‘UnReal’ Creators Talk Season 2’s Focus on Quinn and Rachel, Possible Spinoff

Lifetime UnREAL party
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The rowdy cast and creators of the Lifetime scripted series “UnReal” opened up about the show’s first season and where they’ll go next during a Paley Center panel on Thursday.

The panel opened up discussion of the show’s second season, which will definitely reprise “Everlasting,” the “Bachelor”-style show within the show, and could find Faith, played by Breeda Wool, in the spotlight. “We have talked a lot about a Faith spin-off,” said co-creator and executive producer Marti Noxon.

The cast and producers also addressed “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison’s recent comments that their show is “really terrible,” with Constance Zimmer noting that Harrison’s apparent hatred of the show is “completely flattering.”

In another stand-out moment, Noxon jumped in to interrupt actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman for the sake of political correctness.

“I guess I had truly no idea how dark and manipulative the world of reality television is…” Bowyer-Chapman started to answer, before Noxon interjected to amend the end of his sentence: “Can be,” she noted. “Legally, I am required to say that.”

Co-creator and supervising producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro also attended, wearing a T-shirt reminiscent of star Shiri Appleby’s in the pilot episode which read, “this is what a feminist looks like.”

“UnReal” will air its first season finale Monday, Aug. 3 on Lifetime. Read on for more highlights from the panel.

On what drives everyone to do their job:

Marti Noxon: It’s kind of also about that time in your life where you’re so afraid of leaving something that’s somewhat secure, and then I think when most of us break out of those situations, and finally make it, we go “What was that all about? Why did I feel so trapped?” But the truth is I feel like every character for one reason or another thinks that this is the place they function best, and they’re afraid to leave. And there’s a culture of fear that’s kind of indoctrinated too, a sort of, “This is where you belong.” So I feel like all of them are trying to figure out if that’s true or not, particularly Rachel (played by Appleby).

On creating Constance Zimmer’s calculating character, Quinn:

Constance Zimmer: I’d be way too terrified to have created that. There definitely were many conversations about making sure that Quinn was relatable. Not necessarily likable, because that’s not really what we cared about. It was more about being relatable, and making sure that she’s a person, and she’s really good at her job.

She might blur the lines of what’s important and not, but so do so many of us in what we do in our jobs, whatever that is. So I think that when we found that rhythm, it was definitely something that we started writing towards.

There were things I always felt needed to be there and be present, and if it ever felt like it was a little too far and I was scared of it, I thought “everybody else is going to be scared of it.” So it was fun finding this balance because I was definitely afraid of her in the beginning. I thought “How am I going to play someone I’m afraid of?”

On Quinn and Rachel’s relationship:

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro: Marti and I have always talked about how Rachel and Quinn are the primary relationship in this show. They’re the love story, they’re everything. That scene of them in bed together is really one of the most important scenes. As Marti and I are talking about our journeys as women in this industry and as creative people in this industry, these relationships like these creative relationships…

Marti Noxon: And we sleep together all the time.

On pitching the whole season at once:

Marti Noxon: One of the challenges that Lifetime and A&E set out to us was to basically go in and pitch the whole season before we started writing every script. So after some sleepless nights, I was tasked with being the talker, and I think I talked for 43 hours.

So Sarah and I and a bunch of the other writers went in and talked to a giant table of smart people, and they barely had any reaction at all. And we had a couple moments, like the suitor having sex with an investor’s wife in front of Chet and the investor. And I was waiting for them to go “[coughs] what?” And no, nothing at all.

And we got to Mary flying off the building and I was waiting for them to go “what?” and nothing. And we had a slightly darker ending planned, but cooler heads prevailed. And we got all the way to the ending and there was kind of this pregnant pause. And we had no idea. And Nancy Dubuc who had really challenged us with writing the darkest premium cable-type show that we could, leaned back and she went “I love it.” And that was that, and we were off to the races.

On season 2:

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro: We’re so excited! I can’t wait, I want to eat it like a pie. We’re sticking with “Everlasting” as a format and one thing that we’ve talked about a lot is … a really nice grounding point for us in the writer’s room has been that the starting point is always Quinn and Rachel.

So we break the story starting with Quinn and Rachel, and the “Everlasting” story, the reality stuff serves their theme. And so what we feel like is these are two women that are completely flipped out about love and marriage and career and all of those things. So “Everlasting” and the romance genre still has a lot for us to do.

And I think there will definitely be a twist, there might be some casting. We’ve talked about the race issue being one that we would love to revisit because we did just slide past it this year and it’s super important to Marti and me as well.

On hair, makeup and not being afraid to look messy:

Shiri Appleby: I just, it was 20 minutes in hair and makeup. I just gave them the pins back at the end of the day. I just felt like the character has gone around and around and looks like a mess … I don’t want it to be pretty. It’s OK if there’s flyaways. I don’t care if I have bags under my eyes. We’re just going to tell a story about what it’s like to be on set for 16 hours a day. So I’m just going to look like what it looks like to be on set for 16 hours a day.