Good news for fans of Everlasting: Lifetime has renewed UnREAL for a 10-episode second season.
“We couldn’t be more proud to bring back UnREAL,” said Liz Gateley, executive vice president and head of programming for Lifetime. “With authentically flawed characters, sharp storytelling and impeccable performances, this show is propelling our brand in a truly exciting direction – an unexpected and bolder Lifetime. We are thrilled to continue our work with Marti [Noxon] and Sarah [Gertrude Shapiro] and the incredible A+E Studios team, as we together bring a new generation of viewers to Lifetime.”
UnREAL has become a critical smash during its first season, and according to the network has averaged more than 4.8 million viewers across all its available platforms. The show stars Shiri Appleby as a producer on Everlasting, a reality dating program not unlike The Bachelor. Constance Zimmer plays the show within a show’s no-nonsense executive producer, with Craig Bierko (as the Everlasting creator) and Freddie Stroma (as the Everlasting suitor) in supporting roles. Shapiro had a day job on The Bachelor and turned her experiences into both a short film, called Sequin Raze, and UnREAL.
“The reality of how reality shows are made, a lot of that is based on anecdotal stories from people we know,” Noxon told EW. “After the show’s debut, people got in touch with us and were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you guys got it right,’ which is chilling if you think about it. It’s kind of an open secret that although the shows aren’t scripted, a producer’s job is to get contestants to adhere to a role or a task. As the season goes on, we definitely push that envelope for maximum drama. We’re stretching the truth as we’ve heard it or as we understand it.
UnREAL airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
Although Arielle Kebbel played the token “bitch” contestant on – and first booted off – UnREAL’s faux dating show, she didn’t draw from suitors of Bachelors past.
Kebbel, 30, hasn’t watched the ABC juggernaut – not for a lack of trying.
“My girlfriend, she has like 20 girls over every week and they do food, they do the whole thing. I wanted to be social, and I told myself I would do it and I even brought brownies,” she told PEOPLE at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, on Saturday night. “I literally was like, ‘I have to get out of here, I’m going to throw up. I can’t do it.’ So as much as I love my girlfriends, it’s not for me.”
That’s exactly why she loves UnREAL.
“I really hope that it starts posing questions in people’s mind of where do they draw the line on these reality shows, what is real, what’s not, what are they putting them through and is it healthy?” she added.
Kebbel next stars opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on HBO’s Ballers. Her time on Lifetime’s dark comedy was short, but her part perfectly skewered the genre’s simplification and even exploitation of complicated women like her character, Britney.
Originally, Kebbel read for Shiri Appleby’s lead role of Rachel, a reality producer who suffered a mental breakdown.
“When I went in the room, it was a room full of women, and that was such a powerful moment for me number one, because I hate to say it, but that doesn’t happen to me every day that I walk into an audition room,” she sad of her audition. “So already I was like, ‘I want to work with these people, yeah!’ I remember leaving going, ‘I don’t think I’m right for that part, but man, I really want to work on this somehow.’ And sometimes God just aligns things in a way that is not explainable, it just happens, and that’s when you know it’s right.
“I got a phone call probably six months later saying, ‘You didn’t get that part, but they’re offering you this one, are you open to it?’ And without hesitation I was like, ‘Absolutely, I’m gonna bring my best villain!’ ”