"Unscripted" was shot periodically throughout 2004 aired on HBO in early 2005, featuring snapshots of life-everything from the mundane to the comic relief-- life of its three actors (Krista Allen, Bryan Greenberg, and Jennifer Hall.
The first five episodes of "Unscripted" were directed by George Clooney, and this part of the series more closely mirrors reality, while the last five are directed by Grant Heslov and have more of a narrative flow. The last five episode feel aware of themselves; they make a conscious effort to tell a story from start to finish and not just follow around three separate individuals. However, instances here are created and therefore feel fictional and almost forced. HBO audiences, although thought of as smarter than your average sitcom audience, still had trouble figuring out which parts of "Unscripted" were real and which were fake. It feels like a reality show, but it is not one; the actors all play charicatures of themselves. Character actors like Jane Lynch even guest star in roles other than themselves. "Unscripted" blurs the line and does it efficiently...it's just a shame more people didn't understand that.
The problem audiences seem to have found with "Unscripted" is the fact that the show is not airbrushed by the glittery, glamorous Hollywood lens is where people will be surprised. Since it is a Section 8 endeavor, the shots are each highly stylized: the handheld camerawork and corner frame shots all scream with Soderbergh's influence. The dialogue is all unscripted but based on actual situations, so early comparisons to "Curb Your Enthusiasm" were made. And because of that, audiences will undoubtedly tune in and expect a half an hour over-the-top comedy about struggling actors. They will want overly dramatic situations and laughable one-liner responses by the heroes. And while there are some funnier moments (such as when Greenberg is caught by a Casting Director who cast a pilot he claims he was in), that is not what they are going to get. And that does not make it a boring show: such is life. This is a hard hitting, gritty, behind-the-scenes look at show business, and it's not always pretty or ideal. These actors are struggling, and sometimes suffering because of it, and we are brought along for every voyeuristic minute of the silently painful ride.
Saying nothing is profound, and Clooney found pure gold: to watch Krista's face rise and then fall as she realizes the perfect part she thought she was getting she is not, and then rise again, as guest star Garry Marshall says he wants her son for a role in his new project, is just priceless. No words are needed; the range of emotion (from excitement to disappointment to pride) on her face says it loud and clear. And if your heart doesn't break just a little for her in that moment, you have no soul. For someone who has been working for ten years to rid herself of the "sex symbol" role and be taken serious as an actress...well, "Unscripted" proves all she had to do was be herself.
Whereas, the general audience is used to sugarcoated doses of "celeb-reality" such as "It's Good To Be" or "Entetainment Tonight," "Unscripted" does not showcase superficial benefits to stardom. Actually, it is the exact opposite: so audiences might feel like they are being cheated, and perhaps they are. They are being cheated of that fašade that everything is perfect and every actor is a multi-millionaire. The one small disappointment for this reviewer is that they decided to cut out most of the anti-Rumsfeld material shot. But still, to me, that kind of honest look at the industry is the very reason the show is a success.
Furthermore, Frank Langella, playing the trio's acting teacher, offers most of the show's voice over, and if his words sound like the words of the God of Acting...well, they should. Clooney allows Langella to flow with guidance because he is the type of teacher we all wish we could have had in school (and the lucky ones did have). He is the Mr. Feeny for today's generation: his seasoned advice applies not only to acting, but to life in general, and every viewer can take away some of his wisdom and apply it to his or her own life. Langella keeps Allen, Greenberg, and Hall grounded and focused, proving that acting is a profession that needs work, just like anything else.
If this show teaches you nothing about Hollywood-its inner workings or its image-it teaches you that actors are just people, too, and at the end of the day, they need to feel good about the work they do. "Unscripted" is a refreshing change for Hollywood, in that regard: it has single-handedly torn down the unattainable barrier between the "actor" and the "regular person." All three (Allen, Greenberg, Hall) have the audience rooting for them to succeed. "Unscripted" (re?)humanizes the way we think of the famous.