The creators of Lifetime’s scripted series UnREAL didn’t want the show to strictly make fun of the reality genre.
“It’s a character drama and it just happens to be set in that world,” said Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, cocreator and supervising producer, during the show’s panel at the 2015 TCA Winter Press Tour Friday.
UnREAL follows the off-camera crew of a dating competition show, which resembles The Bachelor.
Cocreator and executive producer Marti Noxon was quick to say, though, that the format they modeled UnREAL after is not singular to The Bachelor.
“It’s just a sort of generic over-the-top roses and candles,” said Noxon, citing The Swan and similar series.
The concept was originally presented as a short film at SXSW. But Shapiro, who early on in her career worked on the set of The Bachelor and other reality shows, said she knew she wanted to turn the short into a series.
“It was such a great world to set a fictional story in because it’s rife with all the themes that I am really passionate about,” she said, referring later to the genre as “a bastion of moral quandary.”
Other highlights from the panel included:
—The characters in the show constantly struggle with their world, particularly Rachel Goldberg (played by Shiri Appleby). Appleby explained that her character is trying to find herself and is grappling morally with her job.
—Constance Zimmer, who takes on the role of “ultimate realist” Quinn King, spoke to the authenticity of the characters. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
—Shapiro opened up about why she thinks the film appeals to everyone, saying the series is relatable to anyone who has had a job. It addresses the questions “How do you stay yourself and respect your morals as you become an adult?” Zimmer added later in the panel: “Everyone will relate to someone in this show.”