Showtime Orders Two New Series: The Affair With Dominic West and Joshua Jackson, and Happyish With Philip Seymour Hoffman

By Jen Trolio

Jan 16, 2014

Showtime has ordered two new shows with some pretty bomb casts: The Affair, starring Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney, and Joshua Jackson, and Happyish, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathryn Hahn, and Rhys Ifans. The network previewed both series during its executive session at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour this morning (alas, they aren't releasing the trailers at this time), and both of them look pretty good! 

On paper, The Affair (pictured above) sounds like ABC's Betrayal, but with a fancier cast, more nudity, and most importantly, much better writing. It's an "intense exploration of two marriages and the affair that disrupts them," which Showtime president David Nevins said is part of an effort "to counter the current trend of many premium dramas that get bigger and more lavish in size and scope." The one-hour drama from executive producers Sarah Treem (House of CardsIn Treatment) and Hagai Levi (In Treatment), and director Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights), will present both the male and female perspectives of marital infidelity, taking "memory bias" into account in order "to both misdirect and intrigue." Here's the set-up: Ruth Wilson plays Alison, a waitress in the Hamptons who's trying to recover from an as-yet-unknown tragedy. She's married to Pacey I mean Joshua Jackson, whose character Cole is struggling to save his family ranch from collapsing under financial strife. Things get complicated when Alison starts doin' it with McNulty I mean Dominic West; West plays Noah, a teacher and aspiring novelist from New York who's spending the summer in the Hamptons with his wife of 17 years, played by Maura Tierney. There will be sex! There will be outdoor showers! There will be dramaaaaaaa!

Happyish is a comedy starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Thom Payne, a 42-year-old creative type who's feeling the strain of having a new boss who's half his age and constantly uses buzzwords like "digital" and "social." Kathryn Hahn (one of my favorite funny people!) plays Thom's wife Lee, and Rhys Ifans plays his mentor Jonathan, who encourages Thom to "rebrand thyself." Thus begins Thom's pursuit of the happiness that might be what's making him miserable in the first place; Nevins called it a perfect show for our current world of "25-year-old CEOs and 27-year-old billionaires." I have to say, this one looks pretty excellent: Highlights from the trailer shown during the session included a rant against Mark Zuckerberg's smiling mug, Louis C.K. making a cameo to pimp C.K.-branded sneakers, a psychedelic freakout in which it was implied that a Keebler Elf committed suicide, and Hoffman screaming to a room full of coworkers, "I have to go to the bathroom, and if anyone's Pinterested, they can follow my fuckin' asshole on Twitter!"

Both The Affair and Happyish will run for 10 episodes, though no premiere dates have been set. Nevins said the earliest we can expect either show would be this summer, but both will hit the air within the next year. 

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  • Sanity_Bleeds Jan 17, 2014

    The Affair sounds incredibly bland and uninspired. Granted, Happyish doesn't sound that groundbreaking either, but it has Hoffman in it, so I'll probably watch it regardless.

  • DavidJackson8 Jan 16, 2014

    For a second there, I thought it said "Ruth Wilson plays Alice" and I immediately pulled out my best Jim Mora impression and said "SPINOFF?! Don't talk about -- SPINOFF?!"

    Anyway, I have a weird relationship with Showtime. I watch plenty of their shows, and for a brief while, I thought they may have been my favorite network (back when Dexter and Weeds were good). But then FX and AMC took over and now I consider most Showtime shows crapped out.

    The Affair sounds bad and just generally not my cup o' tea, but I like the cast so I'll probably try it out.
    I'll definitely try out Happyish, though.

  • soapieaddict23 Jan 16, 2014

    The Affair does not look like a show I would normally even consider watching, but I love Joshua Jackson and Ruth Wilson, damn it!

  • dodge_hickey Jan 16, 2014

    Philip Seymour Hoffman is an great actor, I always skeptical about Showtime though.

  • wudntulik2know Jan 16, 2014

    Bingo and bingo. Showtime Fucking Lumberjacks shows.

    By some fluke, I saw PSH and John C. Reilly in the play True West a thousand years ago, and KNEW they were both destined for greatness.

  • dodge_hickey Jan 16, 2014

    I only watch 4 seasons of Dexter and 2 episodes of Masters of Sex (Lizzy Caplan naked guys! How could you not ;-) ). None of the other shows they aired kept me after the pilot (that includes Homeland).

  • AndreaMcCooey Jan 16, 2014

    Both of these sound great!

  • Carla-Wexler Jan 16, 2014

    I still hate Showtime for killing united states of tara and replacing it with, WTF!

    On the other hand they gave me weeds, nurse jackie, the big c, shameless and masters of sex. All of them which I like(d). So I guess we'll see when they bring it!

  • thekaitling Jan 17, 2014

    I don't really think you say they replaced it with Gigolos... given the "reality" nature of Gigolos.

  • wudntulik2know Jan 16, 2014

    Really, you liked Tara? That got too weird even for me. But at least it was no Enlightened. But you should know by now Showtime sucks, they kept Dexter alive when he should have had a bullet through his head.

    Weeds turned out stupid, don't you think? She should have died, too.

  • Carla-Wexler Jan 16, 2014

    I loved Tara! I also loved Enlightened. It should've gotten another season at least. i think the show really started to find itself towards the end of season 2.

    I never got into Dexter and seeing people reaction to the show's final seasons, I guess I didn't miss out on anything. Btw, Michael C Hall will always be David Fisher to me! Six Feet Under will always be my number one show. I miss it so much :(

    As for weeds, I stuck with it to the very bitter end. It did go downhill somewhere around season 5. Season 1-3 were definitely the best ones. It never became as good as it was in the days of agrestic. Also, Celia was one of the best characters ever, so when she left it really become a bore.

  • wudntulik2know Jan 16, 2014

    Wow. Dominic West AND Philip Seymour Hoffman??? Is West keeping his accent, or is he doing his House imitation?

    PSH is beyond wonderful. Why are these wonderful actors doing television? Oh yeah, the money.

    At least they are a limited run. This way Showtime can't cancel them and they can't Fucking Lumberjack them.

  • Mj_ps3 Jan 16, 2014

    Philip Seymour Hoffman and Katherine Hahn, count me in. !

  • tamaabi Jan 16, 2014

    I like the sound of both and will definitely give them a shot!
    Happyish could be the next amazing thing like it could be a total waste of time, but hey, PSH, there's gotta be something to this show.
    imo, the title The Affair already speaks of way better things than a title like Betrayal.

  • ben45tpy Jan 16, 2014

    I'm always apprehensive when I hear about new Showtime shows because sometimes it seems like their desire to push boundaries gets in the way of just creating good shows, with their view successes seeming like accidents rather than deserved.

    However these both sound really good. I read through The Affair synopsis and was like blah blah blah Pacey hmmm blah blah and then I saw Hagai Levi was involved and suddenly I know this show will be magnificent, the guy is a genius. Meanwhile Happyish sounds pretty original and Hoffman is such a great actor it should work well. One thing though, I thought it was strange that a show about dealing with a boss didn't credit the boss' character.