“Marriage means different things to different people”-Alison from “The Affair”
This fall’s best new show, “The Affair,” invites us to the world of Noah (Dominic West) and Alison (Ruth Wilson). In an interrogation room, both are recounting their take on their affair in light of a fatal crime. Noah and Alison’s personal memories of the events, however, are shown to be vastly different. “The Affair” makes the viewer question who is telling the truth, or if either character’s take on the events are reliable truths. No matter whose side you relate to most, the most fascinating part of “The Affair” is definitely how it can make us as viewers question the way we remember our own personal experiences.
If that hasn’t gotten you to look up the show, here are five reasons as to why you should be watching this series. There are only two episodes out so get to it!
The he said/she said plot device and the recollection of our own memories
The original premise of an affair is not as significant as the vehicle used to tell this story. “The Affair” utilizes the Rashomon effect, where different perspectives of events proves the “relativity of truth and the unreliability, the inevitable subjectivity, of memory.” In this case, Noah and Alison each get half of the episode to recount the same events. The two-part episodes tell us much more than the average television drama can: it fills in details we were wondering about and it allows for different interpretations to the same events.
This is the most fascinating part of the show. It allows for Noah to be a whiny WASP about his wealth-by-inheritance and his general incompetence when it comes to being a successful writer. But it also allows for Alison to shine through, with her complicated and traumatizing past, to flesh out the characters further, and most importantly, to not have Alison be just a “homewrecker.” Thank you for that, “The Affair.”
I will admit that the primary reasons I decided to watch this show, without knowing much about the premise, were Ruth Wilson and Joshua Jackson. I was an avid fan of “Luther” and “Fringe” and I have been patiently waiting for both actors to appear on new shows because they are the cream of the crop. Ruth Wilson has to be one of the most versatile actors on television today–and I am patiently awaiting her Emmy nom just from these first two episodes (imagine the possibilities for her as an actor as the episodes progress!). Furthermore, Joshua Jackson was one of my high school celebrity crushes (Polivia forever), and he’s also the most charming person ever.
Of course, I couldn’t go on without saying something about Dominic West (“The Wire”) and Maura Tierney (“The Good Wife”). They are fantastic as well, especially Maura.
The co-creator and writer
The show’s creator, Sarah Treem, has worked on House of Cards as co-executive producer and writer. She has also worked on In Treatment and How To Make It In America. It makes me happy to support a fantastic show helmed by a woman.
“[T]here’s a whole world of differences in the way people think of creators and what that role means. It is traditionally thought of as a masculine job, so I think to be a female creator is challenging for all sorts of reasons. But one thing I will say is that Showtime now has half female showrunners, which is amazing. I don’t know any other network that has something like that. It’s cool.”
The Affair had the highest series debut in Showtime history at 2.5 million viewers across all platforms. This gives me very high hopes for the future of this show, which is an important part in my decision to commit. I know that it could go on for three, four, or five seasons. I want to believe!
The crime and the air of mystery
In the first two episodes, it has been established that someone has died and the police are now investigating it as a crime. This is another aspect that the show gets right: while it’s difficult to keep the audience in the dark about something they have no information or personal attachment to, “The Affair” dangles the crime in our faces in a mysterious way. It allows for much hypothesizing and theorizing–who could be dead? And who would want them dead?
Overall, “The Affair” shows promise–more than a lot of shows I have watched in the past few years. I am excited by the possibility of a new great drama.
The Affair airs on Showtime Sundays at 10 p.m. EST.