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Showtime unspools its second new drama of the year with The Affair, a complex look at the emotional and psychological effects of an extramarital affair. But to hear producers tell it, there’s much more to the story than the title suggests.
The drama will be told separately from the male and female perspectives using the distinct memory biases to both misdirect and intrigue. Ruth Wilson (Luther) plays Alison, a woman waiting tables at a popular Hamptons diner, trying to piece her life back together in the wake of a tragedy. Her husband, Cole (Fringe‘s Joshua Jackson), struggles to keep it all together, with his wife and with the financially strained ranch that has been in his family for generations. Their emotionally charged marriage becomes even more complicated when Alison begins an affair with Noah (Dominic West, The Wire), a New York public school teacher and aspiring novelist who is spending the summer at his in-laws’ estate out on the island. ER‘s Maura Tierney plays Helen, Noah’s wife of 17 years.
Playwright and writer-producer Sarah Treem (House of Cards) wrote the original script from a story co-created with Hagai Levi, whom she worked with on In Treatment. Treem and Levi will exec produce alongside Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights), who directs.
“We think of the show as more about marriage,” Treem told reporters Friday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. “The term affair will prove somewhat ironic if you keep watching the show.”
The series takes a Rashomon approach to its storytelling, with the first season told from Noah’s and Alison’s points of view. Subsequent seasons, Treem suggested, may include different perspectives, but the series’ main exploration will focus on differences in how men and women tell a story as well as an exploration of class as part of a larger mystery that is unveiled in the pilot.
“The show is about the lives of the characters, not the mystery. Are you going to be left with your pants down like a season of The Killing? No,” Jackson said, noting the characters’ journeys are the central focus rather than what’s revealed in the pilot.
The Affair premieres Sunday, Oct. 19, at 10 p.m. on Showtime. Watch the trailer, below.
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