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Two Takes: UnREAL “Shield”

Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

Quinn: If you don’t want to know how the sausage gets made, don’t come to the factory.

In her Quinn-finite wisdom, UnREAL‘s Quinn doles out this tidbit and nothing could be more true as we roll in to the second episode of season three.

Quinn & Co ground, mince and stuff Everlasting in to a hot-man, drama-filled casing that goes on the shelves for consumers to scoop up like it’s part of Sunday morning brunch. Episode one may have laid the groundwork, but this week’s returned us to the good, the bad and the ugly (and we mean REALLY ugly) that is UnReal.

Rachel is trying to remain in the essential honesty zone but has unabashedly given up on her manipulation-free mantra (if you actually believe she ever embraced it in the first place). Jeremy, attempting to be the white knight and reclaim the morals he so clearly lost last season, is fighting on behalf of the “good guys.” Chet is professing his knowledge of relationships and doling out advice as a self-proclaimed “man-thropologist.” And Quinn, well, Quinn is still Quinn. Ruthless, shameless and a force to be reckoned with.

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime

Cortney: Tina, I feel like we have to start with the end of this episode first. But, in starting at the end, we also kind of start with the beginning. As Rachel’s meditations first revealed, if you waiver even once, you’re not ready to take the next step. And let’s just say Rachel not only wavered, she full-on teetered, which will undoubtedly bring us an epic Quinn-sexes-up-Rachel’s-man showdown that is sure to occur down the line.

So here’s my question for you — in what universe is going against Quinn ever a good idea?! If you can name one instance where this turned out well, I’ll treat you to an aforementioned Sunday brunch. That being said, I’m still not entirely sure if Quinn hooked up with Hot-Africa to spite Rachel after she called bullish*t on Quinn’s personal life or if, in her twisted Quinn logic, she actually thinks she’s saving Rachel. I’m inclined to think the former, but wouldn’t put it past Quinn to somehow rationalize the latter.

Tina: Oh Quinn. I’m not shocked that she decided to hook up with August aka Mr. Man Bun. Rachel talked about her triggers, well, Quinn’s insecurities were triggered over and over and over again in this episode. And what does she do when she gets triggered? She gets destructive. Yes, she has the knack for spinning everything nasty she does to Rachel into it being a good thing she’s doing for her producer. That’s some serious delusion.

Quinn had to listen to Madison basically call her old and alone and unhappy. Chet’s girlfriend Crystal dropped some knowledge on Chet’s backstory — and it wasn’t just something little. It’s a big piece of the puzzle for why Chet’s the way he is. His dad killed himself when Chet was six. That’s huge and he never told Quinn. On top of that, Chet told Quinn that Crystal is safe for him. Safe enough for him to tell her this secret.

You could see the cracks in the massive wall she’s constructed around her. Yes, going up against Quinn is never a good thing. But somebody has to even though the fallout will always be devastating.

I feel like we’re not done talking about Quinn just yet. How about her drinking issues? She was super drunk on set and it wasn’t a good look.

Cortney: It definitely was not a good look for her, but as soon as Gary showed up, she managed to pull it together, which is something other producers (hint*Rachel*hint) haven’t been able to do in the past. And yes, watching both Madison and Crystal school Quinn was brutal. Especially since Quinn started both conversations high-and-mighty, seeming to be above these girls, both of whom put her in her place in the end.

Granted, I still don’t exactly agree with Crystal’s stance that “Chet finally get the recognition he deserve” and that “he is the visionary that changed the groundwork of network television” but the fact that he told Crystal something he’d never told Quinn, that stings.

And then to add insult to injury, Dr Simon came and tried to help….Quinn needing professional help?! Never! And Quinn let him know. Obviously, we can all see that Quinn probably would benefit from it, but Quinn being Quinn, we both know that’s not likely to happen. As you said, this wasn’t an easy episode for Quinn by any means and once she starts spiraling, everyone better get out of the way.

Anything else you want to say about Quinn before I move on to another person who started on a downward spiral this episode? Of course, I’m talking about Rachel.

While her descent hasn’t quite reached Quinn-level, it’s headed there. Fast. As soon as she arrived on set and August asked her for super-secret updates on Africa, surrounding by a gooey glow-y aura that can only mean trouble for Rachel, we knew that vow of celibacy was about to go out the window. That being said, the conversation I found most interesting was the one between her and Dr. Simon. Rachel isn’t the only one who can dole out some #truth.

Dr Simon: Your version of essential honesty just feels kind of blame-y. Like you’re using it as a shield….it just seems like nothing is ever your fault, you blame everyone else for your anger. I’m just wondering, have you ever tried turning that essential honesty on yourself?

Tina, what did you think of this flip-of-script and the suggestion that Rachel hold the mirror up to herself?

Tina: Well, I’m pretty sure what Rachel and I think are very different. Much like Quinn, the walls she’s constructed to protect herself are massive (but easily penetrable if you ask me). I love what Dr. Simon had to say even though Rachel didn’t. I also love how she described the set of Everlasting as a “trigger buffet” which lets me know that maybe she should take herself out of this equation.

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/Lifetime

But she is good at her job. When she wants to cause destruction, it’s easy for her to manipulate a la starting a Russia vs. US war with the suitors. That karaoke session ended in chaos and mayhem and it’s all because Rachel engineered it. Sure, it gave Quinn the big season-long promo moment (promoment?) but, man, the brawl or whatever you want to call it was a disaster. One that Gary didn’t appreciate until that promoment.

Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

The money shot of the suitor picking up Serena and carrying her off to salvation was worth every punch, apparently. Even though they had to smooth things over financially and narcissistically with Billy getting some product integration for his company plus a tire wrench into the next week of the competition.

The way Rachel manipulates is like a second skin to her. It’s scary. And so I completely agree with what Dr. Simon said to her. I mean, don’t get me wrong. The blame doesn’t just rest on her. These are bad people she associates with at work.

But at a certain point she needs to own responsibility and work on her anger issues. In a way that’s not so trendy. This might mean she needs to actually open up to a therapist. Definitely not her mom. That woman is not good for Rachel. If she can’t turn to Dr. Simon (like she needs to) then maybe someone else.

Oh and I did love when Madison said to Jay that Rachel’s having her breakdown early this season. It’s so true. Right now she thinks she’s partaking in essential honesty, but she isn’t. Or she is but only when it suits her.

Thoughts on Rachel?

Cortney: Whether I condone what she does or not (and for the record, I don’t), I definitely can’t deny that she’s darn good at her job. I didn’t even realize her drinking-on-the-balcony moment was all part of her plan to instigate an international brawl…and yet, she was playing the pawns and could see all the chess moves as they rolled out in front of her.

That being said, this place is not good for her and I agree that the people she’s surrounded with at work don’t help — it’s like putting a gambling addict in a casino and telling them not to gamble or a drug addict in a drug den and telling them to stay clean, the odds are stacked against them. And yes, the fact that she recognizes that this is a trigger buffet and still partakes in it is not a good sign. She’s not far enough in her recovery to face this and she definitely needs to take responsibility for herself.

I’m totally in agreement that in no way, shape or form should she turn to her mom for help. That never ends well. Rachel needs truth in a way that’s brutal but also conveyed on her level and I think Dr. Simon could be the one to supply that. Or at least I hope he can.

Now on to one of the things that set Rachel off her course, Chet. Rachel is good at her job. She’s a pro with the suitors and until now, an expert-manipulator with the bachelor/ette.

Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

But with Serena, things are different. She’s smart, headstrong and a bit stubborn, all things Rachel has dealt with before. But she’s also just not that good with guys, which is a new challenge in and of itself. Both Adam and Darius were smooth and suave and could charm the ladies, but Serena’s I’m-a-woman-hear-me-roar poker playing didn’t go over so well. Insert Chet. Professional man-thropologist who didn’t mince words when it came to giving advice.

Chet: All you have to do to keep a guy forever is bake him cookies and give him blow jobs….you gotta make space for the guy, you gotta make him feel important.

And with a bit of an assist from Madison as to how to charm a guy, Chet had Serena in his pocket. She was ready to be flirty and ditzy and put on a sparkly, cleavage-baring dress, giving up all her power to make these guys fall for her. And sadly, it worked. I can’t blame Rachel for not being on board, but then again, what she’s doing isn’t exactly of high moral standing either. Tina, what did you think of all of this? First from the Chet/Madison/Rachel perspective? Then from the Serena perspective?

Tina: All I have to say about Madison is: When did she become an expert on men? Just because she figured out how to get with Gary doesn’t mean she’s all that. Having said that, she’s looking way more polished this season.

As for Serena, she was a bit exhausting to watch. She was anal to the point where she basically compiled post-it dossiers on the suitors. That alone was a lot. But then she had to basically obliterate the men when they played poker. She drove them away but quick.

Unfortunately, she decided to take Chet’s advice. She knew her Type A approach needed evolving. Sure she had men fighting over her (literally) but it was just as hard to watch her dumb herself down for attention. And that’s what she did. I mean, it worked but is this how you want to attract attention when you’re a female Elon Musk? I just love how Owen (I think that’s his name) conveyed how much he liked the other Serena.

It was also difficult to take Rachel once again fronting this agenda she has for this show. She wants to prove to the world that a Suitress can be smart, beautiful and not compromise herself in order to get a man. And as much as I am on Team Rachel on this point, Everlasting may not be the place to validate this experiment. This is trashy reality TV. Not NPR or PBS. Is that bad of me to say? Cortney, I used to watch Bachelor and Bachelorette (emphasis on used to). I wasn’t watching it for substance.

Cortney: I don’t know that I’d say Madison is more polished, but she certainly has gotten better at playing the game and knowing who to align herself with. And getting rid of the pigtails definitely hasn’t hurt either.

Tina: I only meant her looks are more polished. Nothing else. Yes, she’s gotten better at playing the game but she still seems like a little girl playing in a woman’s world.

Cortney: As far as Serena, I absolutely loved Owen (if that’s not his name, it is now!) calling her out. That’s what she needed to shake her out of this and shouldn’t you want someone who likes you for who you are?!

Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

I mean, if one of these guys falls for fake Serena, does she just plan on dumbing herself down for the rest of her life to please him?? I can’t even begin to get on board with that…she’s a powerhouse, she should be proud of that. Yes, she needs to figure out how to convey it a little better and loosen up a bit, but that doesn’t mean she still can’t own her intelligence or accomplishments.

As far as Rachel, I agree. She needs to stop fooling herself. If she really wants to make a difference, she needs to go somewhere else. That being said, if she COULD change things at Everlasting and make it a platform for good, that would be the ultimate feather in her cap. However, the odds are stacked against her as far as that ever happening and she would be smart to hedge her bets elsewhere. But we both know Rachel has never really been one to make the smart decision and as such, she’ll obviously continue fighting this uphill battle until it breaks her. Again.

What else? Is there anything else you wanted to touch on about the guys, the fight or where you see things going?

Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

Tina: Just that the chemistry between Rachel and August is pretty hot. I don’t think she should be involved in a relationship but, man, they are smokin’. And I feel like we’re already at 15 on a toxic scale of 1 to 10. But that’s Everlasting. The show gives us an endless supply of toxicity and darkness. Can’t wait to find out what’s in store next week.

UnREAL airs Mondays at 10pm/9c on Lifetime.

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One Comment

  1. I think the most interesting thing about Madison is that she doesn’t really believe any of that shit about having a man being better than a career-if she truly believed this she wouldn’t be working where she’s working, she’d be a young person off at college or doing whatever it is they do. Instead she’s chosen to work at Everlasting. She was saying that for the sole purpose of getting under Quinn’s skin, which is ironic because she basically wants Quinn’s job but is unwilling to put in the real work like Quinn did. She’s not an expert on men by any means, she’s just telling Chet what he wants to hear. Madison wants to bring down Quinn so she can take her place, that is her motivation and everything she does revolves around that goal.

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