By Shirley Li
July 16, 2018 at 03:00 PM EDT
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Inset: Bettina Strauss/Lifetime
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WARNING: The following contains spoilers for season 4 of UnREAL. Read at your own risk!

Quinn (Constance Zimmer) ended the series right back with Rachel (Shiri Appleby) safe in her arms. The two have managed to burn down Everlasting once and for all, and after four seasons, UnREAL ends with the pair of women finally coming to an understanding: that they have to move on from the show. For Rachel, it means embracing who she is, brown hair and all. For Quinn, it means not being a mom and starting that nuclear family she had planned for with Chet (Craig Bierko).

Below, Zimmer chats with EW about the series finale’s twists, what she would have liked to see more of, and directing one of the most harrowing scenes from UnREAL.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your reaction to reading those final scenes, with the mansion burning and Quinn and Rachel back in bed together? Do you think it’s a satisfying ending for them?
I think it is. There’s something weirdly satisfying about them burning down the mansion because it brought them so much pain and misery and it was kind of them taking the only thing they could kind of take control of and burning it down. That’s a baller move for two women to just say, “Screw this. We don’t want it, but we don’t want anyone else to have it either.”

Do you think Quinn did the right thing, though, to welcome Rachel back and not punish her for her actions?
I do, because I think that Quinn knew that at the heart of Rachel is somebody who just wants to be loved. And I think that Quinn believes, in her mind — which is a little bit of a mess — that she’s the only one that can love Rachel for everything she is — good, bad, or otherwise.

I don’t know, it felt like it would be really good therapy, that they would be able to make a decision and say, “Screw this. Burn it down. I accept you for everything you are, and we deserve better and we can do this together and from a healthier place.” Because Quinn was also trying to pretend to be something that she thought she could be and her reality was hard as well. They’re both just realizing they have to be okay with who they are, they have to accept themselves.

Right, Quinn this season was so ready to become a mother. But did she really lose her baby? When Rachel asks her, she doesn’t give a definitive answer. And if the script didn’t give one, did you have one that you chose to play?
I haven’t seen the take that they used, but we played it in a way that leaves it up to the audience’s interpretation of how. I had a very specific thing I was playing, but I’m a little hesitant to tell people if it’s one or the other. There’s something mysterious and interesting about letting people [think] whatever they think. I don’t know if that’s being lazy or copping out, but I know exactly what it is.

Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

Something the show was very clear on was how Rachel went too far with making a sexual assault happen for the sake of the show. What was your reaction to reading that story line?
Oh, I was horrified, especially because that’s the episode I directed… It’s dark. I mean, look, this season is not any lighter than our past seasons. We only have eight episodes to pretty much show these two characters and the three and four and five characters that we’ve been following for four seasons, how they’re gonna get out. Quinn and Rachel are extremes and that means that they are put into extreme situations in order to figure out what their own outcome is, because they’re so wrapped up in not being okay with just who they are. It’s hard. That is a harsh episode.

As the director, what were your goals going into that specific scene, especially with handling its sensitivity?
Yes, obviously the sensitivity factor was huge. In shooting it, I was very concerned about my actors and making sure that they were comfortable with what was being portrayed. It’s a sensitive subject, especially in today’s times and what we’re all dealing with and women coming to grips with what they’ve been through in the past. And here, we’re doing a reality show and we’re forcing this person to be put into [danger] so that she’ll do something about it, but [we’re] also not taking it lightly and not being like “Haha, isn’t that funny?” Because obviously it’s not.

A lot of it was kind of taken from what happened or didn’t happen in that Bachelor in Paradise episode and bringing an awareness of [the fact] that people are pushed to dark places for entertainment value, whether it’s being put on camera or not… That’s kind of always how they write the show, like, “You may not like us for doing this, but there’s gonna be a lot of you that can relate to this and maybe we can help push the needle to a place that makes people talk.” God bless what the writers did with this show. They’ve definitely kept it a show that people cannot stop talking about.

There’s so much that happens in just these eight episodes, but is there anything you would’ve wanted to see from your character, that you didn’t have time for?
I would’ve liked to have seen [Quinn and Rachel] be happy in their jobs. [Laughs] I think that’s one thing that I would’ve liked to have seen, that they did it on their terms and they were happy being in it, doing it together, being on the same team. I would’ve just liked to have seen them be happy. But I think they also have a very, very dark sense of happiness. I think weirdly the moment of them in bed is probably the happiest they’ve been in a long time.

Bettina Strauss/Lifetime

What was your last day on set like? Did you take anything with you?
Yes. Well, the wallpaper that’s in Quinn’s new office, they did the wallpaper in this really cool, like, palm tree wallpaper, so I’m actually gonna do a wall in my guest room with that wallpaper as kind of an homage to the show. And I have some of Quinn’s clothes, you know, things like that. It’s super bittersweet.

What’s next for you? Shiri said she was looking forward to working in L.A. again.
Yeah, I know. The back and forth of Vancouver for five years was a lot, it takes a toll on your life. But I’m moving forward in some more directing opportunities, which is exciting. And I actually have a couple of projects that I want to create and be a part of from the ground up…. I’ve decided to do more directing. Directing was really something I dreamed of doing and now I’ve done it and I just want to do it more.

Anything else you want to add?
I hope that the fans are satisfied. Because I know there’s nothing worse than a show being over and people having all these wishes, like, “Oh, I wish this would’ve happened,” or “Oh, that should’ve happened.” I hope that people are satisfied with the ending… When it’s over, [I’d like them to go], “Okay. They’re gonna be okay.” That’s all I want. I want them to believe that after that ending, the show is over, and they can say, “They’re gonna be okay. They’re gonna make it together, because they just pretty much burnt down, got rid of everything that made them feel horrible.”

Quinn does say, “We can do better.” That’ll hopefully point them in the right direction, no? But that’s just me. Maybe other people will think differently.
Yeah, I think people are gonna be very sad that it doesn’t end with us kissing. [Laughs] I think that’ll be people’s biggest disappointment. But, you know, that is what I think made the show unique, that the Quinn and Rachel relationship was not a sexual relationship and yet it was probably more intimate than any other relationship I’ve ever seen on television between a male and a female.

And I am so happy that they kept them what they were, because that was the whole thing — to show that there is a deep intimacy between women, and it doesn’t have to then go over into something else. It can be what it is and we can accept it and we can embrace it and we can understand it and realize that there are women out there who do want the best for other women. We just have a hard time sometimes of showing it or admitting it.

UnREAL season 4 is now streaming on Hulu.

Episode Recaps

The Lifetime drama — created by Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and featuring Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer — explores the dark behind-the-scenes nature of a reality dating show (which is very clearly based on 'The Bachelor').
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  • 4
  • TV-MA
  • 06/01/15-07/16/18
Complete Coverage