The premise of Lifetime’s UnReal was very real at a certain point in time for co-creator/executive producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro. At Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys event Sunday, she shared. “I was a feminist and came out to L.A. with dreams of feminist filmmaking dancing in my head…I was going to make really important stuff and change.” In search of a day job, she ended up as a producer on The Bachelor for nine seasons, where she became “a mastermind at manipulating and destroying women.” After having a nervous breakdown,”I went to my boss and said, ‘I’m going to kill myself.’ ” Eventually, she managed to get out of her contract by leaving the state.
Shapiro’s experience sounds much like UnReal‘s lead character Rachel (played by Shiri Appleby), who, as executive producer Stacy Rukeyser described it, is a complicated woman with a “very intense internal conflict in that she is really good at what she does and she hates herself because of it. She desperately wants to leave, but she continues to stay because it feels good to be good at something and to have a place where you belong, and that is essentially the touchstone for us on the show.”
“I think you are able to enjoy your favorite show on a whole other level,” exec producer Carol Barbee said about UnReal‘s perspective on reality shows. “I think it’s really compelling. People want to know how the sausage is made.”
When asked about the response the show received from people that had worked in the reality TV genre, exec producer Robert M. Sertner claimed that it had been positive. “It’s unbelievable how everyone says, ‘This is how it is.’ “
Season 2 of UnReal premieres June 6.