I DEFY you to name one character on TV this summer, male or female, who has brought it quite as hard as Shiri Appleby on the new Lifetime series UnREAL. The show itself is pretty good, and deeply self-referential in a way we really respond to around here. And amidst a sea of blonde, busty babes is Appleby’s Rachael Goldberg, a character who can’t be bothered to bathe, brush her hair, or generally give a crap, yet still somehow manages to make ratchet to so, so right.
I’ve responded to this performance in a way I usually don’t. In fact, I’m almost uncomfortable with how strongly I’ve identified with Rachael. First, I need to mention that I own this exact outfit…
I’m also usually in various states of dishevelment, although I have never managed to pull it off quite like Shiri Appleby can. That’s a gift, people. To take a look that is default for most women and turn it up to ten without lifting a finger. It’s nice to see a female character that is allowed to be sexy on her own terms. I bow to her.
It’s also nice to see a woman in TV who’s admired, not because she’s pretty or charming, but because she’s good at what she does, even if that happens to be mass manipulation. Not that Rachael isn’t pretty or charming (some people just walk in the light) but the people on this show rely on her, and defer to her in a way we almost never get to see on TV. If you haven’t see UnREAL, consider this your call to action. This is the performance to watch this year, and if Appleby doesn’t bag herself an Emmy nom, then we live in a world devoid of justice.