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 Cards, In 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.