Johnny Flynn reflects on The Lovers' depiction of infidelity: 'It's healthy to challenge status quo'

The Lovers premieres on Sky on Thursday, 7 September

Johnny Flynn and Roisin Gallagher in The Lovers (Sky)
Johnny Flynn and Roisin Gallagher in The Lovers (Sky)

New comedy series The Lovers follows the budding romance between two people considering having an affair. It's an unconventional take on the rom-com formula but one that actor Johnny Flynn feels challenges the status quo in a good way, he tells Yahoo UK.

"In a society that's just about beginning to question some of the rules that we've inherited about the way we get on with our lives, and marriage and relationships being one of them, polygamy and open relationships seem more of a topic now than [they've] ever been," he says.

In the Sky comedy, which premieres on Thursday, 7 September, Flynn's political newscaster Seamus is drawn to Northern Irish supermarket worker Janet (Roisin Gallagher) despite already having a girlfriend. The actor feels it represents a larger trend of different types of relationships becoming more acceptable by the public.

Read more: 'Operation Mincemeat': Ian Fleming actor Johnny Flynn on James Bond future

"I think it's healthy to challenge the status quo, and the show isn't saying we should all just run off and have affairs. It's watching two people wrestle with the moral dilemma and going on the journey with that conundrum with them.

Alice Eve in The Lovers (Sky)
Alice Eve in The Lovers (Sky)

"So, the fact that it's difficult is good in terms of the truth of the storytelling and it was really interesting to play those scenes."

Seamus literally falls into Janet's life when he climbs over her garden wall in a bid to escape teens who start chasing him. By doing so he also inadvertently saves Janet's life too.

The pair become increasingly aware of their feelings for each other but there is one thing that stands in the way of their happily ever after: Seamus is dating celebrity Frankie (Alice Eve). Rather than break up his relationship, Janet and Seamus decide they'd be up for having a no-strings attached fling instead.

Roisin Gallagher and Johnny Flynn in The Lovers (Sky)
Roisin Gallagher and Johnny Flynn in The Lovers (Sky)

"There's a messiness and an awkwardness and a painful reality that's portrayed in terms of the guilt that they feel," Flynn says of Seamus and Janet's romance.

"The drama is how they set the arguments out about whether they should be together or not, whether they can be together or not, whether they're morally allowed to be together or not, and I think that's interesting."

Read more: Everything new on Sky/NOW in September 2023

Gallagher concurred with this sentiment, adding: "And I think it's quite clear from both their standpoints that there's never an intention to hurt anyone and that is worth noting."

Roisin Gallagher and Johnny Flynn in The Lovers (Sky)
Roisin Gallagher and Johnny Flynn in The Lovers (Sky) (des willie)

For Gallagher it was the "uniqueness to the writing" that made her connect with Seamus and Janet's unlikely romance as she "hadn't really read [it] before in a TV context", but she also appreciated the way the show approaches her character's mental health through a comedic lens.

Janet will often joke to mask the pain she's really feeling, but the show doesn't shy away from examining the depth of her struggle and neither does it diminish it.

Reflecting on this, Gallagher says: "I think it was very well researched and there was a lot of external support from professionals to ensure that it was a story responsibly told, which is so important.

Roisin Gallagher in The Lovers (Sky)
Roisin Gallagher in The Lovers (Sky) (Peter Marley)

"I think that it's really vital to explore the whole of a person, and David [Ireland, who wrote the series] really allows us to see the whole of Janet and all her ups and the downs as well.

"She uses humour to survive, so it's a necessary part of it for her, and it's a very satisfying thing to perform. I feel like that kind of comedy drama is really satisfying when it's done right."

Read more: Johnny Flynn: 'I had to pull some sort of crazy Ziggy magic out of my bum'

Part of the comedy for Flynn was playing up Seamus' ego and self-obsession as a broadcaster with a big following, and the Stardust actor admitted he found it "quite excruciating to lean into" this side of the character, though he had an amusing source of inspiration.

Johnny Flynn in The Lovers (Sky)
Johnny Flynn in The Lovers (Sky) (Peter Marley)

"I realised I had to just do it with abandon to make it all work, and so that was fun, actually, to just say f*** it and the best bit about it is he gets to start laughing at himself through Janet's perspective of him and I think that's the beginning of him really falling in love with her

"He realises that she holds the key to who he really is, which he's lost touch with, and she she's showing it to him.

"But I had a lot of fun doing some of the early political broadcasts, like when he's outside doing his first news pitch, just to take the mick out of some of those news guys who sound like they know everything.

"Being as a long time fan of Alan Partridge, it was fun to to lean into some of that."

The Lovers (Sky)
The Lovers (Sky)

What both actors enjoyed most, though, was the way in which the show sees their characters develop and grow as people, particularly through their deep connection with one another and the romantic feelings this creates regardless of social norms.

Flynn praises the series as "beautiful" and "unflinching" because of this, and adds: "Although it's very, very funny it's also quite dark, and I think totally real.

"You end up going on a journey with these characters, [and] it's quite rare in TV to go on such a profound journey with them, and live through both of their redemptions, as it were, to themselves."

The Lovers premieres on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW on 7 September.

Watch the trailer for The Lovers: