UnREAL s1 ep 5

*SPOILERS*

“10k off your debt if you can pop her cherry in Dixie!”

Um… Classy Quinn’s idea of trying to persuade a deeply religious contestant to lose her virginity on screen shocks even Rachel, but Faith and Adam’s “date” back in Faith’s home town presents too good a tv opportunity to pass up, whether it means risking Rachel’s own fragile sanity in the process or not. Booze, travel and an overnight trip sandwiched between ex-boyfriend Jeremy and über-crush Adam? With sex or the lack thereof on everybody’s mind?

No wonder Dr Wagnerstein’s worried.

But, apart from giving in to Jeremy-shaped temptation (girlfriend, he is horrible to you all the time, FFS let him go) Rachel actually acquits herself surprisingly well as, in finding out Faith’s secret, she also finds her own softer, kinder side and does something truly selfless and compassionate in the process. This being Unreal, however, somebody has to screw with that and it looks like our “heroine’s” tearful attempt to do the decent thing for a change is doomed to failure. Till Adam(!) surprises us by doing the selfless thing too, sacrificing his own skin to save someone else’s, and upping the shipper quotient to DEFCON 1. This may be the only show on tv where leaking news of your sex tape can somehow turn out to be heroic, but it does, and while the controversial, er, self-satisfaction scenes book-ending the episode suggest Rachel’s still got a bad case of the ex, her relationship with Adam is getting deeper and more genuine by the week. There’s nothing more handsome than a hero, eh? Squee!

All this chivalry and heart and whatnot is in danger of rendering the ep a bit too nice and cuddly, though, so it’s just as well for Unreal’s magnificently cynical world view that there’s still plenty of manipulation and nastiness going on too. Jay continues to screw everyone over to keep Chet onside. Quinn and Chet’s break-up gets even bloodier. And Shia wins the Worst Person of the Week prize for doing something so astoundingly, irredeemably vile that even the previous four episodes of people at their most loathesome didn’t prepare me for it. My God. This show. It shocks me anew every week, but I absolutely love it.

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