's Marti Noxon. It looks every ounce as merciless and provocative as the short that inspired it.
Set against the backdrop of the hit dating competition show "Everlasting," "UnREAL" is led by flawed heroine Rachel Goldberg, a young producer whose sole job is to manipulate her relationships with, and among, the contestants to get the vital dramatic and outrageous footage that the program’s dispassionate executive producer, Quinn King, demands. What ensues is an eye-opening look at what happens in the outrageous world of unscripted television, where being a contestant can be vicious and being a producer a whole other reality.
Lifetime premiered a sneak peek of UnReal at this year's SXSW, and I heard nothing but great things about the presentation. I'm a fan of stars Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer, Marti Noxon just makes great television, and I've been following Shapiro since Sequin Raze, confident that her next project would be worth watching. The short's not available online, but you can see the trailer for it here - the entire short amounts to a showdown between a producer (Ashley Williams, playing Appleby's character) and the bachelor's runner-up (Anna Camp), who's drawn the unlucky "crazy girl" short straw in the immutable stratum of reality show stereotypes.
UnReal premieres tonight on Lifetime at 10/9c. I will definitely be checking it out.