If you missed the first season of Lifetime’s breakout hit UnREAL last summer, Feb. 3 is your day. Hulu will begin streaming the critically acclaimed dramedy — about the brutal behind-the-scenes of reality dating programs — which stars Constance Zimmer, Shiri Appleby and Craig Bierko.
And if you’re already a fan, here are some things to know about the show’s Season 2, which premieres summer 2016:
• Everlasting is back, this time with an African-American prince charming (take THAT, The Bachelor).
The new suitor is a football star named Darius Beck — no casting announcements thus far — who arrives on set with his street smart cousin Romeo. Co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, whose well-received short Sequin Raze gave rise to the series, told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that she and fellow creator Marti Noxon felt ready to further explore the idea of race in reality — and television in general.
“My day jobs have included reality TV, advertising and fashion, and I’ve heard, in those day jobs really, really appalling things about race all the time,” said Shapiro, a former Bachelor employee. “And the way they’re uttered — they come out of producers’ and executives’ mouths, mine included. I mean, sometimes it’s just incredibly pragmatic decisions, like, ‘We will isolate this demographic. That’s no way we can do it.’ … The writers’ room has been super intense so far, in a great way. I feel like I am thinking about race differently than I was four weeks ago, because of the conversations we’ve been having — and they can be incredibly uncomfortable. But that is what our show is about is just being incredibly uncomfortable all the time.”
• Jeremy is back, too — and he’s not a happy fellow.
“They took this very sweet good guy and just wrecked him,” said executive producer Carol Barbee, “so he’s coming back pretty angry and gunning for Rachel. He’s still on the show, because they can’t fire him after everything that went down last year, so she’s stuck coming to work every day with him there.
• Meet a few of your man-seekers.
According to Lifetime, here are some of the ladies competing for Darius’ heart: “Yael, a gorgeous upscale hipster; Tiffany, a daddy’s girl and football player’s dream; Ruby, a shrewd contestant, not at all interested in being a puppet for the producers; Bethann, an Alabama born and bred patriotic girl; and Chantal, a prim and proper southern debutante.”
• Chet goes in search of manly enlightenment.
“There’s a big change for the character, Chet, who has gone on a Paleolithic lifestyle retreat and found his inner man. He’s out hunting buffalo and things,” says Shapiro.
• The writers room did, too.
“The first season was really about the princess fantasy and this idea that, like, we’re all intoxicated by the idea that one guy can show up and change your life and show up on a helicopter and you never have to go to work again.,” said Shapiro. “So the princess fantasy was kinda Season 1. And Marti and I sort of came together, and what we’re both incredibly interested in talking about in Season 2 was masculinity and how does the men’s right movement intersect with feminism because, look, we’re both feminists. This is a very female centric show. We could, again, sort of rest on our laurels and keep talking about feminism.”
Shapiro said that Rachel will be “easily commandeered into easily commandeered into this sort of antifeminist men’s movement thing” which further enrages a disillusioned Jeremy. “That was a fun transition for us, because we had a thing where Jeremy was always Rachel’s conscience.”
Constance Zimmer, who plays Everlasting’s ball-buster producer, says she appreciates the explore
“There’s so many more women in roles that men had, so there are now men that are having to be beat out for the same job by a woman,” Zimmer said, “and it’s interesting to address that nobody has really addressed what is that doing to masculinity or to men in general in a household, in a workplace and whatever. … So I think it’s interesting that not only are we going to be addressing race, but we’re also just addressing male and female [roles] — and not just being ‘we’re feminist.’
• Noxon and Shapiro say UnREAL hasn’t changed the reality industry … but it may be changing the fans.
While Noxon admits “We haven’t had any converts. We haven’t had anybody be like, ‘I see the light! I’m quitting!’ in the reality TV ranks [though some have admitted the show nails it], UnREAL‘s cast and crew have heard from fans who say they watch reality series with a more critical eye. Zimmer says that’s “that’s just the hugest compliment ever.”
UnREAL Season 2 premieres June 6 at 9/8CT on Lifetime.