The Affair Season 1 Review – A compelling character drama with a mystery twist

Extramarital affair, Death of a child off-screen, Self-harm, Gun violence, Moderate violence, Drugs, Statutory rape off-screen.

I wasn’t so sure of this at the beginning, The Affair intrigued me but I didn’t realize it could be anything more than a story about a love affair. However, I was very wrong, as it is a complex relationship drama that hides a mystery at the centre of it.

Following a struggling novelist, Noah, who strikes up an extra-martial affair with a waitress, Alison, in the seaside town he is visiting with his family. This affair that at first seems to be a short-lived diversion for both of them, promises to change the course of their lives forever.

This series is interesting for many reasons, but what I liked most about it is the way the story is told in The Affair. The two main characters tell their sides of the story in two segments. But it’s not just a duplicate of one story, but it’s from their unique perspectives. So sometimes the events changes, or the dialogue or clothes. And in each segment, you learn how they see each other but also how they see themselves. Undoubtedly this series starts with an affair but there is much more to the story.

In the first episode, it shows the two main characters Alison and Noah being questioned separately by a police detective. We have no idea why or what the supposed crime that is being investigated, but you get the sense that it is very serious. Both Noah and Alison seem to be at the centre of it and the detective is clearly suspicious of their stories. I have to say at times, this series is not an easy story to watch. It’s not much the content as sometimes the raw emotions that get to you in The Affair.

And unlike in many types of media, where it’s an advertisement for the town – The Affair brings the visuals of the town as a part of the atmosphere. It seems that there is this melancholy fog that swallows the characters. There are no bright colours, just muted hues. And although it’s a coastal town, it always seems to be in the autumn there. But this perfectly matches up with the story that is being told.

They really delve into the fractured relationships within The Affair. No one has an affair in a vacuum, and they really show the complications that arise from this betrayal. People are hurt throughout and it is not just the spouses, but all the other relationships within their circle of friends and families. Though Noah and Alison are the stars of the show, the rest of the characters are rich and fully fleshed out.

The acting is superb by both Dominic West and Ruth Wilson, who have to play two different characters in one single episode, not an easy feat. Sometimes Noah is a lech having a mid-life crisis, other times he has become disillusioned by the life he thought he wanted. Alison can be a kinky minx who needs saving or a woman who is just struggling to stay afloat with her emotions and trying to escape them at the same time. And somewhere in the middle is the truth.

Each episode of The Affair unfolds with a new piece of the puzzle of the crime we are being led to ever so slowly. The sense of impending doom, that is created is so subtle but ever-present – it’s almost suffocating. The finale of the first season was the edge of your seat gripping, and I am so excited to see what happens next.

The Affair is a compelling character drama with a mystery twist, which cannot be missed.

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