Is it possible for the seemingly perfect marriage to be missing something that was once an active part at the very beginning? What happens when a loving couple seemed to have lost their way and have drifted apart? Is it possible to find a way to come together or continue to drift apart? That’s part of the premise behind USA’s new show “Satisfaction,” which demonstrated how a seemingly perfect married couple were starting to show some cracks in their almost perfect life together and avoided talking about it out fear of what comes next. Sure, the show has been done before in the past, but this time viewers get both points of view to get a much fuller picture.
“Satisfaction” followed long time married couple Neil (Matt Passmore) and Grace Truman (Stephanie Szostak) who had everything that money could buy, but they felt completely empty instead of happy at everything that they accomplished in their 18 years of marriage. Neil was starting to feel completely disconnected from his family due to his 80 hour work weeks at a job that he hated doing with people that he couldn’t stand being around for more than five minutes at a time. He constantly thought about quitting his job, which he almost did during a meeting but no one took him too seriously. Neil was persuaded by his boss to fly to New York to sign a very big client, but he was finally pushed to the breaking point after being locked in a plane for too many hours that wouldn’t leave the tarmac. He had a huge outburst on the plane that got him on the “no fly” list and a brief claim to fame in a video that went viral. After being taken to task by his boss, Neil decided to finally quit his job for real this time and walked out after he broke a television in the conference room. In an effort to warn Grace, he goes to visit her while she was working to find her in a compromising position with another man. As he watched Grace, Neil’s whole world suddenly fell apart and he completely lost faith in the woman that he once held dear, but he decided to confront her lover instead. When Neil caught up with Simon (Blair Redford), he was shocked to find out that Grace’s lover was a male escort that she paid to sleep with. He had every intention to confront his wife later that night, but he ended up with Simon’s phone by accident and answered a call from one of Simon’s clients. Instead of hanging up, Neil kept the appointment and pretended to be Simon to better understand Grace’s state of mind. After the first encounter, he crossed paths with Adriana (Katherine LaNasa) who could help Neil find a new career path if he wanted to. How will he explain his new secret life to his wife and their daughter Anika (Michelle DeShon) when the truth does eventually come out? Will the Trumans embrace that this is their family dynamic now, or fall apart because of it?
In terms of questions, the show posed quite a few about how a relationship built on secrets could still function if no one bothered to tell the truth about anything. The first two episodes have demonstrated that honesty wasn’t always the best policy in the short term, but it could have a very different result in the long run when secrets go unchecked for too long. Of course, many people might look at the subject matter of straying outside of a marriage to a questionable area to explore, but adultery storylines have been covered before on both the big and small screens to showcase how a marriage can thrive or falter even greater because of it. Okay, the male escort plot was done once before on HBO’s now cancelled “Hung,” but that show took an often cynical look at that world and showcased a few characters that were often very hard to root for. “Hung” was also part of the reason why it took several years for this show to get made, because Hollywood thought the shows were far too similiar. Sadly, it would be a huge mistake to make that assumption because that couldn’t be further from the truth. “Satisfaction” showcased how even the strongest of marriages could be built on keeping secrets from your spouse. Each episode gave ample opportunity for viewers to see both Neil and Grace’s points of view as to what led them to take such drastic risks to feel alive again. In terms of Neil’s brief foray as an escort, he only had two encounters in the first episode and nothing else as of yet. It’s surprising that this show ended up on USA rather than a channel, such as Showtime or Cinemax, that could get away with showing more of the risque aspects of Simon’s world to give viewers a different understanding of his profession. In the end, USA was the better choice because it allowed the show focus on the more human elements of the story rather than the tawdry parts. Ultimately, the show worked overall as whole, but the main problem was finding a proper way for Passmore’s Neil and Szostak’s Grace to connect in a joint storyline. Sure, Passmore and Szostak delivered strong performances in their individual stories, but the show hasn’t found a way to root for their characters to overcome their differences yet. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
As for breakout performances, Passmore and Szokstak obviously led the pack their characters were the driving force of the show based on their mainly separate stories. Passmore has proven to be a valuable leading man in the past when he was on A&E’s prematurely cancelled “The Glades,” which he never got a chance to resolve in a rather disappointing cliffhanger that was left open ended for good. He proved Neil with enough subtext to make viewers realize that he was more than a mindless drone that went through the motions with his life. Passmore was often able to convey Neil’s conflicting emotions, such as when the character saw his wife sleeping with another man. His face went through a rapid fire revolving door of shock, anger and utter sadness that the woman he love managed to break his heart in an instant without saying a word to him. He also managed to give Neil a playful bravado in his scenes with LaNasa that wasn’t there in his scenes with Szostak’s Grace. Let’s hope that LaNasa’s Adriana will stick around because her playful rapport with Passmore brought some levity at the most appropriate times. Passmore also had a rapport with Redford’s Simon that was more of an antagonistic nature as they fought for Grace’s affections without going too far; for now. Szokstak, on the other hand, had the more challenging task of making the faithful wife role more sympathetic than the character should be. Viewers got to see her character struggle with finding her identity and falling down a metaphorical rabbit hole as she was tempted by the attractive Simon to take a risk that she never did before. Sure, viewers saw Grace bonding with her sister and her daughter, but the character needed to be better connected to Neil’s main storylines in order for viewers to become truly invented in the character. It would be an interesting story point if Grace and Adriana ended up crossing paths at a business function just to see how the characters would react to each other. It would also be even more interesting to see Passmore’s Neil squirm just a bit if that does end up happening. Fingers crossed that it does sooner rather than later.
“Satisfaction” premiered on July 17th and airs Thursdays at 10:00 PM on USA.
Verdict: Passmore and Szostak made very charming leads in their separate stories, but the show hasn’t truly found a way to bring the characters together in the scenes they do share together just yet.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)