It’s not a mid-life crisis, insists actress Stephanie Szostak. When her character on USA Network’s new drama Satisfaction begins an affair with a male escort, it’s not her character freaking out at getting older and mourning the loss of her youth. Instead, the French beauty says, “I think it is more of an awakening. It’s that stage where especially, women, you’re devoted, you’re a mother, a wife, and suddenly, you think, ‘Gosh, Who am I?’”
It’s a thought-provoking question, and as Szostak’s character, Grace Truman, ponders who she is outside of her roles of wife and mother, she finds that she craves a life for herself. Her once-promising art career was halted by her much-desired pregnancy and now that her daughter is a curious and independent teen, Grace embarks on a journey of self-discovery. She finds herself yearning to find herself. In the show’s pilot, Grace admonishes her book club as they discuss the exploits of a character, “Why don’t we live? Why don’t we make our own stories and not just read other people’s stories?” She drags the women to a nightclub where, surrounded by a pulsing throng of revelers, she feels alive and free.
Grace’s thirst for freedom leads to a sexual awakening and subsequent affair, but Szostak isn’t worried what audiences will think of her character’s infidelity. “I think that’s the death of an actor,” She says, “when you try to be likable, even thought that has crossed my mind. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope I’m not perceived as bad.’ But you can’t think like that, you have to understand your character — and Grace isn’t thinking, ‘am I likeable?’”
Externally, Grace and Neil Truman are extremely likable. They’ve put on a façade of success and placation, but their masks bely their internal struggles and desires for something more. “Neil and Grace try to protect each other by being so nice and by not really opening up,” she says. We’re all so afraid to be honest and we want to say that everything is great, but it can make you grow apart.”
Szostak hopes that viewers use Neil and Grace’s quest to escape from their mutual and stoic unhappiness to better their own relationships, “If the show can trigger conversations amongst people that would be great,” says Szostak. “There was an article in Marie Clare that said that people who watch movies about relationships [find] that it helps their marriages. They compared it to counseling … I was like ‘ooh, how appropriate!’”
Satisfaction premieres Thursday, July 17 at 10pmEP/PT on USA Network
image © Robert Ascroft/USA Network
See the Article Stephanie mentioned (courtesy Marie Claire)