November 19, 2014

"The Affair" - A Powerful Affair

Romance bores me, but affair doesn't... The Showtime TV drama series The Affair, is a story about a serious affair - both lovers - Noah and Alison - are married, with their respectively royal (at least so far) husband and wife, yet they fall in love with each other at the first sight, and get more and more passionate and comfortable about each other. There are quite many sexual scenes, played by both actors intensely and realistically, make their secret passion dangerously contagious. I can imagine that it must be disturbing for audiences with conventional minds.

Again, romance is not my type, but I am addicted into this show nonetheless because there is so much more than just "affair". There is humanity in their affair, which draws audiences sympathy "ruthlessly" to the characters, despite our moral principle; there are background stories with "secrets" from each side's family, being unraveled slowly, but intriguingly through each episode; there is suspense - a murder is going on, which we knew from the first episode, but still know so little about it after 6 episodes. So we keep guessing.

The format of story telling of this show is unique: each episode has two parts, the first part is told by Noah, the second by Alison. Though they suppose to tell the same stories, but the contents are quite different. This is very interesting because it reflects a fact in real life, that since most of us (probably we all) memorize things in our own ways, what we remember do not always match what truly happened. So, no doubt this special structure of story telling makes story more complicated.

The reason I started watching this show was Ruth Wilson, a brilliant British actress whom I discovered through the TV show Luther. In that show, Wilson struck me by her intellectual and whimsical personality. After watching Luther, I knew I would almost watch everything this young woman played. Last night I just watched "Saving Mr Banks", she again, struck me with her powerful performance. She seems to always be able to devoted to her roles so thoroughly and so selflessly that she is not eve afraid of making herself "ugly" (yet, of course, her beauty and confidence never fail to display). And this show "The Affair", seems to be perfectly suitable for Wilson, because of the complication and multi-layered personality of Alison.

In episode 5, Alison's mother says to Alison after she intuitively discovers her daughter's affair: "... This is the first time I've seen your life force since we lost Gabriel. You think I"m not with you, but I am. Energetically, I am with you all the time and I know that the pain was unbearable so you shut down your heart. Well, now it's open. You are allowing a vital flow of energy to flow through you to connect with someone else in a real way. That's what life is, sweetie, It's not about some oppressive set of rules from about 2,000 years ago about good wife/daughter/mother-ness."

The Affair* is indeed a powerful affair. I always believe, a real good art work should not just entertain audiences, but also probe deep into humanity, trigger serious controversy, let us to question our existing moral convention, so we could put effort into building a better world, which protects each individual's happiness in maximum (Isn't that all humanism about?). The Affair is just one of those kind.

* It's worth to mention, that the writer of this show Hagai Levie, also wrote In Treatment, another favorite show of mine.


  1. I like your review (Shallowness is afraid of controversy and complexity). You make it sound intriguing and interesting

    1. Thanks Julia Hones! It is indeed intriguing. The first 2 or 3 episodes are a little slow, but the good acting keep you watching, and getting addicted!

    2. “Shallowness is afraid of controversy and complexity", very well put!

  2. Hi again Yun.
    I'd like to clarify that The Clock is a short story. But you can google it and find it for free online.
    Thanks for coming back to my blog.

    1. Thanks Julia for clarifying! I actually searched last night and did not find it as a novel, so I ordered a short-story collection instead. Hope it contains The Clock. If not, as you said, I could still read it from online somewhere. :-)