Beverly Hills -- "The Affair," a Showtime newcomer arriving in October and starring Ruth Wilson and Dominic West, will be shot over the full 10-episode season in Montauk, showrunner Sarah Treem said yesterday.
And yes - that is unusual because the Hamptons and points east are considered (in fact are) enormously expensive places to shoot a series, while other LI-based series, like "Royal Pains" will use various locales throughout Long Island, even though the series is presumably meant to take place entirely on the Eest End. Treem, former writer and producer along with her "co" on "The Affair," Hagai Levi, of the much-esteemed "In Treatment," said Friday that she chose to set the new series in Montauk because "I kind of grew up out there, and I just loved it. So to me, it’s a very romantic place. It’s really a place that exists in memory in my own head and I think of this as a memory play."
Montauk indeed does have a starring role here -- plenty of beauty shots, while a long stretch of beach gets its close-up, so to speak, in the premiere. (And while beaches can look generic -- you know, sand -- Treem said that this is not a North Carolina stand-in but the real deal: Montauk...)
What do we know of "The Affair?" That it's a very compelling and nicely complicated yarn about an affair that a novelist conducts with a waitress who works at a local diner (both married...) It explores in considerable depth their points of view -- deploying a structure in the pilot not unlike "True Detective," in which both protagonists are recalling the "affair" as part of an interrogation by cops who are conducting (perhaps) a criminal investigation. Reasons for this investigation are not revealed in the pilot, although Treem said viewers will learn quickly what's going on.
But here's the key: Both Wilson's character (she plays the waitress) and West's (he is the novelist) have dramatically different recollections, shaded by various factors -- notwithstanding the fundamental unreliability of human memory. As mentioned...interesting.
Here's what Treem had to say about what she and Levi are striving for here: "I’m super interested in gender and how men and women tell stories and think about stories, actually. I mean, I sort of believe that men and women have kind of different life narratives that’s sort of very defined by biology, but different ways in which we see, we think of how to tell a story.
"So that was very much a part of how we were originally talking and conceptualizing this show. And Hagai is a man; I’m a woman. So it was interesting even just having those initial conversations about two couples in an affair and whose side either of us were on. What I’ve tried to do really stringently in the writing of the show is not judge either character, though. We kind of go into it believing that these were two good people who were committed to their marriages [Wilson's character is married to a boorish dude played by Joshua Jackson] -- that they weren’t serial philanderers.
"They weren’t looking to destroy anybody else’s happiness. And then by chance, they’re both in very vulnerable places, and by chance, they meet somebody who they ultimately come to think is their true love. So what do they do? And I think the way that she handles it is different than the way he handles it because of their genders, but I think they’re both in the same situation. They both have the same problem."