Plot twist – the story is told in flashbacks.
Initially drawn in by one of my favourite actresses, Ruth Wilson, I had quite high expectations for The Affair, as Ruth is one to only settle for the (best) and most compelling roles, nothing less. And she doesn’t half deliver – certainly one of the most heartfelt and enthralling performance’s of her career! I love dramas that surprise me with intriguing methods of storytelling as well as hidden depths. Showtime’s The Affair sounded like a mundane idea on the surface, so I was exceptionally pleased everything was elevated by a strong narrative and excellent performances. If anything, my expectations were exceeded.
I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot. Most of the enjoyment of the show is just letting the narrative work its magic as we learn more and more about the characters and their lives. Noah (Dominic West) is a writer living in New York with his wife, Helen, and their four children. To say the least, he is certainly living the ‘American dream’. He experiences a hint of frustration in his life regarding his under achievement. Alison (Ruth Wilson) is a married waitress who works at a small diner; having lost a child, is trying to cope with her loss. After reading my short description, you may assume that The Affair has a cliché narrative about two adults with complicated lives that come across one another. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. This show is not just about them.
To begin with, we find out that a crime has taken place, the result being; someone has died. Alison and Noah are introduced at the police station being interviewed by a detective eager to solve the case. Each of them tell their version of the events, and the details change. In fact, at times, they provide alibis which differ. One of them is lying. Or perhaps both of them are telling the truth…their truth. The question is, Who should you believe?
The protagonists become unreliable witnesses of their own lives. Each episode is told in two parts, the first Noah’s, the second Alison’s, and we witness the same scenes told from two different perspectives and follow-ups which to me, is absolutely fascinating. Whether The Affair can sustain it’s first season’s quality is another question, but I’m hopeful.