Who do you believe?
The Affair, Showtime's gripping drama that tells the story of an affair and a murder from two different narratives, has inspired a lot of debate and theorizing since its debut. So much, in fact, that we are even calling it the new Lost, because every single person who watches has a theory. And they will argue that their theory is right until they are blue in the face...or until their fingers cramp up from typing out so many tweets about it. Is Noah (Dominic West) telling the truth or utilizing his storytelling skills to make for a better narrative? Should we trust the fragile Alison (Ruth Wilson)? Or, you know, should we just not believe either of them?
Heading into Sunday's season finale (The Affair, which was nominated for three Golden Globes has been picked up for a second season), there is one fan theory making its way around the Internet that we can officially shut down as we brought it straight to The Affair's creator Sarah Treem.
"There's this one that keeps going around that half of the reality is Noah's book and the other half is reality. People think that Noah's side is his book and her side is what really happened," Treem says. "I think that's a really fascinating theory, but it's not right! [Laughs.]"
Treem was equally as amused by another popular belief among some fans: Noah is telling the truth because of the insane amount of money he will pay for things, namely artisanal jam and souvenir t-shirts.
"[Laughs.] That's a really funny theory. But you know, like totally. Who knows how much the jam was, but no one wants to remember playing 40 dollars for jam," she says. "But it is really expensive. And especially in Montauk? Artisan Hamptons jam? Can't get more expensive!"
Jam jokes aside, all of theorizing adds up to one of the most important questions of all: are either Noah or Alison a reliable narrator?
"I struggle with that question, like I struggled with it the whole series," Treem admits. "Like, do you think that you're a reliable narrator when you tell your own memories? I mean, I would say that I am as reliable as I can be, but I recognize my own bias and memory is faulty."
Treem, who is quite rare among showrunners in that she "really" enjoys reading fans' real-time reactions to the episodes on social media, admits she "didn't know what to expect" in terms of how people would respond to the characters; if men would be more likely to side with Noah, while women would believe Alison was telling the truth.
But certain responses have led her to make an interesting observation in the way viewers respond to fictional TV characters vs. real-life people.
"I find it really amazing how dedicated people are towards their opinions of these characters. I was kind of surprised by a lot of people turning on Helen in episode eight, in the therapy session," Treem says. "‘The reason I married you is because I thought you were safe.' In my mind, she was being honest, and people just were like, ‘I'm gonna cut a bitch!' [Laughs.] I was like, ‘What?!'
"What I feel like is interesting about watching people's responses to television characters is that we were trying to make the show as realistic as possible, and in real-life, I think that we do actually give each other tremendous rope, usually, in our relationships," she continues. "We give our husbands and our wives and our lovers and our friends a lot of room before we really cut them off because we are involved with them; our whole lives are entwined with them and we love them. But in television, it takes one terrible thing said in therapy and it's like, ‘Get rid of her!' I find that kind of amusing."
The Affair's finale airs Sunday at 10 p.m. Showtime. Check back with us after the episode for scoop on season two from Sarah Treem.