So what’s the big deal with ‘UnReal?’

Question: I finally had to see what all the hubbub was about, so I bought the first season of UnReal on DVD and binge-watched it. Pretty dark and an OK show, but it wasn’t the end-all, be-all of TV shows that I expected it to be from all the hype. The second season is revolting; I’ve deleted it from my DVR. Wish I could delete it from my memory. I feel like every time I watched it I needed to take a shower. Please explain to me what I’m not getting since everyone else seems to be enamored. —Marlene

Matt Roush: We’ve addressed the problems with the second season, and I can see where the sordidness of many of the storylines can be overwhelming, but this dismissal of the first season seems too easy. Consider how UnReal came out of nowhere, on a channel not exactly known for subversive drama, and the way it took a hot-button issue like reality-show fakery and dramatized it with such gusto, anchored by the outstanding performances of Constance Zimmer (as exec producer Quinn) and Shiri Appleby (as producer Rachel). It more than deserved its acclaim, its Peabody and AFI awards, its Emmy and other awards nominations (and Critics Choice win for Zimmer). For the first season, anyway. This was the very definition of a critical breakthrough show, and if it’s having growing pains in Year 2, it’s fascinating even in its failures.