Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Affair and narrative technique

Has anyone ever watched or into Showtime's The Affair? I'm probably late to the party, but we just watched the pilot yesterday in TV Script Analysis and I'm still mulling on the narrative strategy and how it articulates issues of gender and sexuality.

Basically the first half of each episode is from the perspective of the male protagonist, and then the second half is from the female protagonist's perspective and is interspersed in the "present time" with an investigation. Perspective is everything on this show, and how each person remembers the events of their first meeting. In HIS memory, she's overtly sexualized, flirty and forward.  In her memory, she's grieving the loss of her son and struggling with her husband.  As the viewer, we get to experience both and juxtapose the two stories against each other. We are a participant in both stories.



  1. I wrote a paper on The Affair last semester based on the narrative and visual pleasure ~ took a bit from feminist theory and TV genre and feminist criticism

  2. ...and Stefania gave a great presentation on The Affair! It was so persuasive that I watched a few episodes, and I was also really interested in how it worked to call attention to a male's objectifying gaze upon a woman. The counter-narrative of the female felt like an attempt to identify the problematic nature of a man's memory of a shared experience. Therein lies my issue with the duel narratives: the female perspective was positioned as the "counter" narrative--not THE narrative or A narrative. In all the episodes I saw (and I'll admit, I fell off the bandwagon), her point of view followed his point of viewer, and therefore seemed to occupy this "other" space. So, while watching a single episode from beginning to end, I felt like her experiences was an alternative to the main (male) narrative because his experience was privileged first. I don't know that order was consistent throughout the entire seasons--I image the writers switched it up--but that was my initial impression.

    1. It's interesting because I was interested in the series in a very formal, film studies kind of way -- so it worked out as a good TV talk for a film theory class, but I also wonder if making the woman the counter narrative is also a commentary on the fact that women is usually not a narrative at all - the femme fatale character gets her own perspective too. It wasn't easy to follow the show throughout the whole season..had its ups and downs too but in the end it proved fascinating. Sigh I still want to do that reception studies project on it sometime!

  3. I also tried to watch The Affair and fell off. I made through 6 episodes, and for me the dual narratives started to get repetitive. It was cool and interesting at first to watch the male gaze vs. her perception of events, but after awhile, neither seemed to be an authentic retelling of what happened. I just wanted to strip it away and watch an unfettered account of what was going on. When I got to episode 6, I felt like I didn't have an interest in either character. I disliked both of the main characters. The only person I liked was Maura Tierney from ER and she didn't get enough screentime to keep me interested.