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This Show is UnREAL

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Once again I will review a show that actually premiered almost a year ago. Luckily, in this day and age, I am not the only one who forgoes high cable prices to wait until a show is available by other means.

Today, I bring you UnREAL. My Entertainment Weekly magazine kept talking about this show and it really peaked my curiosity. A scripted drama about both a reality dating show and the shocking events that happen behind the scenes? That sounds pretty good but throw in Shiri Appleby  and Constance Zimmer and I had to add it to my “To Watch” list. You know, the one I keep in my head because if I wrote it down I would lose the paper and I just don’t seem to have 60 seconds to enter it into my Google Keep.

So when I saw that season one of UnREAL was available on Hulu, I decided it was time for my free trail. I timed it out with the purchase of my new phone (with bigger screen and faster service) and the new month on my high speed data.

And, wow. Ignoring all my household duties, I binged all ten episodes in three days. It is TV so good that it sucks your life away and makes it so that you don’t want to eat or sleep or ever do laundry again. But hey, who cares about laundry anyway. Usually I like shows that are predictable and this wasn’t. That made my head hurt, but made for a very engrossing experience.

Rachel and Adam during a heated moment.

Rachel and Adam during a heated moment.

The reality show within UnREAL is known as “Everlasting.” The bachelor all the women are competing for is a Prince Harry wannabe British manwhore. We learn quickly that all the reality contestants are actually manipulated by the producers to produce the most ratings-worthy television. Sometimes it works out in the network’s favor, and sometimes it backfires. There is even a death of one of the contestants.

I am familiar with Shiri Appleby from Roswell and then Life Unexpected. I liked her well enough on those shows, but she didn’t have much to do on those series but be the damsel in distress or the bitch, respectively. On UnREAL, she gets to stretch her acting chops and I was really impressed with her. The fact that Constance Zimmer can rock any scene she wants to is no surprise to me. I have been a fan of hers since she was on a little sitcom no one but me remembers called Good Morning, Miami. Man, I could write a whole blog post just about that forgotten show. It had a great cast: Zimmer, Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains), Ashley Williams (How I Met Your Mother), Matt Letscher, Jere Burns, Suzanne Plashette. Zimmer played Penny. She had ALL the best lines. I was totally sucked into a story line where eccentric Penny had eyes for uptight good guy Jake, played by Feuerstein. Not to mention my love of the theme song, “Once in a Lifetime,”sung by Goo-Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznik.

[Thank you Universe for providing TV junkies with a way to revisit their old lost shows. Why does the show American Dreamer jump into my brain now? Shout-outs to Robert Urich, Carol Kane, and Johnny Galecki. You have all gone to better places now.]

Sorry, I was off on another of my blog tangents that makes each post take hours to write.

LOVE the homeless look!

LOVE the homeless look!

Usually when I like a show intensely, I like to dress like the characters. I had random mini braids in my hair when I was in college inspired by Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life. I still haven’t stopped mis-matching my socks like Punky Brewster. But I didn’t have to do that with UnREAL. Rachel actually dresses like me! Which, being that she is such a hot mess and the other characters tell her she looks like a homeless person (which she is, sleeping in the back of the electrical truck), I guess I shouldn’t be happy about. But, I think of myself as dressing like a homeless person most days, so I am on point.  Rachel wears a green cargo jacket over a hoodie, with her hair in a messy ponytail. She stomps around the set with walkie talkie hanging off her ass. I have loved both jobs I have had where I got to play with a “radio” as is the accepted lingo, apparently.

That is another thing I like about this show. I have not-so-secretly always wanted to be a writer for television. Here, I get to see the behind the scenes with the cameras, sets, and what-have-you.  I know I wrote before about Outlander. While the time-travel and romance appealed to me, I could never picture myself IN that show. I don’t want to live in the old-timey days. I could actually picture myself as Rachel, clomping around on the set and eating from the craft services table.

As crazy as “Everlasting” is, the behind the scenes is way crazier. I like Rachel being a hot mess. When we first meet her, we learn that she had a major meltdown on the set the previous year, even destroying sets and stealing a car. She is back, but not trying to rehab her career, she is just trying to make it through each day without losing it and without a drink, which she mostly fails at. But the writers let her make a recovery of sorts so that proposed career opportunities would seem realistic.

You are never sure who is lying. Actually, they all are at some point. I alternately loved and hated the characters: the same characters, depending on that they were up to that week. UnREAL even weaved its way into my dreams; that is a mark of great television. Oh, and I forgot to mention that there is swearing and sex as well. I love those. During the season I changed teams on what man I thought Rachel should end up with. Season one was pretty perfect. I think the creators of UnREAL have only set themselves up for a second season slump. But I will eagerly check it out when I can and hope they prove me wrong.

For those of you with real cable, you can check out new episodes of UnREAL on June 6th at 10pm. That’s on Lifetime.

Lifetime, you say?

Yes, I saved that for last. I didn’t want you to get preconceived notions about it based on its network. The network known for cheesy woman-centric movies has really stepped out of their comfort zone with this show. UnREAL has strong woman kicking some ass in a plot that won’t bore you into taking a Sunday afternoon nap.

Sidenote: After watching all ten eps of UnREAL, plus some of The Goldbergs and Nashville, I have toasted all of my high speed service on my phone for this month…in just three days. But, I still want to catch up on The Goldbergs and Nashville. I may just have to keep Hulu for another month, paid. There trick worked, Goddammit.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

My New Favorite Movie

I found my new favorite movie on Netflix the other day. It is called “Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story.

Lifetime's "Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story"

Lifetime’s “Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story”

I will say right off the bat that this is an unauthorized biography. So all the facts are probably not 100 percent true. They may have had to make up situations to string together actual events. It comes across in some spots as cheesy and sugar-coated. And it is a Lifetime movie, so there is the requisite woman getting knocked around scene.

But the end result is like a Cinderella story for aspiring writers.

At the end of the movie, we are given the info “In three years, J.K. Rowling went from being a welfare mother to one of the richest women in Great Britain.”

That just astonishes me.

MAGIC BEYOND WORDS-Rowling Quote

The movie is loaded with suppositions about where Jo Rowling may have gotten her inspirations for Harry Potter. Her best friend in high school is a boy with red hair that she labels “weasley”, whose car looks like someday movie magic might make it fly. Jo’s school teachers bear more than a passing resemblance to Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape.

Weasley look-alike and young Jo with awesome hair and eye makeup

Weasley look-alike and young Jo with awesome hair and eye makeup

I was surprised at all the money Lifetime put into the movie. There were several special effects shots to illustrate Rowling’s creative process. There was everything from a symmetrical building turning into Gringotts bank to chess pieces engaging in physical battle with one another to candles floating above her head as she pecked away on her ancient typewriter.

The movie shows the joy as Rowling receives her first book advance check. She is seen buying her toddler daughter a giant teddy bear. And maybe, just maybe, that would be the first purchase. But I bet a close second was the purchase of a computer. That would make working on her follow-up book immensely easier.

The movie portrays Rowling as always wanting to be a writer, but she was influenced (mostly by her parents) to have a practical career. Then her writing suffered, never more than just a hobby. When she put all her concentration into it, that is when she became successful. I can highly relate to that.

If you only think of your writing as a hobby, that is all it will ever be. And if you are convinced that you need a practical career and writing isn’t it, then writing will never be your career.

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