The Affair, an excellent show about the nuances and complications of infidelity and self-identity interspersed with fuckloads of sex scenes, commenced its second season last night, expanding its two-person perspective to four by including the viewpoints of spurned spouses Helen and Cole.
With this perspective, the show also brought us its first dick shot, a banner moment in a show that is actually fairly conservative with total nudity for the amount of boning that goes on, usually showing mostly the lovely sculpted derriere of Noah Solloway (Dominic West). Sir West, have you been taking barre classes, my friend?
For the Season 2 premiere, Helen (Maura Tierney) finally got her chance to have a little fun. [SPOILERS COMMENCE NOW.] At this point in the show’s meandering timeline, Helen and Noah are mid-divorce and she has taken up with Noah’s best friend Max (Josh Stamberg [son of Susan!]), the business magnate who was clearly obsessed with her last season.
After some very no-chill sex in a hotel that looks like the Standard, Max orders up some breakfast, demanding Helen’s fruit plate is to his liking cause his hotel group just bought this particular holding. The dick shot comes when he drops the cheeky line that they’re in “Penthouse D, like dog.” Then he pulls the kind of James Cameron “I’m the King of the World” move that I imagine all very rich white businessmen in their mid-40s do every single day, gazing nude out onto the city in which they own so much and gloating in their own power. (We all have aspirations; doing this during a staycation one day is mine.)
Maura Tierney explained to E! how the scene came about—and it was unscripted, with executive producer Jeff Reiner pushing for it “more than Sarah Treem”:
“It’s a big jump ahead for the character. What’s she doing—does it have a revenge element to it or is this person really just a comfort to her and has clearly loved her for a long time? I like that they skipped right to that sex, so you don’t really know what’s going on.”
Josh Stamberg stans can probably relax a little though—that wasn’t actually his pénet, according to Dominic West:
“Do you know how they shot that? It’s fucking funny... I don’t know why they decided they wanted a full-frontal male, but I thought it was so funny. He gets up out of bed, with his ass to camera and he crosses the camera... and then the stand-in just steps in. This completely different guy who had to have his dick inspected. [Laughs.]”
Thank you, penile stand-in and dick inspector. Your presence takes us just a little further in nudie equality on prestige television, and also projects a vulnerability in the The Affair that articulates its message of human messiness and grey-area morality.
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Image via screenshot/Showtime.