Wednesday, November 6, 2019

An “Affair” to Remember?

There are spoilers in this review.

When I first watched the series finale of The Affair, missing the first 30 minutes and falling asleep during the next 60, I thought it was the most howlingly bad 60 minutes I’d ever seen. I was quickly taken to task by Affair fans on Twitter, who were calling it the best season finale they’d ever seen. I thought, “Did we watch the same show?” So I watched it again last night. (Showtime didn’t make it available on demand, so I had to tape the next airing.) My verdict: maybe not the worst 60 minutes I’d ever seen, but corny, cheesy and sentimental? Abso-fuckin-lutely! In fact, there were several moments when I literally put my face in my palm or shouted “No!” at my TV set.
A perfect example of this was when Helen was giving a dramatic monologue about her marriage in Noah’s motel room and Noah offered her a Pringles potato chip. Real life moment? Product placement? Either way, it took me out of the story.
One of the reasons why The Affair was such a “love to hate” was that it could be profound one moment and completely off the wall the next.
To say that there was an effort to tie up a lot of loose ends in the series finale would be an understatement. Some of the coincidences that occurred strained one’s credulity, even by The Affair standards. Most glaring was finding out that Joanie’s hook-up, E.J. was the son of her father’s first wife’s second husband and his mistress. Huh?!
Next was the fact that Noah and Helen got back together after five seasons of acrimony, divorce and new marriages/relationships.
I think it was Olympia Dukakis’s character in Moonstruck who, when asked why men cheat, said “fear of death.” That was the ostensible theme thrust upon this final episode, but it seemed to come out of nowhere.
Also coming out of nowhere: that “flash mob” dance sequence to The Waterboys’ “Whole of the Moon.” (When did Noah become a choreographer?)
There was such an effort to tie up loose ends that when Whitney and her bridal party discovered her parents having sex at the motel, it was presented as “quaint” rather than the shock I’m sure it would have been for most children. (My middle-aged parents still have sex? After a divorce, no less?)
And let’s not forget Joanie, one of the most hated characters on television, reuniting with her husband at the end of a poorly developed subplot.
This is why I’m still fulminating about The Affair, the show I’ve loved to hate for the last five years, three days after its series finale.
And I’ll be damned if I can’t get that song out of my head!

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