In the beginning of Summer, I had high hopes for The Leftovers being THE one for me but as it turns out, expecting things to turn out solely based on the promotional hype isn’t the way to go these days. Satisfaction on the other hand came into my life suddenly, out of the blue, and its entire first season was filled with great dramatic moments and gorgeous cinematography.
Satisfaction doesn’t really bring anything new to the table in terms of the story and yet it somehow feels refreshing. It is a well known story of a married couple cruising through their lives without actually living it together. They play their roles, the man goes to work and comes home, the wife does the same and they try to keep up with their roles just as society has asked them to do. But everybody eventually has their breaking point and when Neil Truman (Matt Passmore) finally reaches his, the life he has been living is turned upside down.
Like with every other USA series, Satisfaction is told through a sphere of sophistication and class. Seriously, the entire network seems so polished and refined with Suits, White Collar and now Satisfaction, that it actually hurts me that I’m not living in that reality of fine clothes, modern interior and smart, intelligent conversations between grown ups. So, as a result, USA makes a series about cheating and prostitution feel rich and powerful instead of cheap, which is somewhat impressive and intriguing.
Granted, Satisfaction isn’t solely about cheating nor prostitution, though both of these factors play a significant role in not only shaping Neil’s life but also his wife’s, Grace Truman’s (Stephanie Szostak). There is a very strong presence of that unexplained feeling of happiness in Satisfaction as well, and throughout the season Neil tries to define it, he tries to understand whether it is a material need or an emotional one. Many of his actions could be explained through searching for happiness and though it doesn’t justify his nor Grace’s actions, it somehow portrays the situation differently than I’ve seen it done before.
The first season isn’t about exploiting every possible scenario but it does raise many questionable ones that could be brought back in the next one. That’s another thing that I like about Satisfaction, the fact that it toys with us, and with the characters without really going through with it because that’s closer to reality than falling for every single urge and need. Neil and Grace are therefore a compelling pair and make an interesting couple though I think I’d pair them to everybody else except themselves in so many ways.
To keep Satisfaction clean and neat, the show doesn’t throw too many characters into the mix though there is just enough of drama in relation to all of them. Simon (Blair Redford) is there to stir up some trouble, Adriana (Katherine LaNasa) brings the sort of female dominance and power you expect from an USA series, and the talented daughter Anika (Michelle DeShon) is like any other teenager following her heart. The two stand out minor characters are Grace’s sister Stephanie (Deanna Russo) and a photographer Dylan (Michael Vartan) who, I must admit, offers a little bit of tension and eye candy in only four episodes but he is very memorable.
Like with any other show, one asks herself where does Satisfaction take us and though I’m not entirely sure, I’m still going to stick with it next Summer. It has real relationships, real emotions and the kind of mystery of decision making that it makes its characters less shallow and more real. The finale was a proof of the fact that Satisfaction doesn’t want to make a loud entrance with every plot twist because when Neil and Grace silently agree on how they should continue, without words, there’s so much power behind it. And then there’s the unexpected cliffhanger for the second season that will make every Satisfaction fan frantic – those god damn cliffhangers!
PS: Stephanie Szostak is such a gorgeous woman, man, those French ladies really have a screen presence! And well, Matt Passmore looks rather damper himself but not too handsome which is actually appealing.