Last week, the Hollywood Reporter published an article claiming that Ruth Wilson, former star of the Showtime series The Affair, left the show at the height of its popularity after feeling coerced into unnecessary nude scenes by the show’s creator, Sarah Treem. In response, Treem published a tone-deaf defense of her series rather than addressing any of the allegations.
The Hollywood Reporter alleged that Treem created a “toxic” work environment for Wilson and the show’s other actors in which she urged actors to get naked even when they were not contractually obligated to do so. The report also claims that nude shoots were often crowded with non-essential staff and monitors were left on so that even people uninvolved with the shoot could see the scenes being filmed.
In an op-ed published at Deadline, Treem ignores all these allegations, insisting instead that the series she wrote was about “perspective and memory.” Rather than addressing complaints about the work environment and allegations that she tried to talk actors into performing nude scenes by complimenting their bodies, Treem seems to suggest that Wilson was simply being difficult:
“But Ruth Wilson, who was playing Alison, didn’t approve of the scene and didn’t want to play it as written. By this point, it wasn’t a surprise as we had been disagreeing on the character’s choices since the second episode. By now we were at this complicated impasse where I didn’t know how to write the character any differently and she didn’t feel she could play what I was writing.”
She also blames Wilson for the manner in which she killed off Wilson’s character, Allison, claiming that Ruth Wilson’s team demanded rewrites that ultimately made the episode problematic:
“But once Ruth’s team reported that she wasn’t happy, they suddenly asked me to change it. At that point, I absolutely fought back because I didn’t want to write a script where a veteran just goes insane and kills a woman with no impetus.”
And as for the allegations that a producer on the series, Jeff Reiner, asked Lena Dunham for advice on talking actors into getting naked during a chance meeting while filming on location in Montauk, Treem says she was in California at the time but asked the network to “do something” after Dunham’s newsletter Lenny Letter ran a blind item about the incident.
All in all, the letter reads more like an ars poetica than an attempt to address a work environment that made an actor so uncomfortable that she quit her job on an award-winning series rather than continue daily negotiations around nudity not stipulated in her contract. Treem’s longwinded attempt to defend the concept of her show rather than recognize the complaints of Wilson and many others who spoke to the Reporter speaks more to her priorities than anything she wrote in the op-ed.