The Affair – Television Review

Normally we do not do television reviews. In fact this is the first. However, The Affair series on Showtime is go good, we thought it deserved special mention.

The Affair is a true East Coast Story, since it all takes place on Montauk Long Island. It is an erotic thriller set in current times. What makes it so good is that all the characters are absolutely real. Unlike many television shows none of the characters are written as stereotypes.  We see the good and bad parts of all the people, even the minor characters.

Dominic West plays “Noah Solloway” a school teacher/author who is married to a very wealthy woman (Helen).  The Solloway’s and their four children are spending  the summer on Montauk with Helen’s rich parents.  That is where Noah meets Alison Lockhart (played by Ruth Wilson) who is a local waitress and the two begin an affair.

Affair 1

When you describe the basic plot this way it  sounds very standard. What makes it  different is that all the characters are completely true to life. For one thing the show captures love/hate relationship the people who live on Montauk full-time feel towards the rich New Yorkers who come out every Summer. On the one hand the locals depend on the money from the New Yorkers to make a living. On the other hand they hate the way the New Yorkers are gradually urbanizing what was once a rural portion of a densely populated island.

By having an affair with one of these rich outsiders, Alison is breaking two taboos. In some ways Alison is taking a bigger risk than Noah. Locals who hook up with the New Yorkers are given the label “Summer Sluts” by the rest of the community.

The affair between Noah and Alison is about more than sex. They are both at very unhappy points in their lives. Noah has money but it all comes from his wife’s family. Noah himself is a public school teacher who is also a struggling writer. He has had one novel published and that did not sell very well. His main goal for the summer is to write his second novel.

In addition to the pressure that any writer would feel, Noah’s father-in-law is a world famous author. In fact, that is where all the family’s money comes from. The father in law never misses an opportunity to point out how much more successful he is than Noah.

Alison is in a state of deep depression when she first meets Noah. She has tragically  lost her child and has never been able to move on from that. Her husband keeps pushing her to move forward, but at the same time, everything he does reminds her of parts of her life she wants desperately to move away from.

Alison and Noah come together not just to be with each other, but to escape the rest of their existence.  When they are together they can at least pretend to be running away from the real world.

Overlying all of this is a murder.

All of the episodes are told in flashback in two parts. Noah and Alison are being interviewed separately by a homicide detective. Adding to the mystery is that we are not told who was killed.

In each episode Noah and Alison each tell the story of a particular day from their own perspective. Ofter they remember the same events completely differently. As an audience we do not know which version is the truth, or if the truth lies somewhere in between.

If you have not started this series, we recommend you watch it for the beginning.

We give this series Five Stars *****

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