The answers were, to the show’s credit, subtle in their manifestations. Monday’s episode of UnREAL, “Casualty,” billed itself as a Very Important One, and it was—but what ultimately distinguished the proceedings was a small, simple fact: Nobody questioned Rachel’s account of events. Nobody excused Jeremy’s participation in those events. His wrongness in the situation, in every sense of “wrong,” was assumed by all involved, Jeremy included. He was, as such, summarily fired, and effectively banned from the set of Everlasting, UnREAL’s show-within-a-show.
But the focus here was Rachel. Who went through a series of notable stages—anger, denial, acceptance—throughout the episode, and who, in her insistence that she was totally fine, revealed herself to be very much not. What was best for Rachel, all things considered? Should she seek therapy? Should she rely on medication? Should she turn Jeremy in to the police, or should Everlasting—whose producers, after all, have a murder on their hands—handle things internally?
“He can’t get away with this,” Rachel told Chet.
“He didn’t,” Chet replied. “I fired him.”
“I just don’t feel like we ever report anything around here,” Rachel said, “and I’m not just gonna be another silent woman. So I’m just gonna go to the police.”
For the moment, she has not gone to the police. She has opted instead, as Chet advised, to keep it “in the family.” (Jeremy, as Chet pointed out, knows “where the bodies are buried”; the remaining staff of Everlasting can’t risk him sharing that information with authorities.) But during an episode otherwise frenzied with all manner of over-the-top dramas (surprise pregnancies, surprise proposals, brandished shotguns), UnREAL kept its gimlet eye trained on its (anti)heroine. Quinn curtailed her own budding romance to come to Rachel’s aid. She used the word “trauma” in discussing Rachel’s experience.
In a way, that focus on Rachel—her experience, her needs, her recovery—acted as a compensation for another assault that occurred during UnREAL’s first season: the rape of the Everlasting contestant Maya by Roger, the suitor Adam’s best friend. UnREAL, summoning that narrative nebulousness that often surrounds real-world incidents of sexual violence, kept its own depiction nebulous: Both Maya and Roger had been drinking. The rape itself was not depicted; all audiences saw was Roger drunkenly coming on to Maya, Maya resisting, and a door closing. On reopening, Maya was crying.
She was, indeed, raped. As Natasha Wilson, the actress who played her, told Zap2it, “She was totally taken advantage of. Her being drunk was completely exploited.” And yet, as Wilson explained, “We wanted to make sure it wasn’t an aggressive rape situation, because we wanted to demonstrate that it can occur even when someone says no but they don’t say it like, ‘NO!’, they say, ‘No, no, I’m really not, this isn’t what I …’”