Season 2 of The Affair premiered on Sunday night and the most memorable scene was when Josh Stamberg, who plays Max, bared all in front of the cameras.


Helen (Maura Tierney) and Noah (Dominic West) are getting divorced and Helen has begun having an affair with Max, Noah’s so-called best friend. During a scene that takes place in Max’s hotel suite, shortly after Helen and Max have just slept together, Max presumes to walk about the room naked, ordering room-service for them. During the scene we get a good look at Max, as he bares his penis, and quite unabashedly.

The reasons for this provocative scene was not to merely shock or please the audience (depending on who’s watching), but served a specific purpose. When asked about the scene, Stamberg explains that the reason the nudity is appropriate here is to help the audience empathize with Helen’s point of view. For someone who hasn’t been intimate with anyone but their spouse since college, it can be a strange experience to suddenly see a new person’s naked body.

“For her, she hasn’t been with anyone else since college. What is it like for her to see someone else’s body? And a person who is your husband’s best friend and been a big part of your life? It’s a very deep and challenging and wildly intimate moment,” Stamberg told Entertainment Weekly.

“Did you have any hesitation about getting so naked?” EW asked Stamberg.

“Much,” Stamberg replied. “There was a lot of discussion. I hadn’t read the episode yet when it was mentioned. The important question to me, as a theater actor or really any actor is: what is the pertinence? Does this move the story and why? I had a lot of qualms about how this helped and wanted to be sure it wasn’t just a gimmick or a bit. [Director] Jeff Reiner and [creator/writer] Sarah Treem had really good answers. I think is all plays and makes sense.”

“Do you know how they shot that?” West asked E! News. “It’s f—ing funny. I don’t know why they decided they wanted a full-frontal male, but I thought it was so funny. He gets up out of bed, with his ass to camera and he crosses the camera… and then the stand-in just steps in. This completely different guy who had to have his d—k inspected,” West said, laughing.

Tierney had a difficult time shooting the scene. “I was like, ‘are you kidding?’ I was cringing.”

Apparently the full-frontal nudity was not part of the original script, but executive producer Jeff Reiner pushed for it to be added into the scene.

Not everyone was pleased with the full-frontal nudity on television, but despite a lot of people having more conservative views on nudity it has become increasingly popular to include it in television shows (i.e. Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Deadwood, True Detective), whether it serves a purpose to the story or just for entertainment value. Male nudity, however, has been lacking on television. The Affair is making a bold move by including it in their Season 2 premiere, and perhaps it will set off a trend in other shows.

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