An extramarital affair is just the tip of the iceberg in The Adulterer, the addictive thriller series from the Netherlands that’s my pick for your weekend binge-watching.
So much to watch, so little time. Am I right?
Well, make time for The Adulterer (Overspel) cos it’s well worth it. I stayed up until the wee hours binge-watching the first six episodes, and if sunrise wasn’t a couple hours later (and my eyelids hadn’t gotten oh so heavy), I would have kept going.
The main storyline follows the woman and man involved in an intimate relationship outside their respective marriages, and sub-plots revolve around them and members of their families, each of whom has a singular ambition or goal, a secret, or a problem that could land them in big trouble.
Iris van Erkel-Hoegaarde (Sylvia Hoeks, Blade Runner 2049, Berlin Station) is a married professional photographer and mum to a six-year-old boy. She keeps her visits to a psychiatrist a secret from her husband Pepijn van Erkel (Ramsey Nasr, Armando, Süskind), a public prosecutor who’s been waiting for a big case to make his career.
Willem Steenhouwer (Fedja van Huêt, The Neighbors, Black Widow) is a husband, the father of two teenagers, and the attorney for his father-in-law Huub Couwenberg (Kees Prins, Jiskefet, Villa BvD), a wealthy real estate contractor who’s in the press a lot for alleged criminal activity. By extension, Willem falls under that cloud of suspicion given his guilt by association, while his restaurateur wife Elsie (Rifka Lodeizen, Fenix, Can Go Through Skin) is on the verge of bankruptcy with her business.
In the series opener, Iris’ photography exhibition is a success, but you wouldn’t think she’s thrilled about it by her demeanor. She’s tense, then has a mini, internally-driven freak-out and escapes into the cold outside. As it happens, Willem has ducked outside for a smoke break and in seeing the beautiful Iris just feet away, he introduces himself and makes small talk with “the photographer without a photo.”
Meanwhile, Huub and his Dutch-Scandinavian son Bjorn (Guido Pollemans, Force, Riphagen) are meeting with Huub’s brother-in-law Louis (Hidde Maas, Baantjer Mysteries) and another business associate. Things get ugly very quickly after Huub accuses the two men of embezzling and swindling him out of millions of euros.
Fast forward: Iris and Willem embark on their affair, Pepijn takes over the case against Huub, and Louis’ lifeless body is fished out of the canal — prompting a witness to give a statement and the police to focus on a member of the Couwenberg family as the prime suspect in the man’s death.
Hello cover-ups and lies. But as secrets are exposed and plans for revenge are put in motion, stuff starts hitting the fan left and right.
And after another member of the extended Couwenberg-Steenhouwer clan gets in trouble as well, what follows Huub’s intervention is a bit of karmic payback.
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The sense of foreboding is present pretty much from the off. The suspense comes in not knowing how things will play out.
Also integral to the threads is the music — from Smoky Robinson & The Miracles’ “The Tracks of My Tears” as the series theme song, to “Nights in White Satin” by The Moody Blues, “Gold” by Spandau Ballet, and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.
While The Adulterer isn’t an edge-of-your-seat white knuckler, the story is very compelling and could very well keep you watching until stupid o’clock in the morning, too.
The series features Jeffrey Hamilton (Goede tijden, slechte tijden), Sigrid ten Napel (Black Widow), Redmar Siegertsz (Malaika), Bert Luppes (Lord & Master), and Sabrina van Halderen (Black Widow).
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