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Shiri Appleby Breaks Down UnREAL’s Timely Season 3 Theme: Rachel Stands Up to Her Rapist (Exclusive)

Season 2 of UnREAL ended well over a year ago, so it’s safe to say the fans are craving the return of Quinn and Rachel. The third season, which was shot from February to May 2017, was pushed back, originally leaving the cast worried about the show’s future. However, it may have just ended up being perfect timing.

Shiri Appleby UnREAL
Shiri Appleby as Rachel in ‘UnREAL.’ Bettina Strauss

Related: ‘UnREAL’ Season 3 First Look Photos: Rachel Cozies Up to a Suitor

“The interesting thing is that the season is about Rachel confronting her past. She goes and confronts her rapist and deals with the aftermath of that. We learn so much about her life,” Shiri Appleby told Us Weekly in an exclusive interview. “We made this season a year ago. It’s literally been sitting on the shelf since February last year. At the time, we were like, ‘Oh, My God, are people going to be interested in this?’ … I think we really got lucky. We’d been waiting for the show to be released and now it feels so relevant.”

During season 2, Rachel revealed that she had been raped by one of her mother’s patients when she was 12. However, the story line will come to the forefront during season 3 — something that Appleby was hesitant about.

“I was really timid and apprehensive about shooting it. Luckily I was directing the episode where Rachel does confront her rapist, so I could create a safe environment around that,” she revealed to Us. “I think for Rachel, confronting her rapist and her past, is an incredibly strong, empowering thing to do that she does with all the confidence she can. She learns a lot more about her life and the story of her mom and her dad, and she finds a lot of closure with that … it shows you a perspective of who you’ve become and how you’ve gotten there. I think it gives Rachel a lot of closure and acceptance of who she’s become.”

Related: The Power of Women: 2017's History-Making Moments

The Roswell alum also pointed out that she hopes this does help women who may not have the courage to stand up for themselves yet. “I think that’s a brave thing that a lot of women are doing right now and it’s a wonderful thing being shown on television to give other women a visual and an example of what that conversation can look like,” she continued.

Shiri Appleby Constance Zimmer UnREAL
Shiri Appleby as Rachel and Constance Zimmer as Quinn in ‘UnREAL.’ James Dittiger

This season, more than the first two, is all about the strength of the women. For the first time, Everlasting will have a female suitress, who presents an entirely new challenge to Rachel and Quinn (Constance Zimmer).

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“She’s really there to fall in love and the reasons she’s challenging for Rachel and Quinn is she’s a smart, ballsy woman that they can’t really manipulate the same way they could with people that were there for fame,” Appleby explained. “She plays their game and she calls them on their s—t. She’s challenging because she’s smart! A smart woman pushing other smart women … It’s kinda nice!”

UnREAL premieres on Lifetime Monday, February 26, at 10 p.m. ET.

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