UnREAL season 3 may be delayed, but apparently, a fourth run has already been ordered. The Lifetime series nabbed early acclaim when it debuted in 2015, tracing the behind-scenes scandals of Everlasting, a reality dating show with pointed ties to real-life franchises like The Bachelor. It was created by Buffy the Vampire Slayer vet Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who worked as producer on The Bachelor for nine seasons throughout the early 2000s. (The project is also based in part on her award-winning short film Sequin Raze, which similarly took aim at reality TV.)
Shiri Appleby stars as Rachel Goldberg, a young but jaded producer burying her personal issues while trying to push for more responsibility on set, while Constance Zimmer (Entourage) plays her callous boss, Quinn King, an executive who frequently abandons ethical boundaries in favor of high ratings. The show was picked up for a third season ahead of its season 2 premiere, but was later pushed back, marking a year and a half gap between outings.
Now, Variety reports UnREAL has been renewed through season 4. The news comes as somewhat of a surprise, given the criticism that trailed season 2. The series' first run was largely well received, even landing Emmy noms for Outstanding Writing for A Drama Series for Noxon and Shapiro and Outstanding Supporting Actress for Zimmer.
UnREAL season 2, while still a hit ratings-wise, proved more controversial with critics. Many reviewers knocked it as "messy" and "off the rails," particularly in regard to "Ambush", an episode chastised for its portrayal of police violence. In it, Rachel decides to stir up drama by calling in a false car-theft accusation for black suitor Darius and his friend Romeo, but when the cops arrive, things quickly shift out of control. Rachel yells at an officer, startling him, and he shoots Romeo. Many took issue with the way it put Rachel, a white woman, at the forefront, prioritizing her trauma in a scenario unique to the black experience.
Producers argued that they had included scenes of Romeo and Darius, but that they were ultimately cut for time. They did, however, admit they should have fought harder to keep them, and that they took the feedback to heart. "If that’s not an OK story to tell, that’s definitely a valid viewpoint," executive producer Stacy Rukeyser told The Hollywood Reporter last August.
But while the series may have missed the mark the second time around, there's still time to make a comeback - and the fact that Lifetime has already greenlit a season 4 without first gauging response to season 3 is a vote of confidence for UnREAL's future storylines.
UnREAL season 3 premieres in early 2018.