At a time when there is a lot of talk in the industry about the way cable networks pilot their shows vs the rat race that is the broadcast pilot system, Showtime is once again proving the greater efficiency of cable.
The premium cable network is going two-for-two by handing series orders to both of their recent pilots: drama The Affair and comedy Happyish (formerly known as Trending Down). Both series have been given 10 episode orders. In addition, Showtime has announced that the new seasons of Nurse Jackie and Californication will premiere on Sunday April 13th at 9pm and 9:30pm, respectively; meanwhile the network’s new drama series Penny Dreadful will premiere on Sunday May 11th at 10pm.
“The Affair is a beautiful pilot. It is an intense exploration of two marriages and the affair that disrupts them – with great acting and a very clever, deeply-observed script by the marvelously talented Sarah Treem,” said David Nevins, President of Entertainment for Showtime Networks. “Shalom Auslander and Phillip Seymour Hoffman make for a formidable and unusual comedy team. The chance to get one of the truly great actors of our time into a such an incisive and current comedy was totally and completely irresistible.”
Created by Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi, The Affair explores the emotional and psychological effects of an extramarital affair. The series follows Alison, a young woman waiting tables at a popular Hamptons diner, trying to piece her life back together in the wake of a tragedy; and her husband Cole, as he struggles to keep it all together, with his wife and with the financially-strained ranch that has been in his family for generations. Their emotionally-charged marriage becomes even more complicated when Alison begins an affair with Noah, a New York City public school teacher and aspiring novelist who is spending the summer at his in-laws’ estate out on the island. The drama series stars Dominic West (The Wire), Ruth Wilson (Luther), Maura Tierney (ER) and Joshua Jackson (Fringe).
Created by Shalom Auslander and developed by Ken Kwapis, Happyish follows Thom Payne, a man facing his own obsolescence after his advertising agency is taken over. On his birthday, Thom Payne gets the gift of insignificance and also a new boss. He suspects his ED pills are interfering with his anti-depressants, leaving him with neither happiness nor… happiness. In a culture that reveres youth – a culture he helped create – Thom needs to figure out what his purpose is now that he’s halfway to death and nobody cares what he thinks. Because in a world where any Kardashian is trending up, perhaps the wise among us would heartily embrace trending down. John Cameron Mitchell is attached to direct. The comedy series stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathryn Hahn and Rhys Ifans.