​The Affair, TV review: Sweary, messy, compelling - and plenty more to come

This cleverly-scripted series is populated with complex characters who speak, fight and have sex like real people

Sally Newall
Thursday 29 October 2015 00:55
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Ruth Wilson and Dominic West in 'The Affair'
Ruth Wilson and Dominic West in 'The Affair'

The Affair's back and, going on this opening double bill, the Showtime drama is nailing the tricky second season. Nailing, in the colloquial sense of the word, is a recurring theme of this cleverly-scripted series populated with complex characters who speak, fight and have sex like real people. It's sweary, messy stuff, and God, it's compelling.

In the first run, we heard the story from the perspective of unreliable narrators Noah (Dominic West) and Alison (Ruth Wilson) recounting their affair on Montauk, Long Island. In this, we got four viewpoints, also hearing from their wronged spouses. It felt like it was always the plan, to give Joshua Jackson, who plays Alison’s husband Cole, and Maura Tierney as Helen Solloway the chance to flex more of their acting muscle. And it’s some muscle, particularly Tierney as bitter but conflicted Helen fighting Noah, her mother, four kids and new love interest (Noah’s pal Max) on different fronts.

Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’

Noah and Alison's hideaway in the Hudson Valley provided an arresting new setting (warning: this show will make you want to emigrate), and there were still the interesting discrepancies in narration. Noah remembered Alison in her floaty boho Montauk clothes, but when Cole turned up to his version of the scene, he recalled her with groomed hair and an expensive-looking wardrobe. Rather than feel gimmicky, this device gives us more insight into the character's pysches. With flashes to a future with Noah banged up and Alison left holding the baby, there's plenty to come and I can't wait.

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