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UnREAL set the bar high with insane antics in the Bachelor-inspired fictitious TV reality show Everlasting in season one, and it’s only going to get crazier in its sophomore run.
“I didn’t think we could go this dark,” star Constance Zimmer, who plays Quinn, said Monday at the Lifetime drama’s Paley Center panel. “It’s pretty dirty!”
When panel host — and former Bachelorette — Andi Dorfman asked about the season’s most shocking moments, B.J. Britt, who plays new suitor Darius Beck, immediately responded, “A lot of shirts off.”
Some of those shirtless moments may include a burgeoning bromance with Chet (Craig Bierko) and Jeremy (Josh Kelly). “You’ll see what guys do when they think they’re doing the right thing because they’re bumbling through heartbreak or depression,” Kelly said. “They’re trying to cheer each other up, and it always ends up with someone hitting somebody else,” Bierko added with a laugh.
At the end of season one, Quinn and Rachel (Shiri Appleby) both cut ties with their former love interests — Chet and Jeremy, respectively — and can now focus more time on Everlasting…and each other.
“[Rachel and Quinn’s relationship] is really the central love story of the show,” Appleby explained. “It’s not really about Rachel and Quinn finding love with men — it’s about them being working women together.”
But that doesn’t mean their working relationship won’t be rocky. “This season, what’s been hard for us is Rachel and Quinn are at odds with each other. We’re always plotting when we’re apart,” Zimmer said. “I went to [co-creator] Sarah [Gertrude Shapiro] and said, ‘We come together in the end, right? We have to be back together!’ ”
One couple that likely won’t get back together anytime soon is Chet and Quinn. “He’s kind of out of control,” Bierko said. In between Everlasting seasons, Chet goes to a Paleolithic retreat, loses 50 pounds, and becomes a men’s rights activist. When he returns, “He wants to get his kingdom back, and he’s very much in love with Quinn.” Kelly echoed that sentiment for his character, exclaiming, “Of course he loves [Rachel]!”
Showrunner Carol Barbee said all the show’s storylines “always start with Quinn and Rachel,” but within Everlasting, things are “peopled around our black suitor for maximum crazy,” including a racist, Confederate-flag-bikini-wearing contestant confused about her feelings for Darius. Appleby added that Rachel will feel “less guilt about taking women down” because her focus is on “producing and torturing Darius.”
Even though Shapiro considered having a Bachelorette-esque season two, she ultimately felt pulled in a different direction. “What was really screaming at me was having a black bachelor,” she said. “There’s no repressing conversation in the nation right now. I thought it was an interesting thing to explore in terms of black masculinity but also really scary to do as a white woman…. In sophomore seasons of shows it’s so important to not imitate yourself and not outdo yourself. It’s not repeating what you did in season one but responding to what your characters want and need. And what Rachel needs is to have purpose.”
Britt admitted that “it’s a lot of pressure” to play the first black bachelor, because “you want to get it right,” but it’s all worth it for the payoff. “It’s a long time coming, and UnREAL is just breaking down doors and doing what should have been done years ago,” he continued. “I hope it opens more doors for diversity in the industry.”
UnREAL season two premieres Monday, June 6, at 10 p.m. on Lifetime.
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