Rachel Put Her Dad Into Treatment On ‘UnREAL’ & It’s The First Adult Decision She’s Made
Spoilers for the April 2 episode. Is Rachel finally getting soft? Or is she just finally growing up and letting her walls down? Over the course of two-and-then-some seasons of UnREAL, Rachel Goldberg has turned from sideshow act to producer queen to persona non grata to doting daughter to hateful shrew to murderer — all, sometimes, in the course of a single day. At work, Rachel follows the Quinn model – she’s unyielding, she’s cold, and she’ll do anything to get the shot she needs to get. But at home? Well, that’s a little more complicated, because Rachel is helping her dad, Asa, in ways in which he could never help her — and ways in which she could never help herself.
It was easy to see Rachel as a product of Quinn's influence in the beginning, but now, after knowing her for multiple seasons, the audience knows that Rachel started her career already carrying a great deal of damage. Her mother, Olive, is a therapist who saw patients in her home, and after Rachel was raped by one of Olive’s patients, her mother began medicating her to keep her quiet. She also began medicating her husband after he learned of his daughter's violation, making him take lithium until he was so numb that he had no feelings at all. And that’s where the crux of Rachel’s present stands — she became so obsessed with the man who raped her that she tracked him down, and when she did, she found out that Asa actually beat up her rapist. But Rachel’s mother made sure it was all kept a secret from her daughter. Rachel didn't know the truth about Asa, and it affected their relationship. Rachel assumed her parents didn’t care about what happened to her. But Asa preferred to be numb than to fully take in that he couldn’t protect his daughter in their own home.
Now, Rachel has taken her father, and she’s detoxing him. And lithium is a hell of a drug. Rachel doesn’t think things through, and she’s all, “My dad can live in my van with me while his body works through its severe dependency!” According to Dr. Simon, the withdrawal symptoms of lithium detox include tremors, mood swings, depression, suicidal thoughts, sweating, and mania. It’s not something you can do while living in a truck. Rachel’s own detox was rough, but her “it’s no big deal!” attitude is what’s driving her to think that she can have her dad work through his own issues without a problem. But Rachel wasn’t on the same sort of drugs that her father is now, and she doesn’t realize the true consequences from the beginning. Asa walks in on Serena in the shower (he was just looking for a bathroom), and it’s the switch that flips to make Rachel see that she really can’t do this on her own. The most important thing she can do to help her dad is to get him the help he needs. So instead of putting a down payment on a cabin that she loves, Rachel spends her money on sending Asa to a facility recommended by Dr. Simon.
Until now, Rachel’s actions have always been reactive to some degree. She doesn’t want to give in to her mother’s diagnoses, so she insists she’s not mentally ill and that she doesn’t need therapy and that everything is fine. Quinn knows having an emotionally volatile producer is good for business, so she keeps her around. Then, Rachel does something unstable, and the carousel goes around and around and around.
Rachel doesn’t like to ask for help because she doesn’t like needing people or seeming weak. But this — Rachel sacrificing something she wanted for the sake of her father — this is the first unselfish thing Rachel’s done in a long time. Dr. Simon told Rachel in the beginning of Season 3 that her new “honesty all the time” policy sounded mostly like deflection and blame, and maybe Rachel’s now taking that to heart. Rachel did the right thing in removing Asa from Olive’s clutches, but now, Rachel must pass the baton. She is starting to understand that there are certain things that a person can’t overcome on their own, and her love for her dad is making that clear to her.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.