Picture this: Many years ago, on an early season of The Bachelorette, it was the eve of an Elimination ceremony, and the Bachelorette was hysterically crying, refusing to come out of her room.
Maybe she didn’t like her dress or her makeup, or most likely, it was about the guy she wanted to keep but was strongly encouraged to send home.
Cast and crew were waiting, but nothing was happening. Over Walkie, I heard a call for The Supervising Producer to fly in -- a very Quinn-esque, very scary woman nobody wants to see, mainly if that somebody is not playing by the strict rules of her contract.
The Sup Prod -- let’s just call her Quinn – emerged from the control room, came clomping into the house, up to the Bachelorette’s bedroom, busted open her door, and slammed it behind her. The poor girl begged, “I have to call my mom. I need to call my mom. Please let me talk to my mom."
Quinn doesn't miss a beat, screams at the top of her lungs, “RIGHT NOW, I AM YOUR FUCKING MOM!”
And guess what happened next? Our Bachelorette wiped the tears and mascara off her face, got into her gown, and found her way onto set. She did her job and likely cut whomever she had to create the story she was told would be best. Because that’s how it’s done.
I share that very true tale for one reason -- to illustrate exactly where UnREAL came from -- the “behind the scenes” of what cast and crew witness, what we participate in, and often have no choice but to make even worse.
Because that is our job as unscripted dating show producers.
Those who've read my reviews know I've been super "Rah Rah Rah" since UnREAL Season 3 kicked off, because I wanted it to succeed so badly ... To return to its first season glory days as a critical darling.
I hoped the series would come back from the UnREAL Season 2 that nearly cost us the franchise with a vengeance! Without racial, religious, or political plot lines specially designed so the writers could use words like "zeitgeist."
I prayed that it would stay sexy, maybe even get hotter ... That it would take a deep dive into both Rachel AND Quinn while bursting at the seams with exciting new stories drawn out by the first female Suitress,
All while staying away from the RIDICULOUS MURDERS and SUICIDES for which the crew was (a-) typically responsible.
Only, then would we have our beloved UnREAL back. And only then would it stay on our radar as MUST NOT MISS TV that we might even get up on our feet and applaud. (OK, pushing it.)
Perhaps overly empathetic and protective of my fellow TV makers —the writers, producers, talent, casts, and crews -- I may have judged the first half of the season unfairly. Been too soft, too easy, and too kind.
While other critics scowled, I cheered. When they condemned, I praised. Though I heard "Boos," I continued to applaud. Until now.
To the true UnREAL Fanatics (if there are any of you left), I apologize for coming at this all wrong. This week, while the critic in me takes over, my inner showrunner is riding the pines on the bench. Hell yaas!
It's time to stop being polite and start getting UnREAL.
Have you guys heard of "The Sandwich Method?" It's when you have something negative to say, but deliver it beginning with a compliment. Then you give all the bad news (aka constructive criticism) in the middle of the sandwich and then end with another piece of bread -- more positive feedback.
So here comes the first slice of bread on top of the sandwich: a compliment.
The way Quinn went over Rachel's head to get the outcome she wanted in the Hometown Hero date was certainly believable, in that it's extremely likely Quinn would do whatever's good for her empire over what's good for one of the hundreds of contestants.
Naturally, the Suitress had trouble imagining herself as Insta-Mommy ...
Riley: You’re my new mommy!”
Serena: No, I’m not!
It was actually pretty funny. Definitely funnier than when little Riley sees a clown, pees her pants, and runs into the street.
*That wasn't funny at all. Although it made for a good episode promo. (I'll give 'em that.)
Rachel, projecting her feelings about her own driven but reluctant mother, doesn’t want to force Serena into the same position.
Naturally, Quinn doesn't care.
If she’s not feeling it, we make her feel it!Quinn
Which brings me to, drum roll please ... the meat of the sandwich -- the constructive criticism in between the bread.
Here's how Hometowns actually work: when the Bachelorette is down to her final four, she visits every one of the guy's hometowns to see if she can picture herself fitting into his life.
Typically, there's a guy she's been crushing on all season long, from the very First Impression Rose, but once she goes home with him and pictures herself living in this butt crack of a town with his parents and grandparents and siblings and all their children, it tends, more times than not, to be a deal breaker.
So this dumbass idea of the producers pitching Quinn each of their suitors so she will choose one is not only unrealistic, it's lame, low-budget, and was obviously used by the writers to push Owen forward while sending Zach home.
As if we didn't know Zach was next to go anyway! While we're on the topic of things we knew were coming...
How about the idea that Peppermint Patty cannot compete with Rachel when it comes to Jeremy's heart?
Dr. Simon: I think it's best for you to keep a little distance from Rachel.
Jeremy: Oh because you're the only one that can save her now?
Simply put, Jeremy STILL wants to save Rachel from herself, as if the murders weren't enough! Obviously, P.P. has nothin' on R.G.
Another not-so big surprise that we've known was coming ever since Rachel dropped her dad off at treatment on UnREAL Season 3 Episode 6 ... he didn't stay there.
Whaaaat? Really? DUH!
As we feared, Rachel's co-dependent father couldn't handle living alone and off his meds, so he called Rachel's evil mother to pick him up and bring him home.
Asa going back to Rachel's mom most likely means we're not done with Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg or Rachel's (never-ending) teenage abuse plot quite yet. SIGH.
And moving on over to storylines that are 100% unrealistic, let's start with Jay and Alexi.
Say we all buy the Jay and Alexi relationship. Say we believe a producer would get drugs for an addict in exchange for sexual favors and an agreement to host an International Dance Show. (Spoiler alert: We do not buy this at all.)
Are we then expected to believe that same producer would hang out with the talent while doing blow, making out, and TAKING PICTURES OF THE TWO OF THEM TOGETHER?
The idea that Jay would take photographic evidence of his sordid, guaranteed-to-cost-him-his-job affair with a contestant who was actually cast AND is still in the running for The Suitress is RIDICULOUS!
Especially when such photos could destroy the chances of Jay's first TV show coming to fruition -- of which Alexi is the star! COME ON!!
OK, well here comes the other slice of bread to finish off the sandwich.
I'm talking, of course, about August and Jasper digging deep, and getting dirty. Who doesn't love a fine man with a really big hose he's not afraid to use to make you wet?
Uh oh, my man is really gonna love that one.
Tell me, UnREAL Fanatics, how did you like my not-all-hearts-and-rainbows review? Did anyone miss my THUMBS ALL THE WAY UP more positive take?
Or was it a truly UnREAL relief? There are only two episodes left until the season finale! Guesses on what's coming next?
What are your final three predictions?
Don't forget, you can watch UnREAL online to see all your favorite episodes -- even from prior seasons!
Rebecca Eisen was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in September 2018.