Trigger Warning: If you have experienced sexual violence, this article an/or this season may be a trigger for you
I just finished watching UnREAL season 4 on Hulu and I’m physically ill.
If you’ve already watched the season, you probably already know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, consider yourself warned.
The entire season builds up to a rape revenge plotline that Rachel is producing for the Everlasting. It’s Everlasting All-Stars and Maya from season one has returned. If you’ll remember, Maya got drunk only to get raped by the suitor’s best friend Roger.
So in an attempt to manufacture a moment for Maya to stand up to Roger, Rachel brings Roger back as well. By episode 4, Rachel has forced Maya to share a room with her rapist, in the hopes that it will cause a scene.
It starts out as a rape revenge fantasy for Rachel. Last season it was revealed that Rachel was sexually assaulted when she was only 14 by one of her mother’s patients. But when Rachel’s fantasy doesn’t live out on screen, she gets more and more desperate to get Maya to come out about her rape.
Eventually, Rachel comes up with a plan. She gets another contestant, Noelle, super drunk and convinces Roger to hook up with her. Noelle is pretty much unconscious and Roger is just about to rape her. Rachel is merely watching on the monitors, hoping for her moment, and doesn’t even think twice about the fact that she put a woman in jeopardy.
Moments before Roger penetrates Noelle, Maya comes rushing in to save Noelle and stabs Roger in the dick.
It’s disgusting how Rachel sets up another woman to get raped without even a thought, but unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.
In the aftermath of what happens, Rachel is forced to clean up her mess. She edits the footage together to make Maya seem like a psycho, not a PTSD-suffering rape victim. She convinces Noelle to lie about what happens to her. And she lets Maya rot in jail for assault.
I’m guessing the UnREAL team was inspired by what happened on Bachelor in Paradise last season. Before the show went to air, news broke that Corinne was sexually assaulted while drunk and that the show was basically pouring alcohol down the contestants’ throats.
I’m sure that this storyline on UnREAL is rooted in some sort of truth — I believe that producers on The Bachelor franchise don’t look out for their contestants like they should. And I realize that UnREAL‘s writers and producers were attempting to make some sort of commentary on societal and sexual assault. But what happens on UnREAL this season is so far removed from the truth that whatever message they were trying to portray gets lost. The whole show just takes it way too far.
There’s a way for scripted television to handle rape and sexual assault and this was just not it. The show doesn’t make things right until (spoiler) the very last moments of the season finale. And by then, you just feel so sick to your stomach that it’s not enough.
What upsets me the most is thinking about just how many people had to sign off on season 4 of UnREAL. It wasn’t just the writers who came up with this unbelievably disturbing material. There were producers, Hulu execs, and more who watched it and said “yes.”
It’s unfortunate that the show has to go out this way. They clearly wanted to go out with a bang. I love Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby — they’re both beyond talented. I just hate that I have to remember them this way on UnREAL.
At the very end of the finale, Rachel and Quinn have reunited and you quickly find out that Rachel has burned the Everlasting house to the ground — literally. But that hasn’t solved anything. They haven’t solved the solution of society’s warped views on women, marriage, and gender. And I’m sure if Everlasting were real, the execs would already be scouting a new location as we speak.
Have something to add? Tweet us @femestella.