News Column

Dark side of love examined in new shows, 'Betrayal' and 'We Are Men'

September 28, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 28--LOS ANGELES -- Two new network series take a very different look at the consequences of falling in love.

ABC's new Sunday drama "Betrayal" shows that it's not always wise to act on an emotion with someone who isn't your husband, while the new CBS Monday night comedy, "We Are Men," looks at life after love has faded away. Here's a closer look at each show.

'Betrayal'

"Betrayal" follows in the tradition of ABC dramas "Scandal" and "Revenge" by delving into a world of sex, love, loyalty, marriage and treachery.

It all starts when Sara Hanley (Hannah Ware), a professional photographer, and Jack McAllister (Stuart Townsend), a top attorney, meet and fall into bed. The tryst goes far beyond infidelity when their worlds begin to collide.

Executive producer David Zabel says it took a long time to find just the right tone of romanticizing the relationship while not making it too easy for the audience to like the couple.

"They're both in relationships that are viable marriages that I think most people could look at and go, 'That's kind of like my marriage. It's not a totally dysfunctional marriage.' So it complicates the story," Zabel says.

"It makes it riskier in some ways because I don't think it's romanticized to the extent that you're like, 'Yeah, we're rooting for those people to have an affair.' I think there are lots of places in the pilot where you go, "Wow, I'm conflicted about this relationship,' in the same way that the characters are conflicted about the relationship.

"That the characters have guilt and the characters have moments of feeling that they're failing their responsibilities in the things that they've signed up for."

Zabel knows the show hangs on the idea that the audience has an appetite for sophisticated storytelling where the heroes and villains aren't clearly defined. It's risky for network TV.

"In making the show, we're aiming for threading that needle between what is sort of conventional ABC kind of soap opera and something that's much more sophisticated and adult," Zabel says.

Whether the show wins over an audience or not will have to be done quickly. "Betrayal" joins the growing number of network and cable shows designed for only a limited run. This series will run 13 episodes this year. Should it prove popular, another arc would be created for the second season.

'We Are Men'

"We Are Men" follows the standard situation-comedy format.

Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn, Chris Smith and Jerry O'Connell play four single guys living in a short-term apartment complex. They become friends because of their many missteps in love.

Penn, who had taken time away from acting to work at the White House, was attracted to the series because these guys, full of bluster, are vulnerable at the end of the day.

"I loved the show because, in every episode so far that we've read, it ends with a lot of sweetness," Penn says. "So you've got kind of the more debaucherous jokes and the setups before, and then it ends really sweetly. I thought that was kind of a nice combination."

The actors had no trouble relating to how male friends provide support when love goes bad. They have all been there in their real lives.

"When I got out of high school, I had a high school sweetheart and went to college together and sort of broke up in college," Smith says, " I had a good group of buddies who sort of took me out of my comfort zone and would give me good advice and bad advice. It was great."

The best advice they gave him: "Don't look back."

TV schedule

Tonight

Returning:

"48 Hours," 10 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1)

Sunday

New: "Betrayal," 10 p.m. Sunday, KFSN (Channel 30.1)

Returning: "60 Minutes," 7 p.m. KGPE; "The Amazing Race," 8 p.m. KGPE; "Once Upon a Time," 8 p.m. KFSN; "The Simpsons," 8 p.m. KMPH; "Bob's Burgers," 8:30 p.m. KMPH; "The Good Wife," 9 p.m. KGPE; "Revenge," 9 p.m. KFSN; "Family Guy," 9 p.m. KMPH; "American Dad!" 9:30 p.m. KMPH; "The Mentalist," 10 p.m. KGPE.

Monday

New: "We Are Men," 8:30 p.m. Monday, KGPE

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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(c)2013 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

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