Fall TV Preview

The Affair Cast Talks Infidelity Stigma, Dual Roles, 'Mind-Blowing' Sex Trope

The Affair Renewed

Showtime this Sunday at 10/9c invites you to lay witness to The Affair that ignites between an aspiring novelist and a Hamptons waitress, each uniquely unhappy in their respective marriages.

But whereas TV’s most recent bid to revolve a premise on infidelity, ABC’s one-and-done Betrayal, left people cold, this new drama presents the illicit relationship from two distinct points of view — that of the aforementioned waitress, Alison (played by Luther‘s Ruth Wilson), and Hamptons vacationer Noah (The Wire‘s Dominic West). Joshua Jackson (Fringe) and Maura Tierney (ER), meanwhile, play Alison and Noah’s respective mates, Cole and Helen.

And as an added wrinkle, there are flash-forwards in which some of the involved parties are being individually questioned by the police, for reasons unknown.

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Suggesting how The Affair might excel where Betrayal fell short, Wilson says, “What I was attracted to was the conceit of this show, in telling the story from two points of view. It keeps the audience guessing, Episode 101it keeps questions unanswered until further down the line.”

Tierney — the only of the four primaries actually familiar with ABC’s poorly received drama — concurs, saying, “I don’t think that show had a device like [our dual narrative],” while Jackson can only surmise, “Since the name is Betrayal, maybe they’ve made their moral judgement for you!” In The Affair, meanwhile, “We try as much as possible to not judge the characters, and deal with the repercussions of the choices they make,” he says. “Hopefully, since the characters are struggling with the same moral issues, it will allow the audience to feel more invested.”

Indeed, marital infidelity is “a hot subject,” West affirms, “and everyone’s qualified to have an opinion. And I think if this works, it will be because people see their own lives in it, things they may have done or thought.”

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Because each episode has two halves — one offering Noah’s perspective, followed by Alison’s — each member of the cast to varying degrees plays two different characters. For example, Alison’s recollection of a pivotal moment in the pilot presents her husband as quite a brute (“There’s a real threat of violence,” Jackson notes), while Noah’s interpretation of Cole in that instant is comparatively inconclusive.

“That was a big reason why I was intrigued with the script,” Tierney says. “My character is quite different in the two viewpoints,” depicted in one as “much more of a rich, sort of snobby, intimidating, very cold person.”

For West, juggling the slightly different Noahs was a task, if only because from Alison’s point of view, he isn’t the smoothest player. “When it would come out that your character did something particularly stupid or unpleasant or unlikable, I’d go, ‘He can’t do that!'” the actor relates with a laugh. “But then you remember, it’s not your point of view. Episode 102So that was something to get your head around.”

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The Affair, as comes with its very title, doesn’t shy away from sex scenes — yet unlike your typical Hollywood production, for screen big or small, it removes much of the gloss. Here, Jackson releases an uproarious riff, detailing love scene tropes such as “gauzy light, and music, and candles, and it’s clearly been the most amazing f–k she’s ever had in her life, because the makeup suddenly fell back onto her face and her hair is done and she’s glowing….” And yet the woman will then rise from bed, demurely wrapped in a sheet. “It takes you right out of the scene,” he observes.

Says West, “You read a lot of scripts where they have ‘mind-blowing sex,’ the very first time, and what’s good about this [series] is that the first time is a bit of a disaster. But I like that. Because it often is. The first time is awkward, and then the sex gets better.

“I wish we had taken that a bit further, actually,” he adds, admitting: “I’ve had a lot of experience in that!”

Will you give Showtime’s The Affair a look-see?

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17 Comments
  1. Dmac says:

    Nope, not even remotely interested. I sat through the whole season on Betrayal and though it did get better towards the end…I was left with a feeling of ickiness and felt a bit sorrid for for watching it. The bottom line is that two people ruined people’s lives and I don’t care how many POV they have the end result is the same.

    • Doogadoo says:

      Oh but you would watch a person blow somebody’s brains out right? I mean those are the shows that get higher ratings right?

      • M3rc Nate says:

        Personally yes (to an extent, gore makes my stomach uneasy), but hey we all have our weaksposts…some people just can NOT watch shows with murder/gore/violence/swearing/nudity/sex scenes etc….for at least me, its shows with cheating. Its the ultimate betrayal and its disgusting, its what you trust your partner/lover/companion/wife/husband the most to NOT do.

        Fantastic people have blown peoples heads off, in the military and police force are some fantastic men and women, some of the nicest, sweetest, thoughtful amazing people you could meet (of course you will meet at least one person like that in a group of 100,000), and at least one who is all of those things has blown someones head off…to defend someone else, to defend themselves, because they are at war, or many of the other 100% allowable reasons. But a cheater? Is there a thoughtful, sweet, amazing, loving, trustworthy person in the world who has cheated on their husband/wife? Arent at LEAST thoughtful and trustworthy adjectives that are exclusive to someone who HASNT cheated on their partner?

        Also, watching someone blow someones head off still feels VERY distant, very unreal, because 99% of us havent experienced it at all in our lives…but cheating? Most have experienced cheating, almost all know someone who has been cheated on and how heartbroken they were and how much pain it caused them, so cheating is a lot more real and relate-able for us as viewers to dislike.

        And last, that argument “oh so you cant watch ____ but you can watch ____?!” is so lame and shallow and typical. I could shoot the same back at you with “you watch violence and murder and heads getting chopped off and yet you couldnt watch a show about a rapist and the graphic rape scenes in the show? Why not? You can watch a show like TWD or Game of Thrones or any of the other hyper/very violent shows…why cant you watch a show about rape?” That statement is just as true as yours, but the answer is the same…rape…cheating…they are things very close to us, we are very sensitive about as human beings, because they are VERY real…where as guys with swords chopping off heads or guys with huge guns blowing off heads isnt.

    • M3rc Nate says:

      Absolutely agree, I have not and i will not ever watch a show about cheating, cheating is the line i cant cross into being entertained by it, its disgusting and the ultimate betrayal of two people in a relationship (let alone a marriage). Its also not interesting/compelling to me and its done WAY too often. Shows i didnt even try to watch include : Betrayal, and Satisfaction. Nope, i’ll pass every time, gross, repulsive, and disgusting.

      Its not that this sounds like its trying to be as compelling and interesting and multi-dimensional as possible, but still wont try it.

      Good luck to Joshua Jackson, loved him on Fringe, but damn i really wish him, Anna Torv, Yvonne Strahovski and others would have ended up on shows that were cool that i want to watch. (Torv still might i believe her HBO show didnt get picked up or something like that).

      • Doogadoo says:

        Since I’m not into self righteous people hating a show before giving it a chance, I’m done.

        • Fran says:

          Its just someone’s personal preference, I have no idea why it bothers you so much or why you take it so seriously.

          • M3rc Nate says:

            Amen Fran, i dont have a single problem when someone tells me they wont (based on moral principles or standards or beliefs or personal taste) watch something, whether it be nude scenes, sex scenes, violence, the military, shows/movies with rape etc. I am personally disgusted by shows with cheating, especially shows based on cheating, but i dont feel like others need to think how i do, i dont have an issue with people who do watch.

            Do i really need to give a show a shot when its about something i strongly dislike and find repulsive? If a show was coming out about a rapist and they graphically showed it every few episodes and the show was trying to sell to you that the person was still a good guy…would you still need to give it a shot to know it sounds repulsive and un-watchable?

          • Doogadoo says:

            I suggest you go watch the Disney channel then. Lol

      • ElasticHeart says:

        pffffffff then move on. to disney channel or nikelodeon idk. why rant here?

  2. Tim says:

    Can’t wait! Love illicit affairs. Power on Starz has a great illicit love affair going on.

  3. torimelching says:

    Watched the first episode the other night. Willing to see where it goes.

  4. ElasticHeart says:

    loved the pilot. the whole cast is brilliant especially Ruth Wilson. can’t wait to see the rest.

  5. Maria says:

    Already watched the premiere On Demand and I gotta say this show is very intriguing. The fact that it is shown in two differnt points of view and how different each point of view is really makes it even more interesting. I will definetly keep watching because I have to know how it all turns out.

  6. Danielle says:

    I thought the pilot was good and hope the episodes that follow are as good or even better.

  7. Jane says:

    The sex scenes are disgusting.

  8. ALLISON AND BETRAYED WIFE USE THE SAME BOTOX DOC, THEY BOTH HAVE “DUCK LIPS”. THEY COULD BE SISTERS/ DOESN’T ANYONE ELSE SEE THIS BOTHERSOME LOOKALIKE?

  9. NORMA JEAN says:

    Fantastic show – The Affair…love story line…true to life…like the separate viewpoints from actors…so very pleased 2nd season….

    Also…what happened to TV Show – The Betrayal?