Obsessed with Bachelor-Esque Drama 'UnREAL'? Watch the Short Film That Inspired the Series

Before all your coworkers were exclaiming, "Have you seen Stranger Things? OMG, you have to watch it!", chances are they were saying the same thing about UnREAL, a Lifetime drama (hey, don't judge!) that takes viewers behind the scenes of a Bachelor-esque dating show called Everlasting.

The similarities to the uber popular franchise aren't accidental; co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro worked as a producer on The Bachelor for several years. Shapiro says that her job was essentially to get contestants to "open up, and to give them terrible advice, and to deprive them of sleep." The day-in-day-out manipulation eventually took a toll. Shapiro begged to be let out of her contract or else: "I'll kill myself if I stay."

Thankfully, it didn't come to that. Shapiro was let go and immediately moved to Portland for a quieter life. But she couldn't stay away from the entertainment biz for long. After a few years in advertising, she created a short film called Sequin Raze, which chronicles a producer as she tries to "crack" a dating show contestant and make her cry.

It wasn't long before Shapiro was in front of a Lifetime executive with this pitch to turn the short into a series: “A feminist working on The Bachelor has a nervous breakdown.” The network loved the idea. Two seasons, a Critics’ Choice Award and a Peabody Award later, everyone else does too. And it all started from this one short, which you can watch in full, thanks to our colleagues Film School Shorts!

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If you haven't watched all 20 episodes of UnREAL yet, go do that now! If you've been there, done that, watch this other short that was adapted into my favorite feminist vampire movie of all time!

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Film School Shorts airs on KQED 9 every Friday, beginning September 9 at 8:30PM with an encore broadcast Sundays at 11:30PM.

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