* UNREAL. 10 tonight. Lifetime.

* THE WHISPERS. 10 tonight, 6ABC.

IT'S HARD to get more cynical about TV matchmaking than the tweeting fans who've made "The Bachelor" buzz-worthy long past its sell-by date.

But Lifetime's new "UnReal" manages it.

A soap opera set behind the scenes of a show, "Everlasting," that looks very much like the ABC standard, "UnReal" stars Shiri Appleby ("Roswell") as Rachel, a troubled young producer whose talent for manipulating contestants is only a smidgen stronger than her self-loathing.

Constance Zimmer and Craig Bierko play her bosses, whose manipulation of each other and of their employees mirrors the show's treatment of contestants.

Debuting tonight after an eventful Season 3 premiere of "Devious Maids" (and the latest episode of ABC's "The Bachelorette"), "UnReal" gets real about race and "reality" in its very first scene, spelling out exactly what role an African-American contestant won't be considered for (and in a later episode showing what it takes for one to be noticed).

What makes one woman a potential "wifey" and another a "villain"? What happens when the designated "suitor" (Freddie Stroma) won't play along? And what's wrong with Rachel that she can't take whatever's left of her self-respect and walk away?

Created by Marti Noxon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce") and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro - who, not incidentally, once worked as a producer on "The Bachelor" - "UnReal" is as much a show about the compromises people make to earn a living as it is an insider's guide.

But until ABC succeeds in landing comedian Amy Schumer as "The Bachelorette," it's also as close as TV gets to pulling back the curtain on a loathsome genre.

ABC's 'The Whispers'

There was the whisper of a summer nightmare in the original pilot for ABC's "The Whispers," but it may be gone now.

Creepy children wreaking mayhem on orders from an unseen, possibly not imaginary "friend"? I could see possibilities, even as an FBI child consultant (Lily Rabe) entered the picture and signs pointed to something just as sinister but maybe less spooky.

Or not.

One revamped pilot and a couple of more episodes in, and I know even less about what's going on, and nothing I can actually tell you - even in a whisper - about this Steven Spielberg production, created by Soo Hugh.

Other than that it may demand more patience than it's worth.

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

Blog: ph.ly/EllenGray