HomeTelevisionTV Recap: The Affair, Series Premiere

TV Recap: The Affair, Series Premiere

Posters for Showtime's The Affair.

Summary: The psychological effects of an affair between a married waitress (Ruth Wilson) at a Hamptons diner and a teacher (Dominic West) who spends his summer at his in-laws’ estate on the island.

Like most people I’ve spoken to regarding The Affair, I was excited about this show for one thing and one thing only: Joshua Jackson. Maybe it’s the crowd I roll with, or maybe it’s just that Joshua Jackson has literally played two of the most romantic and charismatic characters on television (Peter on Fringe and Pacey on Dawson’s Creek) in my lifetime, but despite Jackson not exactly being the star of this show, most people know is as “that new Joshua Jackson show.”

I was pleasantly surprised to find that although he’s just a secondary character, at least in the pilot, watching The Affair was a great use of my time. This TV show has something special (and it’s not just Joshua Jackson. Fine, fine, I’ll stop talking about him now).

It’s set up as a bit of a mystery. We know there is an affair (obviously) and we also know there is some sort of incident the affair causes. What’s kind of brilliant about the show is that about halfway through we realize that we’re getting these events from each character’s perspective. In this episode the first half is told from the man’s perspective (Dominic West). The second half is then those same events from the woman’s perspective (Ruth Wilson). It’s unclear whether all the episodes will be split this way, or we’ll get more character’s perspectives. I hope it’s the latter (for obvious reasons that I promised not to mention anymore).

What makes this show so unique is that the perspectives we get work together in a way that’s funny, heartbreaking, and really says so much about the human condition and the way humans interact. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a show or movie that is able to portray so clearly the way that each human sees themselves as the center of their own universe. I think when we see selfishness in media, it’s usually parody or someone we are not supposed to like. Here, the inherent self-centeredness of humanity is outlined in a way that isn’t even overtly cynical or disheartening – it’s just a reality of our existence.

This is a very different kind of story telling, that allows us to get to know these characters on a deeper level than we’re used to. And whether we like these characters or not (the jury is still out for me… they paint two very different pictures of how events actually unfolded and I believe the perspective of other characters is necessary to really understand which pieces are reliable), that alone is a reason to tune in.

Character shows are my favorite.

Rating: 8.5/10


Marla Pachter is a comedic writer, obsessed with all things television. She doesn’t discriminate against TV shows, which either results in pleasant surprise or an eviscerating review for your reading pleasure. Marla loves Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine Nine, and she will probably be watching new seasons of Grey’s Anatomy until she’s 90. Sometimes she writes TV shows herself, but they don’t air on television. She also likes big butts and she cannot lie. (That was a lie). @MarlaPachter




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