Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Affair Review

I had no idea what to expect when I began watching this, but it had me hooked right from the start. Sounds kinda lighthearted with some injections of drama every now and then, right? Wrong.

To begin with, it all seems quite cliché and obvious; a failing novelist can't resist the local waitress and starts a relationship with her. They try to hide it, people find out, everyone is furious, there are consequences.

But what happens when you throw in major plot twists and multiple sides to every story? You end up with a series that leaves you speechless with mere minutes to recover between each revelation.

Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson) and Noah Solloway (Dominic West) are undoubtedly flawed, with Noah seeming to think that his life is a novel. Someone needs to remind him that the consequences of his selfish decisions aren't fictional.

First things first, I can guarantee you that certain aspects of this show will get under your skin so let's get them out of the way first:

1. The song. The stupid theme song. I hate it, I truly do. It was okay for the first couple of episodes but now I have to mute the TV for the duration of the opening credits. I get that it's supposed to add a sense of mystery but it's tedious and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Unfortunately, I have to push my sanity aside because the content that follows is so worth it.

2. Just to warn you, you'll probably absolutely despise Noah. He's arrogant, and always says or does the wrong thing; that's his speciality. I don't think there's been a single episode where I haven't screamed at him in anger and frustration.

3. Noah's daughter, Whitney (Julia Goldani Telles), does nothing but whine and argue. However, on a lighter note, as the series has progressed so has she. I know that character growth is important and you see it all the time but I hadn't been expecting it from her. It shocked me a little that we were shown the immature version of her and then all of a sudden she makes a revelation about what she wants out of life and it all makes sense; she felt trapped and lost, suffocated by expectations. Sound familiar, anyone? If you're a young adult, chances are you can relate to her in more ways than one (yes that means you were probably whiny and annoying when you were sixteen too).

The way this show is structured is key to understanding why it's caught so much attention; viewers see situations and characters through either Alison's eyes or Noah's (and Helen's and Cole's in season two).

During the first episode when it popped up with "Part 2: Alison" I did a double take, sighed, and thought I'd be giving up on the show by the end of that first ep because I figured that the story would be pretty much the same.

What I didn't expect, was for the two perspectives to be so contrasted. That, ladies and gentleman, is the main element of drama. Viewers don't know the real truth, we just know different versions of it and it leads to a never-ending list of theories.

This is also how I've grown to love characters I hated at first, I realised for example that my first impression of Cole was from Noah's perspective, and Alison didn't exactly paint him in the best light either and so it took a while to figure out what Cole is really like.

Noah's wife, Helen (Maura Tierney), however, has always been my favourite. There is no doubt about it, she completes the show.

I mean, look at her up there, finally taking time for herself after everything her Husband and kids have put her through.

She's brilliant; she speaks her mind and you can't even hate her for being rude because we've watched her suffer for so long. There's no messing around, Helen's time is now and she knows she deserves it.

I can't help but think that perhaps I love her because she hates Noah as much as I do..

Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson) is just as selfish as Noah, obviously, but I can't help but feel attached to her. She is completely broken after the death of her and Cole's son (technically not a spoiler because it happened before the story begins) and it has put an irreparable rift between the two.

She has stated multiple times that she has no direction in life so it's pretty clear to see that she was having an existential crisis at the time she met Noah, and when you combine that with the issue of Cole completely isolating her and forcing her to grieve alone, it makes her actions seem slightly justifiable.

In fact, Ruth Wilson herself said "As an actor, you have to empathise with every character you play. So with Alison, I understood exactly why she had an affair. I understood why she met this man and needed to escape from her life. I don’t judge her actions."

Side note: Noah still has no excuse for anything and nobody can convince me otherwise. 

To begin with, I couldn't stand him but now I'm rooting for Cole to be happy. I hated him for being so arrogant and blind to Alison's feelings but now I get it a little more; he was grieving in his own way and didn't know how to do that with another person.

His character development is monumental, allowing us to eventually see how broken he truly is and how he's desperately trying to change his life for the better and take care of his family.

Speaking of his family, the Lockharts have enough drama between them to create a whole new series based on them. The majority of the drama in 'The Affair' is centred around Cole's brother, Scotty, actually and I wasn't expecting to like his character at all but I did for a while.

I may be biased because I love Colin Donnell so much but I definitely think that he is one of the best actors of the show. Not that the rest aren't great (especially Maura Tierney), but Donnell is portraying a guy who is drunk or high on drugs most times we see him and he does so flawlessly. Thinking about it, have we ever seen a sober Scotty Lockhart?

Due to the nature of the show, you almost don't want to like it and you feel morally wrong for genuinely enjoying it and tuning in each week, but despite how twisted and flawed every character is, you're sucked in by it. You cling onto their every word, action and mistake and find yourself wanting more drama.

This show is not just about romance; it's about grief, heartbreak and downfalls and I love every single second of it.

Season 3 is coming to Sky 1 later this year or you can watch on demand on Sky Go! 

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