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Talking New Perspectives at The Affair PaleyFest Panel

15 Oct

The Affair is not what you would describe as a light show, but there were plenty of laughs to be had at the PaleyFest New York panel this week. Showrunner Sarah Treem and the cast discussed the new season including how adding Helen and Cole’s points of view has expanded the world of the show by offering up four different takes of the overarching story. The general conceit is touched upon with the idea that there is no one ‘true truth’ being offered up and instead we are now getting four different versions of one affair and its impact.

Plus find out which actor gets the most shit in real life about their character (spoiler alert – it is Dominic West).

PaleyFest The AffairThe new POVs mean we get to move beyond the central love story and Dominic West mentions how in the first season Noah and Alison were falling in love and so generally they were on the same page. With Helen and Cole their feelings toward this relationship come from a place of betrayal and so their versions are in contrast; sometimes wildly so as we saw in the mediation and when Cole returns some of Alison’s things. It is no longer a case of spot the difference with clothes, hair style and tone, but a completely different take on an experience.

These extreme differences worked better for me in the second episode in the Cole/Alison encounter because there was a lot of wish fulfillment from Cole’s view; it was all about reconciling this relationship ending in a cordial manner and accepting that it is over. For Alison, Cole is menacing and a bit of a dick; this justifies her decision to leave. The box (which I’m guessing belonged to their child) is absent in Cole’s story and his day was already pretty bleak without this reminder.

Degrees of favorability come up and how generally the best version of a character is in their own story. This isn’t always the case with Joshua Jackson pointing out Cole’s day involves cocaine, drink driving and an aggressive run in with his brother. He also mentions a random blow job, but this scene didn’t make it into the second episode and this is one of the many jovial moments from the panel. While I don’t need The Affair to become all laughs all the time, it would be good if they could inject a sprinkling of the humor as this is a group of actors who have really great chemistry off screen as well as on. From this panel I know I need some more scenes between Cole and Helen; evidence in the photos below.

The Affair PaleyAnd here’s another because this panel really is delightful (plus I am weak when it comes to Joshua Jackson in a sweater).

The Affair PaleyFest panelThe Affair is a show that I find really interesting and infuriating at times in part because of the narrative structure and the storytelling device. This season is already more in the interesting column over infuriating as a result of the new perspectives and giving Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson more to do. Ruth Wilson also points out that Alison’s sadness has been dialed back a bit this year (“for you guys as much as me”) and while some of the standout scenes dealt with Alison’s all consuming grief, this is a welcome move.

Prior to this discussion the PaleyFest audience have just watched the third episode (airing Sunday 18) so there are a couple of ‘huh?’ moments in what they are referencing, but nothing particularly spoilery. Dominic West discusses the challenges of underwater acting so I will be keeping an eye out on his facial expressions during that scene.

At the end the cast are asked which of the other characters they have previously played would they like to see spend a day in The Affair universe and both Ruth Wilson and Maura Tierney come up with funny answers. But I don’t want to spoil it so just watch the panel here for that and enjoy the rest of this lighthearted affair (I will see myself out).

 

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New Season 2 Key Art and Promos for The Affair Offer up New Persepctives 

13 Jul

A couple of weeks ago Showtime released a first look at the new season of The Affair which teased plenty of angst, smooches and a super beardy Joshua Jackson. In that post we discussed the pre-season Emmy interview with Maura Tierney where she mentioned that the number of perspectives would be shifting from the original two with Noah and Alison and expanding to four; adding Cole and Helen to the this narrative device. 

At the time I was thrilled by this news and I still am because my main issue with The Affair’s first season was that I didn’t find Noah and Alison’s relationship all that compelling. And it didn’t help when the season finale dipped into the absurd with explosive confrontations and Noah’s arrest. 

 The new season 2 key art pulls away from the isolated Noah/Alison pairing used for season 1 and physically inserts Cole and Helen into the image as they stare out at us while their exes remain oblivious. The tagline also suggests that just because there are more viewpoints things will not become any clearer. Oh and did I mention Joshua Jackson’s beard? Okay, I did. 

Along with the new artwork Showtime has released a couple of new preview videos which hint at a whole host of conflicts born from this affair; families torn apart and the murder Noah has been accused of committing. From these videos alone I’m feeling a lot more hopeful as to the direction season 2 is going in and I’m particularly excited about the prospect of a lot more Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson. 

Going behind the scenes on the photo shoot with the four core cast and Ruth Wilson asks “Are we doing Friends or are we doing angry friends?” and now I really want to see them sipping milkshakes together or hanging out by a fountain. Plus there are the usual talking heads reminding us where we left off and what is to come. 

Basically I am anticipating this new season way more than I thought I would be after I watched the season 1 finale.

The Affair returns in the fall. 

The Affair Season 2 Teaser: “Do You Honestly Think That Things Just Work Out for the Best?”

30 Jun

The Affair is currently shooting its second season and just in time for maybe Emmy nominations – it did win the Golden Globe after all – a teaser for the new season has been released. In it there is plenty of smooching, crying, yelling and some very disheveled looks.

The Affair S2The amount of viewpoints is expanding from two (Alison and Noah) to four (Helen and Cole join the mix) and this is a good thing because at times during the first year I found it hard to find myself too engaged by the central pairing.

My issue isn’t that they are having an affair (it is in the title of the show after all) or that they didn’t have good chemistry, but I just didn’t care all that much for them as a couple. Out of the pair Alison is by far the most compelling as Noah’s story borders on mid-life crisis cliche and it is his scenes with Helen that really hit some incredibly devastating notes. 

The Affair S2 ColeBy opening up the different viewpoints it takes some of the attention away from Alison and Noah and will give Helen and Cole more depth. Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson both delivered last season while being on the periphery and I am forever in awe of everything Maura Tierney does as she can sell heartbreak with just a look. Now their characters will hopefully become more than just props in the central love story and we will get to see how they view Alison and Noah.

Memory is a big factor and how it can vary from person to person and it will be interesting to see how Helen and Cole’s version mirror or deviate from the kind of experience we have already witnessed.

The Affair S2 HelenPlaying with perceptions of behavior and costume is one of The Affair’s strengths, which goes beyond spot the difference and reveals a whole lot about these characters and how they see the world. By throwing in two more POVs it will expand this further and this is why I am excited for the new season.

From the teaser you can see that things are going really well for a brief moment, but there is going to be a whole lot of confrontations with the exes, tears in the shower and a really striking blue dress from Helen. Oh and that pesky court related business.

Watch the teaser for season 2 of The Affair, which will return in the fall.

Plus here is the always delightful Maura Tierney discussing the expanding viewpoints and Emmy related thoughts with Goldderby.

 

What’s in a Dress on The Affair?

21 Oct

The Affair has many secrets it is yet to divulge including the identity of the person who has been killed and why the police want to talk to Noah and Alison about their relationship in so much depth. It is a show that begs to be watched more than once from the way scenarios change and the dialogue differs in both perspectives. It is a spot the difference if you will and this goes beyond the words that are said with hairstyles and clothing differing in each version of events. I’m going to focus in on the latter and the dress Helen wore to the fancy soiree at her father’s house in the second episode.

At this point we don’t know if Alison or Noah is reliable in their recollections as there are enough discrepancies to suggest both have inaccurate memories. Or they are both lying. Or one of them has a better memory. The other thing to remember is this is also a matter of perspective so Alison comes across as sexier in Noah’s version, whereas in her own retelling of the story her dress and mannerisms are far more tempered around him. By looking at how they view the secondary characters we can also learn more about Noah and Alison, which is where Helen and her dress come in.

The Affair 1.02 which dressHelen asks her husband’s opinion regarding which dress she should wear with Noah picking the one that looks slinkier and with a whole lot of plunge and cut outs. Helen instead picks the more covered up simple dress and this is the one we see her wearing at the party. Helen looks pretty, but there is nothing about this outfit that suggests she is a woman who comes from money. Noah’s side of the story reveals Helen to be a good mom who isn’t really anything like her parents (who he clearly despises) and while they’re still sexually active they constantly get interrupted by the kids. There is no time for just them and any excitement Noah once had about this relationship is now gone; he even turns down her shower suggesting as he’s too busy masturbating to thoughts of Alison. Which, urgh Noah you’re wife seems pretty great to be honest and you’re just feeling restless about the life you are living. This projection of his wife could also be coming from a place of guilt and so the version of Helen we are seeing is everything good.

The Affair 1.02 Noah and HelenAt the party the woman Helen’s father had an affair with is there and Noah listens while Helen has a mini meltdown about this intrusion. Later in a move that maybe makes Noah feel emasculated (so much eye rolls towards Noah’s discomfort in this scene); Helen tries to big up his second book while also complimenting his less commercial first novel. Alison delivers a whisky to Noah in this scene and there is no interaction between Helen and Alison, not even an acknowledgement they have met before. This could be Noah separating the two women in his life as best he can.

The Affair 1.02 dress fixingWhen we see this scene take place from Alison’s side there is not only interaction, but the same level of intrusive comments from the rich to the wait staff as if they think they have the right to make overly long remarks about personal tragedy (Helen’s mother to Alison) and to fix Alison’s dress in front of everyone with an unsubtle reference to the tightness. It is both patronizing and humiliating with a strong whiff of belittling. Helen is cut from the same summer folk cloth as her mother to Alison; the precise demands she makes about the glass of water (no ice) and a very thin sliver of cake sounds so utterly specific and ridiculous. Helen is stood on the opposite side of the table to her husband, rather than by his side and everything in part two suggests there is no closeness between husband and wife.

The Affair 1.02 Alison's versionThis is clear in the interaction Alison witnesses above and it is a hostile looking conversation between Helen and Noah. Helen’s dress is far more opulent here and she looks like a woman of money in her stance and styling. There is nothing approachable about Helen in this scenario and something as simple as an updo can make a character look frosty in comparison to the no fuss hair down approach of Helen in the first part. Alison’s hair also changes between the two; Noah remembers it being down and flirty (maybe Noah thinks of women with their hair down) whereas it is tied back when Alison recalls this evening.

It’s funny that I was leaning towards Alison being the more reliable unreliable narrator up to the point where she paints Helen as just another rich lady bitch and my sympathy at this point is very much with Helen. Maybe this is because I really like Maura Tierney, but also because up to this interpretation of her she seems pretty great. Of course this could be Noah romanticizing the woman he is stepping out on and the mother of his children and in the same respect Alison might be painting her in a more negative light to ease her guilt.

For another spouse comparison here is how Noah sees Cole as the cowboy and super macho dude:

The Affair 1.02 Cowboy ColeLater Noah comments that “married people don’t fuck like that” adding further credence to this idea that Noah’s perspective of Cole is all about masculinity and excitement.

The Affair 1.02 ColeTo Alison, Cole on the same day looks like the surfer dude from the first episode in a Henley and sans cowboy hat. The change of top could simply be that Cole was all sweaty from working and horse riding and yet it is notable because they look like two very different kinds of people in these shots.

The narrative set up on The Affair is disorientating because it isn’t clear at this point exactly what is going on or what is motivating Noah and Alison in the present day scenes. Costume projects an image telling us more about the character in question and because clothing is being used to show differing perspectives on this show it adds another level of intrigue; sometimes the changes are subtle with how well something fits and at other points such as Helen’s party dress the discrepancies are far bigger. Maybe Helen wore neither of those dresses to the party and we might end up seeing a third version of this pivotal event showing what really occurred.

 

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