Before the third season of UnREAL even began, viewers, critics, and fans all asked the same question: Will the third installment breathe new life into the struggling series?
Can the writers course correct the show from a disappointing second chapter, and return our beloved series to what it once was... F*cking great TV!?
The verdict has been in for a while now: The third run is better than the second, but definitely not as good as the first.
Kicking the new season off with guns blazing, UnREAL Season 3 tended to be its most delicious when it served up stories we hadn’t seen play out in the past.
Like with Jay, who waited several years for a storyline of his own and finally got one ... Only to leverage Alexi's drug addiction into his own TV series, plus an insane blow-for-blow jobs affair with the semi-straight contestant -- who was still in the running for the Suitress.
The B-team producer later pays for his naughty behavior when Alexi rejects him and screws Rachel instead. So juicy!
And with Madison ... little Maddy began her TV career in UnREAL Season 1 as a newbie PA in pigtails who blew Chet in the candle closet, but she came a long way in Season 3.
She's still relying on her youth and sexuality to secure her spot in the industry, only now Madison has used her pussy to unzip her way up the CORPORATE ladder.
By the start of the finale, she's screwed network bigwig Gary, before finding her balls, and screwing him OVER to stand with Quinn.
Madison doesn't stay standing for long, however, catching the blame for Quinn's computer crash.
Madison, you backstabbing little rodent.You’re fired. I was willing to give you a million chances to help grow the thick skin you need in this business. Because we are a family, a dysfunctional insane asylum, yes, but a family. I don’t keep traitors in my family.Quinn
Madison is excommunicated from the inner circle, until Quinn finds out Fiona was the real rat, and brings Maddy back for the finale.
Now that's seriously original story progress!
On UnREAL Season 3 Episode 9, the message is clear. While on each season of Everlasting, the suitors and their pick of contestants have changed, behind the scenes, most everything has remained the same.
The political battles, gender wars, and co-dependencies first introduced in Season 1 not only still exist, they are as toxic and as dysfunctional as ever.
The members of Quinn’s family, Chet, Jeremy, and Rachel, have worked on themselves. The boys (mostly) gave up their original vices-- the drugs and the booze-- and Rachel reconciled her painful past, but that still leaves their primary addictions to life on set, and to each other intact.
Rachel and Quinn...
When we first met Rachel in Season 1, she'd returned to produce another season of Everlasting after an epic on-screen meltdown the season prior. Stealing a car and going rogue in Mexico landed her in jail, until Quinn rescued Rachel.
Setting her free from endless community service, and parole officer check-ins in the true spirit of Everlasting, Quinn put Rachel back to work and replaced her court-appointed psychiatric with on-set shrink, Dr. Wagerstein.
And so began the co-dependent relationship between Quinn and her mini-me.
Rachel has come a long way in her own journey, from donning a THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE t-shirt when we first meet her in Season 1, to where she is by the start of Season 3: single-handedly getting the Suitress -- a feminist in her own right -- cast as the first female star of Everlasting.
With the Serena came a house full of half-naked men, who parked their hot asses on Everlasting soil, right in Rachel and Quinn’s backyard.
Despite being tempted by, and Quinn even sampling, the fruits of another -- the Money-Dick-Power duo managed to maintain their showrunner status’ all season long without getting downgraded, dismissed, or dethroned.
If Rachel and Quinn’s relationship is the heart of UnREAL, their co-dependency is its erratic pulse -- beating normally one minute, quivering, even throbbing the next.
Case in point: at the start of the season, Quinn hunts down Rachel on a farm and reels her back in by admitting she not only needs Rachel but also misses her.
But after a few Everlasting episodes, during one of Rachel and Quinn's many fights, the mentor comes at her mentee for going against her wishes.
Rachel: You begged me to come back.
Quinn: I wanted my dragon back, not this mess.
Rachel: You begged me to come back.
Still, Rachel and Quinn's co-dependency reached new heights during the third season when Quinn recruits a new credible psychiatrist specifically to watch over Rachel's mental health, and when Rachel, after confronting her rapist, returns to set and crawls into Quinn's lap.
With Quinn and Rachel as dysfunctional, but as powerful as ever, what’s the only thing to potentially bring the two badass bitches down?
The guys who can’t seem to let them go.
As we near the end of the season in the mansion, Chet and Jeremy are feeling particularly nostalgic, desperately trying to hold on to their past loves.
Where the lady bosses stand by the end of part 1 of the finale is unique to UnREAL -- in their personal relationships, it is the females who've come to have all the power.
Rachel and Jeremy...
At the start of Season 1, Jeremy was engaged to another girl, but blew up that relationship by fooling around with Rachel, only to find out she tried running away with that season's suitor, Adam Cromwell.
Jeremy, mortified in front of cast and crew, swore Rachel would never play him again.
Not to outdo himself or anything, but by the end of season 2, he still had so much love for Miss Goldberg that he ended two other lives to protect hers.
And by the end of part 1 of the finale, Jeremy's still very much under Rachel's spell.
Jeremy: You used me again. I killed two people for you.You made me a murderer.
Rachel: I know, I did that to you. I’m so sorry.
Quinn and Chet...
At the start of Season 1, the first time we see Chet and Quinn together, Chet's banging Quinn at her desk between premiere night takes, even though he's married and his wife's pregnant.
Chet's also a total stoner with an affinity for cocaine and any woman willing to touch or taste his penis.
Throughout the years, however, despite broken engagements, scandals, lawsuits and other lovers, we know that Quinn and Chet truly love each other.
So after finally hooking up again before the fundraiser, Chet can't focus on Crystal's stuffed mushroom appetizers because he's all about Quinn's HOT BUNS.
Now Chet wants to lock Quinn down once and for all.
Chet: As long as we’re together, there’s nothing we can’t do, Kiddo. I'm breaking up with Crystal.
Quinn: Don’t. I don’t want to go down that road again. You saw my house. That’s my plan for the future.
Quinn's the one to say 'Thanks, but no thanks' and chooses herself.
Meanwhile, the objects of the boy's affection, Quinn and Rachel, are working to insure the TV show they run succeeds.
On Everlasting, Serena's down to her final three but knows who she wants in the end.
After Serena and Rachel exchange 'JUST GOT LAID' stories (wherein Serena doesn't even flinch upon hearing Rachel got it on with Alexi,), the Suitress and her trusted handler get down to business.
Who's it gonna be, Serena?
Serena: August might be exactly what I need.
Rachel: Quinn really wants it to be Owen.
Serena: Quinn doesn’t care about my life, but I know you do.
Rachel: Screw it. August it is.
Serena: You’re just gonna break ranks? What will you tell Quinn?
Rachel: You’re my girl!
But on the big night honoring ’The Chet Wilton School of Reality TV Studies,' while the final three suitors raise funds to score a spot in Serena's final two, Gary gives Quinn some bad news.
Those emails she had, meant to expose Gary for the dirty dog he is, have been wiped from Quinn's computer.
(Oh come on, really, she didn't have copies?)
Unbeknownst to Rachel and Quinn, their positions of power have come under attack by… guess who? Other women.
Granted, the third season was shot before the Weinstein scandal sparked the #MeToo movement. Still, in Hollywood, there are simply not enough powerful positions to go around for women.
So if a capable female with the same talent as one of her male counterparts wants a piece of the teensy-tiny female power pie, there often seems no other way than to steal whatever slice another lady boss has already been served.
Even Chet realizes it's hard out there for a chick.
Chet: I’m beginning to think there’s something to that whole double standard thing you go on and on about. This town really is tougher on ladies!
Quinn: You think?
At the fundraiser, it's no surprise to see Robin the reporter, whom Quinn threw off set earlier in the season, in attendance as Gary's guest.
But the second Quinn spies Robin chatting it up with her annoying and apparently dangerous new BFF, Fiona, she should have smelled a rat.
Turns out the real threat to the Executive Producer's livelihood is in fact, Fiona, who double-crosses Quinn to score a job with Gary.
Quinn hasn't a clue that Fiona's behind the whole attempt to take her down. Quinn only knows she's suddenly in crisis, and there's only one person who can make it all OK.
She needs Rachel to save the day by creating an epic distraction, so Gary can't use the evening to humiliate Quinn and end her career.
Rachel is suddenly faced with a Sophie's Choice: She must decide between honoring her commitment to land Serena the love she deserves, and being there for the woman who's been her everything -- on set and off -- for years.
Quinn: She’s a contestant, Rachel, come on. This my life, my career. This is all I have. Come on, please.
Rachel: I got you.
And just like that, Serena becomes a casualty of (Quinn and Gary's) war.
Rachel MEANT to have Serena's back. Really, she did.
Caught up in the brawl Rachel produced, between Owen, the war hero and August, the pacifist -- the Suitress faces her first truly difficult decision.
Though I'm personally cheering for Serena to GIVE PEACE A CHANCE...
She cuts the dashing do-gooder before August can say, 'I'll be back for season 4.'
Of course, that means Quinn gets exactly what she wanted.
Quinn: I need a class warfare finale. Owen versus Jasper. It’s like Downton Abbey, but with a hot fireman. I’d watch the shit out of that, wouldn’t you?
Jay: Uh huh.
And so, we lean into the final chapter of the season, with Serena in position to choose between Owen, the brave single father, and Jasper, the Wall street wolf.
Before the cast and crew pack up and leave the mansion to shoot the Everlasting finale in Serena's hometown in Connecticut, Quinn has unfinished business to tend to with the doctor on call.
Remember, UnREAL Fanatics, how Quinn let Wagerstein take the fall for Mary's suicide in season 2?
In season 3, Rachel's mentor subbed in Dr. Simon, a highly ethical man of integrity (AND A BIT OF A SNOOZE) to watch over her mentee.
Fast forward to Simon spending some time on the set of Everlasting, and before we knew it, the good doctor was behaving very, very badly.
By the time we get to finale night, Dr. Simon has strongly encouraged Rachel to end her dysfunctional relationship with Quinn.
You’re willing to sacrifice every relationship you have for these things you do for Quinn. What she asks you to do, Rachel, is not what love looks like.You already broke off one dysfunctional relationship when you cut ties with your mother. Now you have a decision to make. Can you do it again, with Quinn?Dr. Simon
When the doc acted horrified at Rachel's attempt to bone him, UnREAL BRILLIANTLY threw us off his sleazy trail, until the truth finally comes out as the season finale catches its stride.
After everything the analyst did to seem like The Wizard of Oz, while making Quinn out to be The Wicked Witch, it all comes to a head when Quinn finds the hidden camera.
The doctor and the woman who hired him to go toe to toe. Dr. Simon tells Quinn there's no version of the job or relationship with her that will ever be healthy for Rachel.
And just like that, it's a wrap on Dr. Simon.
Alas, the evil doctor doesn't go quietly. Instead, he travels all the way to Connecticut to tell his patient how he really feels.
You’ve touched my heart. Now it makes sense for us to be together. I love you, Rachel.Dr. Simon
The lesson here, ladies? Even if a guy won't screw you when you come onto him … NEVER trust a man with a spy cam.
Rachel still has a finale to pull off and for some reason, she's not encoraging the Suitress to choosing either one of the eligible bachelors.
Possibly, because Rachel cares about Serena's happiness and doesn't want her to settle.
More likely, though, Rachel knows Serena turning both men down will give the show a better finale, not to mention a stronger finish for feminism.
Before we get to the big event, Madison arrives just in time to welcome Gary and his WIFE to finale night.
Unfazed by Maddy's deliberate, "You didn't tell me you were married" quip, Quinn has one hell of a backup plan.
There are 11 women from Gary's past lined up to take him down once and for all.
You know what happens around here, SLUTS GET CUT!Chet
Going into the live finale, nobody knows who Serena plans to pick. (NOT AT ALL realistic by Bachelor standards, but this is finale night, so I'm just going with it.)
Before we can even focus on Serena, the highlight of the Everlasting finale comes compliments of Rachel Goldberg, who's produced Chet's pretty young thing, Crystal, into coming out on stage in a wedding dress, to ask Chet to marry her LIVE!
Chet: I’m in love with someone else. I’m in love with Quinn!
Crystal: She hates you and she’s OLD.
Chet: I know!
Crystal: But I did everything right. You mean I sucked your shriveled old balls for nothing?
After flashing her breasts and promising Chet he'll never see tits like hers again, she's escorted off stage by security.
How mortifying for Crystal.
But what fantastic television, huh?
Serena's aghast -- especially when she catches Rachel smiling. Whoopsee.
As the night continues to play out, it goes out exactly as Rachel hopes, with not just one proposal, but with BOTH Owen and Jasper getting down on bended knee.
Owen proposes and is REJECTED!
Jasper proposes and is REJECTED!
Gotta love Graham serving up his best impromptu Host line to the bitter end.
And the Suitress chooses the greatest love of all... herself.Graham
Ultimately, after a record number of three proposals, nine broken hearts, one crazy chick (with great, young tits) escorted off the stage, and no wedding at all ...
Quinn not only gets great television, but also scores herself a happy ending.
Of course, Jay is still a sore loser after his coke addicted contestant rejected him and slept with Rachel.
Jay: It’s your favorite kind off finale, everyone’s a loser.
Rachel, what happened to you? This is not the girl who came back this season.
Rachel: Maybe it is. It's who I’ve always been.
Now you might be tempted to argue that everything changes for Quinn's dysfunctional family on UnREAL Season 3 Episode 10, the official final chapter of the season.
I know why you might think so -- because if you believe the state of affairs will hold up down the line, then Quinn has finally shattered the glass ceiling.
With Gary out, and both Quinn and Fiona IN, it's unofficially a win for the ladies! And it's a big win at that.
Perhaps even more importantly, we witness Rachel’s favorite ex boyfriend-turned-murder swear off the deep dark force that is Rachel Goldberg, once and for all.
I don’t want to be with you anymore, Rachel. You’re a stain I have to live with for the rest of my life, but I’d rather be alone than with you. You're gonna be alone forever and I think that’s best for everyone.Jeremy
The question is, did Jeremy REALLY leave for good this time?
When he hands the Lead Camera reins over to Charlie, it seems promising, especially when she cares enough to call Rachel an evil bitch on her way out the door.
So maybe we have Charlie and Rachel's Bitch-on-Bitch dynamic to look forward to in Season 4.
Yes, I said Season 4.
Quinn may be ready to release Rachel back into the wild, but after Serena refuses to celebrate her newfound feminist fame in the twitter-verse, we know Rachel's future in Silicon Valley is a NO-GO.
You can forget about the job, Rachel. This is exactly where you belong.Serena
Sure, Rachel and Quinn say their goodbyes.
Quinn: Anything you decide to do, you will explode and shine. You are a star.
Rachel: I don’t even know who I am anymore.
Quinn: You are a dark twisted wreck, Rachel Goldberg. And I’m going to miss every bit of it.
The camera pulls out to a wide shot of Quinn and Rachel having, what could be, their final moment together on set.
But only moments later, we find Quinn at Chet's front door.
The pair's co-dependency officially intact.
... And Madison? She pitches her pilot to the new boss in charge ...
By taking off her shirt.
... And Rachel, she's in her new cabin, all alone.
What ever will she do with her time now?
So here we are -- after three UnREAL seasons, a total of 30 episodes deep, and in the end ...
The more things change, the more they've stayed the same.
UnREAL Fanatics, you are now faced with a Sophie's Choice of your own.
The fourth installment of UnREAL has already been shot, with the new season expected to premiere on Lifetime in 2019.
Inspired by The Bachelor in Paradise scandal, Season 17 of the reality dating series is rumored to be, “EVERLASTING ALL STARS,” featuring a handful of old familiar faces, and some brand new fresh meat.
Personally, I’m coming back for that. The question is, who’s with me?
Have you watched your last episode or are you game for one more UnREAL season?
Don't forget you can watch UnREAL online to catch up on any episodes you missed.
Rebecca Eisen was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in September 2018.