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UnReal Thoughts
My White House
sunclouds33
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.
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So, I feel like there's an "emperor with no clothes" aspect to seeing Rachel this year.

YES. It's particularly interesting because the general trope of Rachel's kind of manipulation has held a lot of potency and mystique for TV audiences in recent years, and UnR is being ruthless in ~deflating it and making Rachel look... IDK how to put it exactly... small. Like, she doesn't loom large the way she did 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.

Yeah, the show is GREAT at depicting how extreme the disparity can be between self-image and reality, how OTT people can be in buying into their lies about themselves with absolute sincerity. Based on the fandoms I know, there's often a frustrated expectation from the audience with such characters that they should have a moment of awareness or realization, and that if they don't, it means the show/writers aren't aware of the reality? And I don't think that's the case--like Rachel could easily go the rest of her days genuinely believing she's fighting The Good Fight for Righteous Reasons.

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.

OMG this. I'm watching through my fingers...

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.

I love Yael and I hope she screws Jeremy over, ugh. She could do so much better... :///

Yeah, the show is GREAT at depicting how extreme the disparity can be between self-image and reality, how OTT people can be in buying into their lies about themselves with absolute sincerity. Based on the fandoms I know, there's often a frustrated expectation from the audience with such characters that they should have a moment of awareness or realization, and that if they don't, it means the show/writers aren't aware of the reality? And I don't think that's the case--like Rachel could easily go the rest of her days genuinely believing she's fighting The Good Fight for Righteous Reasons.

Well, I've had that frustration. Although, I have less of a cranky expectation that the anti-hero recognize their badness so much as the people around them should recognize the badness to make it real to me. UnReal never let me down in that point. LOTS of people call Rachel out. To the point, that I actually end up a little on Rachel's side when Jay and Jeremy act like they're not in the exact same business. Or in Quinn's tantrum on loyalty when I'm inclined to agree with a Rachel with the balls to just say that, "You sunk any loyalty when you withdrew my promotion and then, treated me like garbage afterwards" but I just continue to be aggravated at the Rachel that we get who colors her betrayal under "I'm just trying to do what's best for the show and my PoC agenda!" phoniness because she's not ready to openly declare war on Quinn.

UnReal actually makes the A ---> B dyad clear in Rachel's manipulations and the ugly results. Like, you I'm REALLY watching through my fingers re: Darrius's health. Showing the ugly result of a crippled Darrius is right in the UnReal Unflinching Real Talk Playbook.

I love Yael and I hope she screws Jeremy over, ugh. She could do so much better... :///


LOL, I think it's also meaningful that Jeremy let himself go between S1 and S2. He was cute in S1, even though I always found him skeevy. Since then, he's put on like fifteen pounds and for a guy who can speak on such authority on Rachel's hygiene, Jeremy looks unwashed in S2. It's particularly implausible that he'd bed Yael if she didn't have other uses for him.

Totally agreed on how Rachel's manipulation is being shown – very effective in the short-term but she doesn't have any follow-up. And it works really well seeing this in S2, because the audience knows her and like the crew can see her starting it all again with her new batch of girls/Darius. I think Jay's turning on her is part of her lessened effectiveness – he's willing to tell his girls not to trust her and has lost trust in her himself.

Although I also think he's kind of... well, he tried to get his own show out of Chet and couldn't, not unlike Rachel though she blew that up herself, and now he's stuck back there with Rachel as boss. I'm v skeptical of his “you're messing with a strong black woman's education” stuff because I think, just like Rachel, it's about getting to be self-righteous where you can because someone else did the shitty thing first.

So glad to see this post!! I want to talk about UnREAL but I'm scared of Tumblr spoilers.

Where are you in UnReal? What's a spoiler- unaired stuff or eps that aired? I really, really, really agree on Jay. He was part of the cover up on Mary's suicide and he was incredibly callous about it. His bottom is FAR lower than he likes to think of it. Maybe this is risky to say but I think Jay's priorities are silly, in and of themselves. Ruby basically taking a gap year before graduating isn't THAT destructive. There's a lot of ways for Ruby to go finish her education. Maybe if it was established that Ruby was leaving a lot of scholarship money or something by leaving school- but it wasn't IIRC. The most destructive action to Ruby, actually exists in the framework of the show itself- Ruby agrees to become a public spectacle and Ruby agrees to marry a guy that she courted under reality show conditions and didn't really get to really know if she wins.

IMO, a lot of righteous objections to Rachel from the crew-characters are that they can smell blood in the water from her obvious vulnerability and they'd like to pounce and chip away.

Edited at 2016-07-17 06:19 pm (UTC)

He was part of the cover up on Mary's suicide and he was incredibly callous about it. His bottom is FAR lower than he likes to think of it. Maybe this is risky to say but I think Jay's priorities are silly, in and of themselves

YEP. And the fact that he calls back to Rachel's S1 line "remember when there were at least a few things you wouldn't do" - like her, it's about his self-image, and clearly her criticism of him being willing to out someone on TV chafed. I'm not sure those even are his priorities, either - I feel like he totally could've justified it to himself if HE'D been the one to get Ruby on the show. But as it is, he can be all I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU DID THAT.

And specifically tying it to race politics kind of buttresses his (bad-faith) point, because then it's about the white woman manipulated a black woman into leaving uni and he is OUTRAGED, rather than the reality of Rachel getting ahead in the power dynamic and criticising her for this being how he gets back a little. (And we saw with Shia (sp?) and Rachel last season that being the one who gets a girl to sign on the dotted line is significant.) And Rachel's not going to call him on his hypocrisy because she's not going to be willing to effectively accuse him of "playing the race card". She wouldn't have a leg to stand on, either, but that's not why she doesn't say it.

*nodnod* Rachel's vulnerability is a huge part of it.

I'm up to date, but sometimes there's a lot of unaired stuff in programmes' tags. But I am up to date! And therefore also avoiding Tumblr because I feel like seeing someone going on about how Quinn threatening Jeremy was some magical feminist moment is inevitable.

I don't know if you're up to date with the last ep. In my see-saw of emotions on this show, Jay came out much better in the last ep when it came to calling out Rachel than I thought he did before. I wrote posts on the new eps.

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