Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Review of “The Affair” on Showtime

Cast of Showtime's The Affair
Cast of Showtime's The Affair
by Catherine Giordano

Showtime’s The Affair is a wonderful fable of love and marriage. It unfolds slowly, as life does. It hints at secrets, and then adds layer after layer as the secrets are revealed. Season One has just concluded its ten-episode run and is now available “On Demand”. It’s a great show to binge watch.  

The story is told in a unique way. A police investigation is taking place.The two main characters, Noah Solloway (Dominic West) and Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson), each have their time with Detective Jeffries (Victor Williams) to recount their stories. Noah and Allison are the man and woman having the affair, and they are each married to someone else.

The first half hour of each hour-long episode is Noah’s recounting of events; the second half hour is Alison’s recounting of the same events. heir stories don’t always match up. For instance, who initiated the affair? Depends on who is telling the story. At first the two segments of the show covered the same events, but as the story expanded, each segment included events known only to the protagonist of the segment.

During the first few episodes, we don’t even know why the two are talking to the investigator. Finally we learn that he is conducting a murder investigation, but viewers are not told who was murdered until near the end of season. As I said, secrets are slowly revealed. 

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot. Part of the enjoyment of the show is just letting the show work its magic as we learn more and more about the characters and their lives. So I’ll just give a brief introduction to the main characters.  

Noah Solloway, is in his mid 40’s and has a comfortable life and a comfortable marriage. He is married to Helen (Maura Tierney), and they have four children ranging in age from about 5 years old to about 15 years old, and they all live in a comfortable Brooklyn brownstone. I hate to be trite, but he is ripe for a mid-life crisis. 

Noah is a college professor and has had his first novel published. The book was a critical, but not a financial success. As the story begins, Noah and his family have gone to Montauk where Helen’s father and mother live. Her father is a successful author of bestsellers. The family plans to stay in Montauk for the summer while Noah finishes his second book.  

Alison Lockhart is young woman—late twenties—who has lived her whole life in Montauk. She works as a waitress and has a lost waif-like quality. She is married to Cole Jackson, a local man, but they mostly lead separate lives. We discover that her young son has recently died, but we don’t learn how he died until nearly the end of the season. This is the crisis in her life that sets her into upheaval. 

As I said, the story slowly unfolds and as it unfolds, it slowly expands to include the stories of the families of the two lovers. Noah’s children and in-laws are brought into the story. Alison has a hippie mother named Athena and a grandmother in a nursing home.  She is also part of a sprawling family composed of her mother in-law, her brothers-in-law and their wives. The family owns a ranch n Montauk.  

The town of Montauk is almost like another character in the story. It’s natural beauty and its small-town life is woven into the story. 
Fiona-Apple CD
CLICK HERE for more music from Fiona Apple
Usually, I skip the opening credits of TV shows, but not when I watch “The Affair.”  A haunting song, "Container" written and performed by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, opens each show. Each week I puzzle anew over its meaning. I think the first part of the song is about how each of our actions has an ever-expanding affect on others, like the ripples that occur when a stone is thrown into the pond. Then it changes, and the second half of the song is about how each life is just a part of the whole, like a wave that crests, and then falls back into the ocean.

Keep those two themes in mind when you watch the show.
(Here is a video of the opening credits.)

The Affair has been nominated for "Best Drama" by the Golden Globes. Dominic West, who plays Noah, has the Golden Globes nomination for "Best Actor."  I nominate him for "Sexiest Man Alive."  I'm just not sue if I am nominating Dominic West or Noah Solloway.

Learn more about the series on the homepage for The Affair