All affairs eventually end, but not always on their own terms. Showtime announced on Thursday that “The Affair” has been renewed for its fifth and final season, and the timing could be the best outcome for the Golden Globe-winning drama.
Beginning with one indiscretion that eventually becomes the center of a dramatic maelstrom resulting in multiple divorces, a vehicular homicide, arson, restaurant franchising, and no shortage of windswept beaches, “The Affair” is midway through its fourth season. The bed-hopping stories of Noah (Dominic West), Alison (Ruth Wilson), Helen (Maura Tienery), and Cole (Joshua Jackson) have not only traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast for several storylines this year set in California, but even added yet another point-of-view to the show’s highly subjective storytelling. Episode 5 features the perspective of Helen’s partner Vic (Omar Metwally) as he copes with his family, relationship, and newfound responsibilities in the face of some life-changing news.
In the renewal announcement, Showtime’s Gary Levine said, “We love the intimacy, the nuance, and the emotional honesty of ‘The Affair’s’ subjective examination of both infidelity and fidelity. Sarah Treem has always envisioned this as a five-season series, and we will be fascinated to see where she takes her talented cast and all of us next year in its climactic season.”
There’s hard evidence of this being the case, stretching back to the showrunner’s very first interviews regarding the show. She told IndieWire in 2014, just as Season 1 was about to premiere:
I’ve planned three seasons in outline format. And then I have a vague idea of what a fourth or fifth season could look like. When I pitched it to them, I pitched it in three seasons. I think David Nevins wants it to go longer, but three seasons was enough for him to greenlight the show.
Of course, things evolve with time, and there’s no question “The Affair” has lost some of its luster since the award-winning original season, thanks to some plotting that’s pushed the show into pure soap opera territory and an unfortunate emphasis on certain characters over others. However, it still has one of TV’s most talented ensemble casts, and its bold approach to storytelling — including a steadfast refusal to ever definitively say one person is telling more of the truth than the other — maintains its status as fascinating viewing.
“The Affair” Season 4 airs new episodes Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.