Family ‘Affair’ For Showtime’s Showrunner

Season three of The Affair has gotten underway on Showtime, and showrunner Sarah Treem is hoping she’ll get to tell her tangled and at times twisted story for a few more seasons. We chatted a bit during TCA’s press tour a few months back, including a bit about how much longer the series will continue. “Whenever I say it, I get into trouble,” Treem quipped. “It’s not up to me, it’s up to Showtime. Hopefully we’ll get two more after this one, but I don’t know.” 

Showtime, which hasn't commented on seasons beyond the new one, is giving subscribers and non-subscribers alike a chance to catch up on the series. Subscribers could stream the second episode of the new season right after the premiere Nov. 20, and non-subscribers can watch the premiere—albeit the TV-14 version—on YouTube and  

Season three sees Noah, played by Dominic West, get his comeuppance. It picks up three years after he claimed responsibility for a hit and run and did hard time for it. Says the New York Times

For two seasons, Noah Solloway was the resident punisher in The Affair, the Showtime drama about a novelist who leaves his moneyed wife for a waitress grieving the death of her son—and spins the experience into a best seller.

But my how the tables have turned.

Comments West: “It’s a show that very much deals with people in extremity, and this season it seems to be poor old Noah, which is obviously quite interesting to play.”

His co-star, Maura Tierney, was nominated for a best supporting actress Emmy this year.  

Treem said the biggest challenge of running the show is time management, especially with two small children at home. “It’s a 25 hour, eight day a week job,” said Treem, a playwright before her TV career took hold (she also wrote for House of Cards). “You’re holding your head above water, trying to stay focused so you don’t get so exhausted that you make bad decisions.”

Treem mentioned a story about her husband, Jay Carson, who was Hillary Clinton’s press secretary in 2008. By the end of the day on the campaign trail, Clinton’s aides would be ready to drop from exhaustion, yet Clinton would still be raring to go. 

“It’s incredibly gratifying—it’s your show and your characters, your story and your soul on the page,” she said. “That feeds you.”

We also spoke a bit about diversity, which was a dominant theme at the TCA get-together in August, and will be again in January. Having four white leads in the show makes it a challenge, Treem concedes, but she says women have a strong role off screen. “It’s important to me to have a writers staff that’s half men and half women,” she says, “since the show is about the difference in a lot of ways in gender perspectives.”

That extends beyond the writers room. “I’ve found that the more women I put in leadership roles,” says Treem, “for whatever reason, the show functions better.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.