Fans of Lifetime’s original movies are in for a shock if they tune in to the channel’s new series “UnREAL”. The scripted show replaces the expected melodrama and gushy romance with biting social commentary and mature cynicism. “UnREAL”, which parodies the reality TV genre (“The Bachelor”, to be specific), follows the manipulative employees that work behind the scenes of the fictional show “Everlasting”.
Josh Kelly, the man behind one of these employees, cameraman Jeremy, spoke with Blast about the nature of “UnREAL”, what shocked him the most about the show and his side hobbies.
Blast: Tell me how you got involved with “UnREAL”.
Kelly: I’m pretty lazy with auditioning. I had just done a movie where I broke my shoulder and I realized that I really needed to work quickly because I might need surgery soon, so I should probably try and, like, book a gig. I ended up not needing surgery but I think the impetus behind me actually studying and going on auditions was a broken shoulder.
Blast: Of the many twists and boundary-pushing moments that have been shocking audiences, what has shocked you the most this season that they’ve done?
Kelly: You see these scenes and you’re like, “Oh man, I did not know they’d go there!” My character Jeremy is pretty much there on all of the scenes that take place during “Everlasting,” so none of those have surprised me because I’ve been there just standing there with a steady cam. But the Chet and Quinn scenes, really. There are a couple time where I’ve been like, “You go, Lifetime! You go!” I’m very proud.
Blast: The show is hard to pin down. It’s based on this light-hearted reality TV and it’s also very mature and dark. How would you describe it to a potential viewer?
Kelly: I guess if I were trying to sell it, I would say if you know someone who watches reality TV, or if you watch reality TV, or you hate that your friend watches reality TV or you love that your friend watches reality TV, you watch the show so you guys can talk about something.
Blast: Jeremy seems to be one of the few “Everlasting” employees with a conscience, but he’s also very unfaithful to Lizzie. Do you think he’s a good guy and how do you approach that side of him?
Kelly: I think he’s a good guy, but, I mean, people are just people. He’s in a different situation. He has a simpler job. The other people are manipulating people; he’s manipulating cameras. It’s a simpler life for him. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t do the bad things. He just hasn’t been put in those situations. Or he hasn’t put himself in those situations.
Blast: Would you be interested to see him in a situation like that?
Kelly: I think he probably has to be put in situations like that eventually. As you grow, your life gets more complicated.
Blast: So last episode we saw him leaving Lizzie. Do you think he actually ever loved Lizzie or was she always a Rachel stand-in?
Kelly: For sure. I mean, people love people in different ways. Yah, he definitely loves Lizzie. I think he though Rachel was gone for good out of his life and without Rachel, he wouldn’t have had to worry because he would be totally happy with Lizzie. But Rachel coming back into his life changed everything for him.
Blast: And in terms of Rachel, do you think he loves her or do you think it’s a wild woman fantasy for him?
Kelly: I think it’s a combo of both. He is afraid now because she hurt him, cause he kept trying to get in touch with her when she disappeared and she never came back until she came back to the show.
Blast: We had last week’s episode ending with Jeremy being stood up by Rachel (who instead spent the night with Adam, played by Freddie Stroma.) What’s going through his head right now?
Kelly: I don’t think he suspects anything completely. He doesn’t think she would hook up with that douchebag. (Laughs) I have Freddie Stroma sitting right next to me. We just finished up golf. That’s why it’s funny. I’m trying to, like, throw in some subversive comments about Adam.
Blast: With this love triangle, do you think Jeremy’s the right one for her?
Kelly: Oh yah, for sure. Why would she ever be with that, that little slimy prick? (Stroma laughs.) I think he’s a better fit for her, like he would ground her more, but he still cares about being creative and pursuing dreams. I think Adam is just falling into the trance of Rachel.
Blast: Outside of the show, what are your projects and plans right now?
Kelly: I’m gonna golf with Freddie Stroma as often as possible! I’m just gonna write, relax, wait for season 2. See what project pop up. I’ve been studying magic.
Kelly: Yah, I’m trying to catch up with Freddie. He got to go to Hogwarts (Stroma is British), and I didn’t, so I’m studying at the Magic Castle now but, you know, it’s not as mystifying.
Blast: Is there anything else you like to do for fun?
Kelly: I like to hang out with buddies, do fun things, take my girlfriend out on dates and watch movies. I’m getting my pilot’s license. Something I always wanted to do when I was a kid, so I’m doing it.
Blast: Is there anything you want fans to know about you or your time on the show?
Kelly: It really was an incredible experience. Everyone became really good friends and it was a really great collaboration of creativity. I think it shows in the show.
A new episode of “UnREAL” airs tomorrow, Monday 7/27, at 10 EST on Lifetime.