by Julian Spivey
Lifetime’s original drama series “UnReal” has been hailed by critics as one of the best television shows of the summer and one of the best new dramas of the entire year, but the series that satirizes the reality TV genre has found one famous critic in that of “Bachelorette” host Chris Harrison.
Harrison recently told Variety: “It’s complete fiction. As much as they would love to jump on our coattails – they were begging for us to talk about it and for people to write about it – at the end of the day, no one is watching. I mean, absolutely nobody is watching that show. Why? It is terrible. It is really terrible.”
Harrison couldn’t be more wrong. Enough people have been watching “UnReal” that Lifetime renewed it for a second season a few weeks ago and the premiere drew over 800,000 viewers, which is a pretty good number for an original cable series.
Harrison just seems to be lashing out against “UnReal” because it paints an extremely unflattering and likely very realistic portrayal of reality shows, which is a format that’s turned him into a millionaire as host of ABC’s popular “The Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” series.
In “Unreal,” which airs its season one finale on Lifetime on Monday, August 3, the show satirizes reality programming in such measures as showing executive producers scripting and fixing the majority of the fictional reality series “Everlasting,” which is an obvious parody of Harrison’s “Bachelor/Bachelorette” series, where a group of single women fight for the affection and love of a bachelor. The series includes producers starting friction between contestants to lead to catfights on the air, the host (who looks similar to Harrison) sleeping with contestants of the show and the bachelor not seemingly caring about the competition, but doing it to further his own career and aspirations.
These are all things that most TV viewers with a brain realize most likely go on behind the scenes of actual reality shows like “The Bachelor,” and have known for many years. But, reality shows still thrive on viewers tuning in to see these shows thinking everything they’re viewing on television is 100 percent accurate and this is why Harrison is seemingly having a hissy fit over a fictional series pulling the curtain down that hides the puppet masters (reality TV producers).
“UnReal” has been a riveting drama throughout its first season – partially due to this revealing of behind the scenes reality TV life and simply because it’s incredibly dramatic and well-acted by a cast led by Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby.
It’s not going anywhere any time soon, so Harrison should learn to live with it and not act so obviously threatened as he does in his Variety interview.