I have a few UnReal thoughts from this season so far beneath the cut:
So, I feel like there's an "emperor with no clothes" aspect to seeing Rachel this year. She's kind of a one-trick-pony when it comes to manipulation. She aces the breathy, whispery "I'm your friend/lover and I'm just trying to do the right thing so follow me" trick, primarily with people who barely know her and are relatively new to her. However, she flops with every other form of manipulation. She failed at seduction as a form of manipulation with Romeo. Rome and Darrius actually outplayed her by giving a phoney motivation for why Darrius felt the need to go on Everlasting- so Rachel's big coup of landing Darrisu that she bragged about for the first two eps wasn't much of a coup on her part. She fails at presenting competence and confidence enough for the network head to give her control of Everlasting. I've never seen her successfully turn around someone who decided they now hate her- I guess other than winning Jeremy back as a boyfriend last season after he broke up with her. Quinn and even Chet always seem to do their own thing and they've profoundly unmoved by her. Rachel's "I know that we're fighting over work stuff.." to Quinn was just pitiful- everyone knew that Quinn's reaction would be "our relationship IS work stuff." Gary both has her number and is unimpressed by her as a future boss. Some of that is sexism because Coleman's not impressive either- but I think Gary correctly smelled that Rachel was far too impressed with herself because of the play to go to his house and Rachel ideally should have sent a surrogate to tattle-tale and then, talk Rachel up to keep her hands clean but really, Rachel doesn't have a credible surrogate to send because of her slash-and-burn methods of manipulation where the more experienced members of the crew have her number and either flat out hate her or find her pathetic.
We'll see if Rachel's long-term arc is to become more talented at manipulation and to graduate past the twenty-something producer who could blend a little with the contestants, as both their friend and a confidante/love interest of the male rooster, towards an actual power player at the network which is the only route to harder power in that universe. Especially as Rachel ages out of that group anyway. After seeing what Cersei pulled on Game of Thrones, it's a cautionary tale to not dismiss women prematurely as out of their depth and strategically stupid. However, she's not The Master right out of the box as she came across in S1.
Certainly in danger, the Darrius-injury really captures my general opinion that when it comes to that breathy "I just want your best interest" manipulation, Rachel is particularly potent beyond all others because she believes her own garbage...and that's what makes her dangerous. In that area, Rachel outplayed Quinn because while Quinn had the intelligence to figure out the injury, develop an episode on the fly based on it, the hard power to move around the parts from the ambulance to the crying girls on down, Quinn nakedly was happy to sacrifice Darrius's reputation and career on the alter of Quinn's goals and Darrius knew that. I think that Rachel actually does want Darrius to come out of this with his career intact and as a hero to Representation and Identity Politics (in large part because if Darrius is that hero, Rachel made it happen). There's a cackling malice to how Quinn wants to kill Darrius's career- that I just don't think exists for Rachel. Darrius responds to that and goes for Rachel's plan. However the kicker is that Quinn's plan would have merely jeapordized Darrius's career- but he'd still be getting the medical attention that his doctors insisted on and he'd have his best friend at his side. Rachel's plan severely jeopardizes Darrius's health and violates his doctor's severely worded warnings and drives a final wedge between Darrius and Romeo and probably anyone who cares about Darrius.
Rachel-critique, aside, I feel like the show correctly convinced me that whatever Rachel's other sins and faults may be, disloyalty to Quinn isn't one of them. Unless we get some unbelievable backstory that Rachel, Vassar grad and young talented girl who worked her way up, was really given this unbelievable favor by Quinn, I don't think Rachel owes Quinn a damn thing. Quinn burnt up even any the standard "mentor" loyalty this season.
Also per my Season 1 review, I argued that reality television trash shouldn't be over-demonized because there are a host of popular forms of entertainment that destroy its participants' lives and contribute to the toxicity of culture. UnReal is critiquing football almost as much as reality television this year. If Darrius becomes a paraplegic or if Tiffany is manipulated into national humiliation, the fault is also the NFL's on top of Everlasting.
I think Yael is playing it right by ingratiating herself with the crew instead of the cast. Come the end of the season, Yael will have the best edits and could be placed to make a lucrative career of bouncing through reality TV shows. She's in it for the long haul. Although, LOL, at Jeremy celebrating Yael as Hot Rachel, the more beautiful version who's also not a manipulative bitch, and falling for manipulations AGAIN. I hope Yael really fucks with him on her way to the top.
- UnReal Thoughts