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Remote Controlled: ‘UnReal’ Creators on Season 3’s Suitress, Plus Bill Hader and Alec Berg on ‘Barry’

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety‘s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, talks first with the creators of “UnReal,” Stacy Rukeyser and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, along with castmembers Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman and Genevieve Buechner, in a panel recorded at SCAD’s aTV festival in Atlanta.

The creative team behind “UnReal” said that the idea of a female “suitress” on in-show reality competition “Everlasting” had been brewing for a long time. “We wanted to look at… the smart successful woman who’s climbing the ladder at work, but the higher up she gets, the harder it is to find a man. Why is that?” says Rukeyser. “That seemed like it would be the perfect avatar for Quinn and Rachel to project all of their issues.” Adds Shapiro of Rachel, “What do you do in the third season with this character who’s been struggling with herself since the first season, and now she thinks she’s gotten away with it?” That taps into a theme of this third season, which is co-dependence.

On what she’s learned playing Madison over the past couple of seasons, Buechner said: “That I never want to be on a reality TV show. I could never do it.” And Bowyer-Chapman, in stealing Buechner’s earlier soundbite, noted: “When producing girls, you have to bully them. When producing guys, you have to flirt with them.”

As Season 4 of “UnReal” has already been shot, Shapiro and Rukeyser teased that Bowyer-Chapman will get a boyfriend coming up and that a recent “Bachelor in Paradise” producer filing a complaint to the studio “has a little more to do with the inspiration for Season 4,” said Rukeyser.

In the second part of the podcast, Birnbaum speaks with Alec Berg and Bill Hader about the inspiration behind their new hit comedy on HBO, “Barry.”

“We got matched together by our mutual agent, and then we just went to a diner in Culver City to meet once a week and talk about ideas for a possible show,” recounts Hader. “Then I said: ‘What about a hitman?’ And Alec went: ‘Ugh.'”

Their brainstorming sessions blossomed into Hader’s hitman who wants to be an actor, striking a balance between violence and humor.

“We started finding all these interesting contrasts where if you’re a professional killer, you have to numb your emotions, whereas in order to be an actor, you have to reach out and find all of your emotions and get in touch with them,” Berg said.

But Hader warns of the struggles of getting the audience to root for Barry. “Yeah, it’s two things. They can’t work together. And him doing both things is going to….people are going to get killed.”

You can listen to this week’s podcast here:

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes here.

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