Why Ruth Wilson left The Affair

The unexpected exit of Alison in Showtime drama The Affair in 2018 -and the subsequent silence around it by actress Ruth Wilson- has lingered for many fans of the drama.

Last year Wilson told a New York Times reporter “It isn’t about pay parity, and it wasn’t about other jobs, [but] I’m not really allowed to talk about it” adding they should contact showrunner Sarah Treem, “There is a much bigger story.”

Over the past week more has emerged that will answer many questions for fans.

A lengthy article from the Hollywood Reporter says sources suggest Wilson was unhappy with a “toxic” environment, nudity scenes and pressure from Sarah Treem.

Wilson is not quoted and is subject to a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

But in a separate Deadline article, Sarah Treem responds, detailing how much she tried to accommodate Wilson, using body doubles and how a scene which looked like rape, was supposed to be Noah’s (Dominic West) perspective.

The Affair was always about different perspectives and how the truth often lies in between….

“My show was about perspective and memory. When people would ask me what the “truth” was on The Affair, I would say, there is no objective truth on this show – there’s only peoples’ truthful interpretation of what happened. And it’s up to the audience to bring their own biases and perspectives to viewing the story – to weave through the differing accounts and figure out for themselves, individually, what they believe. So, in a way, each viewer comes away having watched a slightly different show. I built the show that way, because that’s how life works,” she writes.

Both articles are worth reading if you are a fan of this show and still seeking answers.

There are also two footnotes I’ll add to this….

The first is my concern around Treem’s line, “By the time we got to the third season, I had abandoned my original plan for the character and was actively trying to write Alison closer to Ruth’s vision.” Very bad idea!

The second is the line Showtime said at the time of Wilson’s departure… “everyone agreed the character’s story had run its course.” Clearly now a bunch of hogwash.


  1. I just wanted to say thank you to Ruth for having the guts to stand up against the inclusion of the attempted rape scene during Alison’s murder. That scene was atrocious writing and did not fit the overall story of the show. Rape is a trope that is used far too often for shock value alone and would have made that whole scene, not only more offensive, but just nonsensical.

    I think it just highlights the internalised misogyny that is very present in Sarah Treem’s writing. She can’t even see that The Affair lost its way, it stopped being about perspectives very quickly. It turned into a show excusing and romanticising predatory male behaviour.

    The idea Ruth had of Alison was certainly the character I wanted to see moving forward. We got glimpses! Showtime probably should have forced a showrunner change. Also, I wonder if we’ll hear about Joshua Jackson’s exit. The two more…

    • I agree with most points made in your comment, I only watched season one and part of season two, the show had tested my patience at that point.
      Allison was emotionally scarred and Noah was a nascent sociopath looking to pander his own damaged ego, the two opposites found an unlikely attraction and began a sexual obsession that in reality would have quickly burnt itself out if the producers had not exploited the shows voyeuristic potential to turn The Affair into a long running psychological melodrama.
      I wont comment on Ruth’s departure but suspect the plot had run its course for her too as an actress.

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