One of the best shows to premiere this summer is UnREAL, which airs on Lifetime and is actually one of the most honest and forthcoming looks at TV production that's ever been developed. The show is so on-point that, as a fan of The Bachelorette, watching UnREAL makes Bachelorette Kaitlyn's decision easy to predict. The series is essentially the behind-the-scenes look at The Bachelorette that ABC audiences didn't even realize was possible and it should challenge any Bachelorette fan to look at the series in a new way. Sure, I'd love to believe that everything we're seeing onscreen is real, live action and romance happening before our very eyes, but UnReal, with its pointedly scripted series within the series, makes a case for questioning everything — including Kaitlyn's current journey.
I think, that what the Bachelorette audience is seeing this season is a fundamental misalignment between the producers and the contestants. At least, that's what it seems like after watching UnReal. Sure, there are some big differences between the fake show within a show and the real Bachelorette — how could there not be? While the fake show is produced at the same time that it airs, The Bachelorette wrapped production months before the first episode aired, but both series can only edit together what they've filmed. And — this might just be a hunch — but I think the story the production team was filming for most of the season was not the same story that eventually reached our screens.
Here's my big, UnReal inspired guess: they thought this season belonged to Nick Viall. He'd enter, late, in order to maximize the annoyance of the rest of the cast, but immediately win over Kaitlyn because they both had a sense of humor and audiences would be charmed by their banter. Eventually, after they felt the sparks fly, he'd win the show and the pair would get engaged on the finale. It'd have been a truly successful love story for a show that often has to really strain credulity to make us believe that the final couple really cares about one another.
And, if you're a Nick fan, I guess that must be how you interpret the season. But, I think something weird happened that production didn't expect: Kaitlyn didn't agree. I mean, she did at first, and I feel like she would have never slept with Nick if she wasn't interested in and attracted to him, but she kept playing the field and, even though it infuriated the other guys that he was there, Kaitlyn never made a commitment to Nick.
By the time UnREAL got to its seventh episode, it was relying on a bit too much drama for a single reality season. I understand why the fictional series added so many twists and turns, but Kaitlyn’s season of The Bachelorette clearly didn’t have such a high level of drama. Instead, I think the producers must have been tearing their hair out when a lot of the season wound up a little boring and disappointing. For example, during Nick's fights with Shawn, Shawn acted like the clear bad guy, and yet, because of a slipped Snapchat, it seems obvious that Shawn wins the season — regardless of whether or not that's a good thing.
Shawn winning Kaitlyn's heart is such shift from the story that the first eight weeks this season of The Bachelorette told, which was all about Kaitlyn being down to try anything — but only willing to get serious with Nick. It seems like, once again, the producers' favorite isn't the same person that the Bachelorette wants to pick. I wonder what those post-show conversations are like — but I guess I'll have to keep watching UnREAL in order to find out. Minus a little bit of its drama, UnREAL Season 1 is like looking into the control room that brought ABC this seemingly inconsistent season of Bachelorette.
Image: Clodagh Kilcoyne/ABC; Giphy (3)