The summer television season is upon us, and with it comes the return of some fan favorites (including Hannibal and Strike Back). However, summer’s often also used as a place of experimentation for television networks with programming in their library that may not be able to compete with the heavy-hitters of the fall and spring. This brings us to Lifetime’s newest series, UnREAL.
Starring Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer, UnREAL is a new drama about the behind-the-scenes conflicts that occurs during the production of a Bachelor type dating show. Obviously that premise doesn’t sound like the most exciting idea in the world, nor does the fact that the show’s coming from Lifetime. But, believe it or not, UnREAL isn’t just good, it’s damn near fantastic… and Lifetime has released the first nine minutes of the pilot episode to help prove it.
You can watch the opening minutes of UnREAL for yourself, above.
What’s infinitely clear in these nine minutes (and even more so in the first three episodes of the show that were sent to various members of the press) is the confidence level of the series is at an extreme high. There’s no second guessing going on with UnREAL. It’s a show that’s coming out of the gate swinging for the fences - and it’s that level of sureness that’s going to propel it into the stratosphere of summer television.
Co-created by indie film producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Marti Noxon, the writing of the series is giving serious weight to its premise. Meanwhile, the delivery from the cast (particularly on the part of Constance Zimmer) is nearly Sorkin-esc with a touch of Shonda Rhimes. Essentially, this is all one long winded way of saying UnREAL is a must watch program for this coming summer, especially if audiences really want to believe there’s hope in non-franchise, non-IP based television.
UnREAL is likewise something fresh and different packaged within the idea of a premise we’ve seen before (behind the scenes of a television production a la 30 Rock). Sorkin’s done a lot, but he’s never stepped into the shadows of reality television production - thankfully, though, Shapiro has (in real life), and it shows. This opening clip has a voice and resonance and, frankly, all the things any good television show must have in order to succeed.
So, don’t let its channel trick you into thinking it’s going to be nothing of a soapy, melodramatic piece of trash. UnREAL is excellent television and is very much going to put its money where its mouth is, over the remainder of the summer.
UnREAL premieres Monday, June 1st, 2015 at 10/9c on Lifetime.