UnREAL – A
Add Shiri Appleby to what I like to call the Nick Offerman List — the short list of actors like Offerman and Tatiana Maslany who better get nominated for all the awards, but will likely get overlooked for mediocrity (aside — Rachel Bloom did win a Golden Globe, so there’s hope). Before the first commercial break on the second season of UnREAL, Rachel’s (Appleby) mood changes over ten times as she gets empowerment tattooed with Quinn, begins to let self-doubt creep in, feels regret when she sends a call from last year’s suitor/love interest to voicemail, rides to manic (and literal coke-fueled) highs at a gender-flipped Ballers-style party, crashes, re-ups her manic quotient on a network conference call, all while intermittently questioning every decision she’s made in her life and regretting all those whose lives she’s upended in her wake. She excels in a sociopathic universe, but without the lack of empathy. She’s weighted by a wounded-but-not-destroyed moral compass — one she tries to suppress, but one that will clearly destroy her eventually if she doesn’t escape this world.
However, for now she’s flush as showrunner of Everlasting, and even believes she has some righteousness at her back for breaking the color barrier in the insanely racist world of reality television dating. Her frank (well frank-ish) discussion with the new bachelor, African-american quarterback Darius Hill, is classic Rachel as she flirts, cajoles, and leverages her own neurotic history to ensure he is all-in to create great television with her. However, there are moments in the conversation where her artifice clearly fumbles and fails, and you can see she truly does not want to hurt him — unless she has to, and as long as she is one with the Everlasting universe, she will have to. Between Rachel’s power-dance/friendship with mentor-boss Quinn, her struggles with jilted lovers (Jeremy may have earned his anger with Rachel, but he deserved to be fired multiple times), and a new cast of bachelorettes to manipulate — topped by a confederate flag bikini wearer rooming with an African-american debutante — this sets up a thrillingly hopeful season two of the soap opera about reality television, that has proven itself simply one of the best, most effective dramas on the small screen. And I haven’t even mentioned the return of Chet, skinnier and bathed in some brand of Real Men[TM] retreat nonsense, as he maneuvers to take the show back from Quinn — and seemingly back into the Stone Age.
– Jason Thurston
Angie Tribeca – B+
One of the most ridiculous (and ludicrously funny) shows returns with a double-shot which expands the satirical playing field to the darker side of serial police procedurals. While it will never be Shakespearian, it does often rise near the level of Police Squad-ian, which is truly funny, indeed. And the addition of random characters like Neighbor Who Insinuates the Obvious and Sex And The City Styled Activist, along with ongoing plot tropes like Tribeca’s absurd descent into drug abuse (think Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! x1000) and Giles & Scholls conveniently inconvenient relationship that is destined to give way to Triles, and it’s clear Angie Tribeca will remain one of the most inspired silly shows on television.
– Jason Thurston