The Affair from beginning to end. This is the term I use for a show that I can't quit, but that I also yell at throughout. The series was also one of the few shows the H-bomb and I watch together, so we had to stick with it. Don't get me wrong, it had its merits but after Sunday's finale, here are my overall assessments. There are spoilers below, DUH.
#1 I still don't understand why anyone would cheat on Joshua Jackson AKA Cole.
I totally get that losing a child can destroy a marriage (ahem, cop out justification for main character's actions) BUT aside from the completely unnecessary plot turn of Cole secretly dealing cocaine-- he seemed like a pretty stand up husband. In the words of Emily Nussbaum's New Yorker review: he's the kind of guy you cheat with, not on. I think the writers really underestimated the power of Joshua Jackson and really overestimated the power of Dominick West (who just doesn't look as hot as he did in The Wire). In the words of my Facebook friend Ed Johnson "Cole throws you over the hood of a truck and gives you great sex. While that other one talks you to death."
#2 Wait, are we supposed to want Noah and Alison together?
I feel like the show was being written in a way where the writers expected us to rejoice once it was revealed that Alison and Noah not only end up together, but also have a child together. Is anyone actually rooting for these two? Is no one as grossed out by them as I am? Am I too black and white about these things? Does anyone else think it's super cheesy that Noah is rich now from his book? Do you know how freaking rare that is? I was actually happy when the police knocked on Noah's door and arrested him. I don't find anything redeeming about the leads of the show. Also, I almost puked in my lap when after the ridiculous "Cole has a gun!" scene, Noah stayed behind to comfort his mistress instead of his wife and daughter.
#3 Which might be why the supporting characters on this show are SO much more interesting.
The two best scenes in the series happened in the penultimate episode. The first was when Cole's mom (played by Mare Winningham of St. Elmo's Fire fame) blamed Alison for the death of her son. The second was when Helen (Maura Tierney) kicked Noah out of the house after he told her he was in love with Alison. Both scenes were carried by supporting players and were wholly satisfying because the two characters I'm not too high on got their comeuppance.
#4 Why does Helen have to suck so bad?
If Cole seems too perfect, then Helen is almost too imperfect. It makes things way too easy for Noah. The moral dilemma would be so much more interesting if she had a few redeeming qualities and wasn't written as such an uptight WASP. And the finale crapped all over the scene when she kicks Noah out by having her beg for him to come back. I know four months had passed off camera, but it didn't feel earned at all. Side observation: remember how Helen told Noah that he liked the way she was when they first met? Well, did you guys notice that Alison totally looks more like a "Helen" by the end when she's with Noah? There's some Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo shit going on there if you ask me.
#5 Alison is a cutter.
Right, because I've never seen that before in a shit-ton of movies and TV shows. This one just had more blood.
#6 Part One: Noah, Part Two: Nobody Cares.
At first, the whole Rashomon aspect of the show seemed like an intriguing storytelling device, but after a few episodes in, it became kind of pointless and repetitive. We get it. There's multiple sides to every story. Memory is not dependable. People lie, etc etc. But the varying narratives virtually had no pay off except that we got to see Alison in two different outfits every time. In fact, I would go as far as saying they limited the storytelling and made the sub-plots kind of blah. No one cares who killed Scottie, but maybe if we got to watch some scenes of him and Noah's daughter, it would carry a little more weight. Especially since Noah and Scottie were both making very questionable decisions about who they slept with.
#7 So who killed Scottie?
I'm going to guess it was Helen or Whitney (Noah's daughter) and season two will focus on whether Noah will destroy his new family at the expense of protecting his old one. Which is all fine and good, but I always thought if Noah and Alison ended up together, the series should explore how getting what you want isn't all its cracked up to be. There's a huge difference between having an affair with someone (the secrets, the sneaking around, the hot sex) and being married to someone (the bills, the mundane, the morning sex). That to me is so much more interesting than who killed a character no one really cared about anyway.
Okay, that's my vent session. I will probably keep watching season two. I learned my lesson after getting SO mad at Homeland last season that I refused to watch this year only to have everyone tell me it was freaking amazing. Plus, the sex scenes are hot.