'UnREAL' Cast and Creators Tease Season Finale: "The Gloves are Off"

THR caught up with the cast and creators of Lifetime's hit drama Thursday at a Paley Center panel.
Getty Images/Courtesy of The Paley Center for Media

Is happily ever after coming to Everlasting? Well, that depends, according to UnREAL’s co-creator, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro.

“Rachel gets everything she deserves and then some!” Shapiro told The Hollywood Reporter Thursday at a Paley Center event. She then cheekily added, “You can interpret that however you want.”

Shapiro joined fellow creator and showrunner Marti Noxon as well as castmembers Shiri Appleby (Rachel Goldberg), Constance Zimmer (Quinn King), Freddie Stroma (Adam Cromwell), Josh Kelly (Jeremy Caner), Craig Bierko (Chet Wilton) and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Jay Carter) to celebrate the drama’s hit first season. Prior to the panel, fans were treated to sneak preview of Monday’s highly anticipated season finale.

The reality-skewering UnREAL is one of the surprise hits of the summer and has not shied away from going to some dark places (eating disorders, prostitution and suicide, oh my!) The response, however, has been overwhelmingly positive, according to the women behind producing powerhouses Rachel and Quinn.

“A lot of the feedback that we’ve got is that people are interested in seeing complicated women on screen,” Appleby told THR, noting that it’s exciting to see a character like hers as an “anti-hero.”

Zimmer agreed. “[It’s] also flawed women, we don’t get to see that very often. People want more of it actually,” she said. “I was worried … in the beginning, about [Quinn] being too hostile, but in watching the season and hearing people’s comments, I now know that I can go further with it.”

Noxon, who also exec produces Bravo's scripted series Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce, is appreciative of the way roles for women have expanded in recent years. 

“The last couple years have opened the door to so much new stuff. With this and with Girlfriend’s and [Gone Girl], these are all really unusual female characters,” she said. “The floodgates have really opened for content and they see things like Transparent and Orange Is the New Black working and [shows] where women aren’t playing those conventional roles. It’s a new day.”

Reflecting on the first season of UnREAL, she said one of the scenes she really fought for was Rachel’s backstory with her mother. “Once you understand where she comes from, that scene with her mother — I was pretty proud of that because that’s a kind of 'effed up I don’t think we see a lot of on TV, mental Munchausen’s by-proxy.”

Of course, viewers are waiting with bated breath to see what happens to the complicated and occasionally infuriating Rachel in Monday’s finale, especially as she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. In the penultimate episode, Rachel had resolved to playing house with Jeremy, holing up in his cabin and finally writing her novel.

“Jeremy is more interesting than he’s been shown before," said Kelly. "Jeremy has nowhere to go but up, Adam has nowhere to go but down. Jeremy will always be the better guy and will continue to get better.”

On the other hand, Rachel has the temptation of suitor Adam, who gave her perhaps a more tempting offer — the two of them could hop on his plane run away together. “Hey, #TeamJeremy, Jeremy cheated. Just saying,” said Stroma. “#TeamAdam is going to give [Rachel] excitement whereas #TeamJeremy is just going to get kind of boring. He’s not going to let her spread her wings.”

Of course, the big question lingering in many fans’ minds is whether Everlasting’s dashing suitor will return for the show’s second season (it was renewed earlier this month.) Stroma said that no plans are in place yet, but he’s hopeful Adam can return in some capacity.

Also hoping for a return is fan-favorite Faith (Breeda Wool). Noxon and Shapiro singled out the Faith story as one of the ones they were most proud of during the panel, and how it didn’t necessarily have a happy, “liberal” ending.

Other favorite scenes for the pair included the pilot scene between Rachel and Brittany, the smoking scene at the end of episode three and some yet to come in the finale. Hint: One involves a bed and the other Noxon described as a "pretty divisive" scene that they had to fight for.

However, for both Shapiro and Noxon, it really all came down to the relationship between Rachel and Quinn. The actresses shared that sentiment. “The first or second day of shooting, I went up to Constance and I was like, ‘I just want you to know, I think the real love story of the show is between the two of us,’” Appleby recalled.

Sarcastically jumping in, Zimmer added, “That’s when I said, ‘F--- off and leave me alone.' ... I’m so nurturing.”

So what else can fans expect from this finale? “We’ve [already] had many twists and turns, [but] I think we’re really going to deliver a few more gut punches in this episode," said Noxon.

Teased Zimmer, “The gloves are off, from everybody”

Excited for the finale? Theories on what will go down? Sound off in the comments below.

The UnREAL season finale airs Monday at 10 p.m. on Lifetime. The network is replaying the entire season prior to the finale starting at 12 p.m.

Twitter: @NotPhelan

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