When tallying up TV characters with truly awful luck, Rachel of UnREAL has to come out near the top. Rachel’s latest attempts to wrestle control from the reality empire that Quinn built failed horribly. Rachel’s talk with the head of network not only didn’t give Rachel control of Everlasting, it gave Rachel a whole new boss. A boss who is young, attractive and incredibly charming.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you that Rachel and UnREAL’s newest addition, Coleman, have a romantic future, pretty much every interview Shiri Appleby has given for season 2 confirms it. One interview with Entertainment Weekly even compares Coleman’s romantic prospects directly with Adam and Jeremy, Rachel’s two other on-screen love interests. It’s clear what road UnREAL is heading down in season 2 with Coleman and Rachel but it might be more trouble than is it dramatically worth.
Better than Before
I mentioned before that of UnREAL’s fantastic first season, my least favorite part was the romance between Rachel and Adam. It felt too conventional for a show that was anything but and it didn’t help that Adam was only really interesting because he was pitted against Jeremy. You don’t need to look like Freddie Stroma to be more appealing than the bland and awful Jeremy.
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To UnREAL’s credit they managed to tie up the love triangle between Adam, Jeremy and Rachel in a way that was shocking but still felt in line with the show. Once was enough, however. It is odd that UnREAL is diving right back into romance pool so early in season 2.
It is hopeful that already in one scene, Coleman is more interesting than Adam and Jeremy combined. Coleman immediately gives off an air of intelligence and confidence. He is obviously Rachel’s idealized version of herself, albeit in a male form. Coleman has the job that Rachel wants, he has the acclaim that Rachel wants and presumably doesn’t have a harpy of a mother “worrying” about his mental health. The reasons for Rachel’s attraction to Coleman are manifold.
To go back to that Entertainment Weekly interview, Shiri Appleby described Coleman this way: “If Adam was the fairy tale version of the life that Rachel could’ve had, and Jeremy was like the safe life that Rachel could have… Coleman sort of feels like, wait, this could actually be the guy.”
All of this does sound interesting and promising. In fact, given UnREAL’s usual storytelling protocol the “perfectness” of Coleman will more than likely eventually be corrupted and twisted proving he is far from “the guy” for Rachel. The problem with the romance and Coleman in general is he just seems needless. Coleman’s grand purpose is that he stands in the way of UnREAL’s most interesting and important relationship, Rachel and Quinn.
It’s hard to describe anyone or anything as the heart of UnREAL. The show is so twisted and dark it just doesn’t seem right to ascribe anything as wholesome and life-giving as a heart to it. In a way, though, that is why Rachel and Quinn’s relationship is the heart of UnREAL. Their relationship is so tangled, messy and full of layers upon complicated layers that it is the perfect example of the real message behind UnREAL.
Rachel and Quinn’s relationship is a romance without the sex, it’s a relationship between a mentor and mentee and it’s a story of two best friends. There are so many TV conventions that can be applied to Rachel and Quinn and it’s one of the reasons they are so compelling. (Another reason being that Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer knock it out of the park every single second they are on screen together.)
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Every moment that UnREAL doesn’t spend on Rachel and Quinn in some way feels like a moment wasted. It’s not that there aren’t other characters on UnREAL and that they aren’t characters worth exploring. It just feels that if Rachel or Quinn are on-screen, it all goes back to their relationship together, even if they’re interacting with other characters. With Rachel in particular, even the smallest season 2 scenes show what Rachel has learned from Quinn and how she is putting it into practice. Jay’s only (seeming) purpose as a character is to show up and remind Rachel how dangerously close she is to becoming Quinn 2.0.
This is the frustrating aspect of Coleman — he doesn’t factor into the Rachel and Quinn dynamic in a long-lasting way. If we see Rachel and Quinn as a will-they-won’t-they type of relationship, and UnREAL certainly presents them that way, Coleman exists to be the new love interest that keeps the main couple apart. There is no real sense that Coleman’s character will go beyond this season, just like there was no sense that Adam was going to a be permanent fixture on the show. Coleman’s days on UnREAL are likely just numbered as Darius’ as the suitor.
He’s too much of disturbance and too much of an obstacle to take any future romance between Rachel and him seriously. Coleman superseding Rachel (and Quinn’s) authority on Everlasting is a conflict that is not sustainable for more than a season. In other words there is no real reason to invest in Coleman. Maybe Coleman will become the Chet to Rachel’s Quinn but it doesn’t seem likely. Like Adam before him, Coleman will be gone before we even really get to know him. As charming as he seems, that’s the real reason why Coleman and his romance with Rachel is not necessary — neither will last.
But what do you think? Does UnREAL season 2 need Coleman? Do you think Rachel and Quinn are the best part of the show? How do you think Coleman will affect Rachel and/or Quinn in the long term?
UnREAL season 2 airs Mondays at 10pm on Lifetime.
(Images courtesy of Lifetime)