Summer Review: UnREAL

I’ve been raving about UnREAL for a while now, making it my most anticipated summer TV show of 2015. You can’t believe how happy I am that it also delivered when I finally got a chance to watch it. I’m already addicted and I’ve only seen one episode so far! I don’t think there are any major Spoilers in this review, especially not if you’ve seen the promo, but decide for yourself with how much information you want to go into this.

UnREAL chronicles the shooting of a reality show called “Everlasting”, which is very much like the fictional re-imagining of “The Bachelor”. It is a behind-the-scenes-look from the producers point of view, especially freelancer Rachel, who has returned to the show after a mental breakdown (that was, like everything else, caught on camera). There are so many “unscrpited” TV shows on these days and I just don’t believe them – I love that UnREAL takes a bit of a hit at them, trying to expose the process behind “great TV”. In fact, the show is so on-point that it could just as well be a docu-series. (Although I seriously hope that real producers aren’t that ruthless!)

Here are some more specific thoughts:

  • Shiri Appleby as the lead, Rachel Goldberg, is perfect!!! She looks so honest, nice and sympathetic that you wouldn’t guess how manipulating she can be. I’m so very much looking forward to seeing her journey and if she’ll get out of this sane. I mean being hated by so many people, having to destroy people’s lives and working with your ex … that’s gotta take its toll.
  • Quinn (Constance Zimmer), the head producer who has an affair with show-creator Chet, is candid and offensive at the same time. Often you can’t believe what she’s saying but there’s always truth to her words. She knows how to do her job and she knows that she can’t make friends while doing it. I’m not quite sure how it’ll pan out that she sent the PA to do Rachel’s service hours. I hope it doesn’t backfire!
  • I haven’t quite figured out Freddie Stroma‘s character Adam yet. Is participating in a dating show really the best way to do damage control for your reputation? I don’t think that I’d invest with someone who tried to find love on a TV show, but maybe that’s just my opinion. Nonetheless, he intrigues me and I can see the sparks between him and Rachel.
  • The way all the contestants got cast for their part on the show and how the producers dug into their past is messed up. You’d like to think that that was one of the “unreal” parts of the show, but it’s at least partly how these dating formats are run. Maybe it’s not as extreme as it’s portrayed here , but it’s still freaky to think how much of it all is staged.
  • I love Arielle Kebbel and I hope she’ll make another appearance on the show!
  • The whole setting, the house, the location, the crew – it all looks so “real”. I have to hand it to the creators for that one. I’m sure someone spent a lot of time watching dating-shows for “research” purposes!
  • Just fyi: the show is inspired by Shapiro’s short Sequin Raze. Haven’t seen it, but I now very much would like to!

UnREAL is the real deal for me and required summer-viewing! I can already see myself sitting on the edge of my seat every week, anticipating what they’ll come up with next. What do you say?

The DUFF: Book vs. Trailer

In my Taylor Swift Book Tag I mentioned how much I was looking forward to reading the DUFF (=Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger and now I finally got around to it. As you may or may not know, I buy a lot of the books I read after watching the trailer for their movie adaptation and this one was no exception. All throughout the comments on YouTube people complained about how different the movie looked from the book. I thought this was just the usual annoyance that came with movie adaptations barely ever being faithful to their underlying material, but now I can tell you that the two are really nothing alike. I don’t know what the studio was thinking when they produced this film, but it has nothing to do with the story the book tried to tell.

So, basically the movie looks like a typical generic teenage RomCom – nothing wrong with that. Themes like the one from “She’s All That” and “Mean Gilrs” have been copied a million times for a simple reason: they work. I’m not one to judge them for that and quite honestly I would watch it for the simple reason that it has Robbie Amell in it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not the book.

Warning: from here on there will be Spoilers for the book (and possibly the movie)!

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger is about Bianca Piper, a cynic girl who deals with her problems by entering into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with the person she hates the most: Wesley Rush. She starts avoiding her friends and bottles up her emotions which inevitably leads to a lot of chaos. Despite what the trailer suggests, the story is a lot deeper and deals with multiple issues that not only teens are confronted with. Here are some of the major differences I’ve spotted:

  • Bianca doesn’t come to Wesley for help. She despises him and solely uses him as a means of escape, well until it turns into something else. It’s different than in the movie though. She doesn’t want to change her appearance, or herself in general, to make anyone like her and he doesn’t fall for her just because she’s slowly changing for the better, but because they have a genuine connection. Bianca knows that for the people who really care about her, she doesn’t have to pretend.
  • I have no idea who Bella Thorne is supposed to be. There is no mean girl in the story. Of course there are the obligatory bitchy cheerleaders, but not a particular mean girl who rules the school. Was that really necessary to add?
  • There is some hope in me that they will deal with the family issues of the characters in the movie, even though it doesn’t look like it from what I could tell from the trailer. But I thought it was important to have Bianca’s father’s alcoholism and her mother being away all the time as well as Wesley’s judgmental grandmother, his sweet little sister and so on in the book. The cast list doesn’t really reassure me though … we’ll see.
  • The movie makes it look like the goal of it all is to make Bianca datable for prom – she doesn’t even go to prom! Neither does she go to the Homecoming or any other school dance, because they just aren’t her thing. There better not be some big showdown at prom …
  • The Nest just doesn’t exist. Seems sad to me, since I really wanted to see Joe.
  • I suppose there will be a lot less sex in the movie. Just an educated guess.
  • I suppose the only thing that will be the same in the movie and the book is moral of the story, which means that Bianca soon discovers that everyone who has friends feels like the Duff at some point.

I hope it came across that I really don’t think the stories have anything in common. I mean not even the set up is the same. Have you read the book? Let’s talk about it!