TV Plus (South Africa) - - 7 JULY -

Sea­son 2 Life­time (*131) 20:00

From clever edit­ing to make some­thing from noth­ing and pro­duc­ers who ma­nip­u­late con­tes­tants, noth­ing’s off lim­its in sea­son 2 of drama show Un­REAL (2015-cur­rent). Rachel (Shiri Ap­pleby) is the new showrun­ner of fic­tional re­al­ity show Ev­er­last­ing and sums up the premise of Un­REAL when she yells at one of her un­der­lings, “We aren’t camp coun­sel­lors. We don’t solve prob­lems, okay? We cre­ate them. And then we point cam­eras at them!”

But how many of those “prob­lems” on Un­REAL re­ally hap­pen in the world of re­al­ity dat­ing shows like The Bachelorette (2003-cur­rent; more on 7)? Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who cre­ated Un­REAL, has unique in­sider info – she used to work on The Bachelor (2002cur­rent) and re­veals that things like watch­ing con­tes­tants closely is ac­cu­rate. “We had a lot of stan­dards and prac­tices as to how to han­dle cer­tain sit­u­a­tions [on The Bachelor],” she says.

Plus, con­tes­tants do get nick­names, like “the wife” and “hot Rachel”, as seen in sea­son 2 episode 1 of Un­REAL – that’s to help eas­ily iden­tify who they’re talk­ing about. It also makes it eas­ier for the pro­duc­tion team to edit that per­son to por­tray a cer­tain char­ac­ter­is­tic bet­ter on­screen. And just like in Un­REAL, con­tes­tants are look­ing for more than just love and have hid­den agen­das. A for­mer con­tes­tant on The Bachelor, who re­mained anony­mous, said in an in­ter­view that “con­tes­tants know it’s go­ing to open so many doors”.

While pro­duc­ers do in­flu­ence con­tes­tants, out­right ma­nip­u­la­tion is a no-no. It’s edit­ing that ex­ag­ger­ates con­tes­tants flaws, says Sarah, adding that “it’s only in­flu­enc­ing peo­ple into per­form­ing how you need. It’s even just hav­ing an ear for syn­tax as peo­ple de­scribe ex­pe­ri­ences”. NB! See more on p67.

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