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'The Affair' returns to Showtime and its characters are as screwed up as ever

By california scoop / Published on Tuesday, 12 Jun 2018 03:11 AM / No Comments / 16 views
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Showtime’s “The Affair” spends its new season delving into whether people can change — or at least stop screwing up their lives.

“That’s what season four will be exploring,” says Sarah Treem, who with Hagai Levi created the popular series that returns Sunday at 9 p.m.

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From the beginning, “The Affair” has revolved around a chance liaison between Noah (Dominic West), a successful author, and Alison (Ruth Wilson), a waitress.

Their affair blew up Noah’s marriage to Helen (Maura Tierney), with whom Noah had four children. It also ruined Alison’s marriage to Cole (Joshua Jackson), a union that produced one son who died at age 4 in an accident.

Ruth Wilson as Alison in "The Affair," season 4.

Ruth Wilson as Alison in “The Affair,” season 4. (Patrick Wymore/Showtime)

The show, from the beginning, has split episodes into two halves, each from the perspective of one character. It has shown that two people can see the same events very differently.

What Alison saw as Noah coming on to her, for instance, Noah saw as Alison teasing and flirting.

Now, several years later, Helen has moved from New York to Los Angeles to be with her new doctor boyfriend Vic (Omar Metwally). Noah has followed her to be closer to the kids. Cole has a new wife, Luisa (Catalina Sandino Moreno), and Alison is adrift.

Omar Metwally as Vic and Maura Tierney as Helen in the upcoming season of "The Affair."

Omar Metwally as Vic and Maura Tierney as Helen in the upcoming season of “The Affair.” (Paul Sarkis/Showtime)

“They’re trying to move on,” Treem tells The News, but on TV as in life, that’s not always easy.

“These are four complicated people trying their best,” she says, “when sometimes their best isn’t good at all.”

In fact, all four have at times behaved like jerks, which is part of the premise.

“There’s a tendency on television to reduce and simplify characters,” Treem says. “We wanted to show three-dimensional people. Everybody’s a bit of a jerk sometimes. We didn’t want anyone to have been given a good reason to ruin a marriage.”

Still, the original affair didn’t come out of nowhere.

“Noah was unhappy,” Treem says. “He was unsatisfied and didn’t know what to do. If he could do it over, maybe Noah 2.0 would go into therapy.

“Cole and Alison were headed for something, because of what happened with their son. The question for them was whether any relationship can survive that kind of tragedy. At the same time, there was a deep love there. What Cole still really wants is to make everything go back to the way it was.”

Life, however, has moved on. There have been arguments, threats, breakups, family rifts. Dramas this season include Luisa’s immigration status, which Treem acknowledges could make the show brush up against real life. “We touch on some topical issues,” she says. “But that’s never been and won’t be the focus.”

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Joshua Jackson as Cole and Catalina Sandino Moreno as Luisa in "The Affair," season 4 .

Joshua Jackson as Cole and Catalina Sandino Moreno as Luisa in “The Affair,” season 4 . (Christopher Saunders/SHOWTIME)

A few storylines have bordered on the extreme. When an impaired Helen ran down and killed Cole’s brother Scott with her SUV, Noah took the rap and did jail time.

Hey, it’s television.

“Things can get a little soapish,” Treem agrees. “Or a lot soapish.

“But this is a relationship drama. It’s not sci-fi or anything else. It’s about characters, so you’re always looking for a balance. You want to keep the show exciting and fresh, and at the same time to feel real.”

Since Treem says she expects the show to wrap up with season five, Noah, Helen, Alison and Cole have about 20 more episodes to show whether they can parlay a dicey past into a better future.

“We have our endpoint in mind,” Treem says. “We know how we’re going to wrap things up, which is not to say everyone will necessarily live happily ever after. But we’ll have had a beginning, middle and an end.”



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