'UnREAL' Team Talks Tackling Race in Season 2: "We Don’t Want to Fall Asleep at the Wheel"

Unreal Still - H 2015
James Dittiger

Unreal Still - H 2015

UnREAL is going where The Bachelor has never gone before.

The upcoming second season of Lifetime's critically acclaimed drama will center on a new season of Bachelor-like reality show-within-the-show Everlasting and its new star, an African-American football star named Darius.

"We don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel," co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro told reporters Wednesday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour of the decision to take on the delicate subject.

The Bachelor, famously, has come under fire for not featuring an African-American bachelor, or bachelorette, for that matter, over the ABC reality staple's 14-year run. However, Shapiro said that race will play a big part of the upcoming second season — a particularly topical discussion in the midst of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

and if we pushed it far enough in terms of shock value [while] also keeping it believable," co-creator Marti Noxon told THR."]

"In an era where driving while black is dangerous, there are few more things more pressing than this conversation," Shapiro said. "We really want to keep talking about stuff that we're passionate about."

Executive producer Carol Barbee believes UnREAL, because of its take on Hollywood, will be able to offer a new perspective on the conversation. [This show] gives us this unique opportunity to also make a statement about the media trying to make a statement about race and so that’s also what we're doing," she said. "It's really fun to watch a bunch of white women try and school the world on race."

Although its been a challenge so far – it's one the writers have found fulfilling to take on. "The writers room has been super intensive so far but in a great way," Shapiro said. "I feel like I'm thinking about race differently than I was four weeks ago because of the conversations we've been having. They can be incredibly uncomfortable but that's what our show is about, being incredibly uncomfortable."

In addition to Everlasting's new suitor and crop of contestants, Lifetime confirmed several returning series regulars for season two. In addition to stars Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer, Craig Bierko will be back as Everlasting creator, and Quinn's ex, Chet, as well as field producer Jay (Jeffrey-Bowyer Chapman). Most notably, Rachel's ex-boyfriend Jeremy (Josh Kelly) will return.

Said Barbee, "He's coming back pretty angry and gunning for Rachel."

UnREAL returns this summer to Lifetime. The entire first season will be available to stream on Hulu beginning Feb. 3.