7 Reasons I’m Already Totally Obsessed With “The Affair”

I’ve been seeing ads for Showtime’s “The Affair” for months now, so there was a lot of build up to last night’s series premiere, and I was expecting to be disappointed as a result. Hardly. Despite it’s utterly schmaltzy sounding title, “The Affair” is straight up juicy, smart, sexy TV. “True Detective” presented by Harlequin, or whatever. I’m obsessed. Here’s why.

1. Dominic West stars — and bares his ass. When I saw that the dashingly handsome Dominic West — best know to American audiences for his role as Jimmy McNulty on “The Wire” — was going to be on a Showtime drama about marital infidelity with a sexy/tawdry title like “The Affair,” my first instinct was, Fuck yes, I am watching this, bet we’ll see some of that fine ass. And I was not disappointed. West is a fantastic actor and he has the posterior to match.

2. The story is told through two at times conflicting perspectives. “The Affair” is all about, duh, an affair between a married father of four and a married woman grieving the death of her son, but told through their oftentimes starkly different point-of-views. In the first episode, we’re shown two perspectives on Noah (West) and Alison’s (Ruth Wilson) initial interactions, first at a diner and then later on the beach during a bonfire. Each views the other as having initiated what is clearly headed in a sexual direction, and while I’m inclined to think hers seems more realistic, I’m guessing that the truth, if it’s finally revealed, will be somewhere in the middle. Series co-creator Sarah Treem says the plot has a “Rashomon”-like structure, referring to the 1950 Kurosawa film in which four different characters offer conflicting POVs on a murder, explaining, “My feeling is that both sides are right, that the objective truth, if it exists, is something that the viewer will decide for themselves.”

3. There is a mystery of some sort afoot! The reason why we’re hearing about this whole affair first from Noah and then from Alison? It’s unclear, except that each is being interviewed, likely a police officer of some sort, at some point in the future. References to the affair being “so long ago” are aplenty. But why are they interviewed? Did someone die? Who? How? Why? It remains to be seen and I look forward to Dominic West’s bare ass telling us the story in detail.

4. It is very, very sexy. The first episode alone featured at least four sex scenes, two bare male asses (more on the second in, uh, a second) and lots of shots of Ruth Wilson’s lush boobs. While I lean straight, I’m totally an equal opportunity ogler and personally rarely complain about gratuitous nudity in my favorite TV shows, so BRING IT ON.

5. But it’s not all sexy, shallow fluff. “The Affair” is ultimately a show about marriage and gender.  “I’m super interested in gender and how men and women think about stories and tell stories,” Treem has said. “That was very much a part of how we were originally talking and conceptualizing the show. […] What we try to do really stringently in the writing of the show is not judge either character. We kind of went into it believing that these were two good people who were committed to their marriage. They weren’t serial philanderers. And by chance they’ve both been in very vulnerable places and by chance they both come to meet somebody who they ultimately come to think of as their true love. So what do they do?” Personally, I’m excited to watch a smart, thoughtful, nuanced look at what leads people to cheat. Aren’t you?

6. The supporting cast is awesome. Aside from West and Wilson, “ER””s Maura Tierney plays Noah’s wife Helen, sexxxxxxy Joshua Jackson plays Alison’s husband Cole, and their extended families include Mare Winningham and Bruce Butler. Helen’s parents, who the family is visiting in Montauk that fateful summer, are especially wickedly entertaining, with Helen’s mom telling her thin teenage granddaughter that if she loses 10 more pounds she’ll take her to Paris, which is totally something a Hamptons-area grandmother would say.

7. Oh yeah, PACEYYYYY. Joshua Jackson, who is incredibly underrated, plays Alison’s husband Cole, and yes, you see his ass too. The scene in question, which I don’t want to discuss in detail, is very upsetting when seen through Noah’s eyes, but heartbreakingly raw through Alison’s. Jackson plays into both perspectives flawlessly.

So, yeah, watch “The Affair,” you guys. The title makes it sound cheesy and vapid, but I swear, it’s anything but.