How many shades of wrong are there in the headlines about Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, and the divorcing couple's former nanny, Christine Ouzounian? Let us count the head-shaking ways, literally and alphabetically.
A: The allegation.
Affleck, who turns 43 on Saturday, and Ouzounian, 28, carried on an affair for "months" during Ouzounian's employment and prior to Affleck and Garner, 43, announcing their split on June 30, presumably Garner-allied sources told People.
Affleck-allied sources, chiefly the actor and Oscar-winning filmmaker's rep, have denied Affleck had anything but a professional relationship with Ouzounian, and labeled reports saying otherwise as "complete garbage."
B: The blabbing.
Most of what we know or, rather, think we know about Affleck and Ouzounian appears to lead back to Ouzounian and/or so-called Ouzounian friends.
"When you are working for someone, you just don't talk about non-business-related things," says Los Angeles-based etiquette coach Maggie Oldham. "She should know that this is a really, really bad career move for her... not because of the affair [allegation] but because the information has gotten out, either on her part or [due to] her wine-night conversations with girlfriends."
C: The cliché.
Oh, no, not the nanny-hooks-up-with-the-boss meme again. Oh, yes, that again.
"One of the biggest clichés that nannies have to face is the inevitable affair cliché, which certainly made me roll my eyes when I first read about [the Affleck-nanny story]," Merethe Walther, an editor who previously worked as a live-in nanny, told Yahoo Celebrity via email.
D: Mr. Deflategate.
The last thing this hardly low-profile story needed was a cameo appearance by Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback and current star of his own scandal. But there he is, in stories placing him, Affleck, and Ouzounian on the same private-jet ride to Vegas in June just before Affleck and Garner's divorce was announced.
E: The early exit.
Ouzounian was hired to tend to Affleck and Garner's three children just this past spring. It's said she came from a top-flight agency with first-rate credentials — she'd previously worked for Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, among others. But it all ended for Ouzounian in the Affleck-Garner household just a few months after her hire. Not a desirable outcome, no matter the reason.
"A nanny is someone that you and your kids are taught to trust and rely on," Walther said.
F: The family.
The nanny saga makes fine blood sport for spectators, but presumed bad times for the blown-up nuclear family at the center of it: Affleck, Garner, and their children.
"I feel badly for the Afflecks, we don't know the facts, but this is out there for the whole world to see," Oldham says.
G: Good-looking nannies.
Hand in hand with the trite storyline of the female nanny who steals the affections of her male employer is the notion that the younger and more-conventionally attractive the nanny is, the greater the risk of a Lifetime movie breaking out on the premises.
This is not fair, we might note, to the young, conventionally attractive nanny currently in the market for employment.
"The majority of all nannies are there for the children," says Tiffanie Kinder of the nanny-placement agency Nanny Connections. "[But in the wake of the Affleck-nanny coverage] families are being a little more cautious on booking good-looking nannies... There are more of the mothers that say, 'Don't send me this.' They joke and yet they're serious. You can tell."
H: Hotel Bel-Air.
The five-star Los Angeles hotel is unwittingly at the center of another plot point worthy of bad TV: the young woman who is stashed away at an exclusive residence by her moneyed paramour.
As it denies the star had a romantic relationship with Ouzounian, Affleck's side denies the star is covering her hotel tab.
It's not clear how pictures from Ouzounian's set-to-private social-media account are getting shared with the entire world, but they are, and every shot of Ouzanian on the aforementioned jet modeling Brady's Super Bowl rings or tooling around in her new car is feeding the tabloid flame.
J: Jude Law.
And Arnold Schwarzenegger. And all the rest. We don't like to revisit stories that made us act all judgy, but here we are, reliving famous cases of celebrity dads gone bad, and making us act all judgy. So annoying.
K: The kids.
Did we mention there are three of them? Ages 9, 6 and 3? Oy. Please, young ones, don't ever Google anything about the summer of 2015.
L: The Lexus.
So, about that Instagram shot of Ouzounian and her new car: The vehicle being showcased is a Lexus IS Convertible (base price: $43,000), and it's the only thing that comes out looking good.
Ouzounian looks bad because she's seen living the suspiciously large life in presumed unemployment.
Affleck looks bad because he's seen as Public Suspect No. 1 when it comes to who's behind Ouzounian's Lexus-buying power.
Most of all, anyone who's jumped to conclusions looks bad because London's Daily Mail, of all places, produced a plausible, alternate view (aided by Affleck-friendly sources) of how Ouzounian might have purchased a luxury automobile: The ex-nanny, it reported, "has made some money selling the photos of herself... Ben is certainly not supporting her financially."
M: The media coverage.
As noted, Affleck's side insists reporting on the nanny saga has been wrong (except, presumably, for the reporting that states Affleck's side). But even an unaligned party can argue that the coverage has not been, let's say, nuanced.
Take the jet ride co-starring Brady. The New York Post played it like a mile-high bacchanal (Jocks! Super Bowl rings! Vegas, baby!); it even used the phrase "mile high."
But was it really unusual — as Team Affleck would assert (to the Post) it was not — for Affleck to be on a private jet in the company of Ouzounian, his then-employee, Brady, his friend, and "many" more, including other Affleck staffers, bound for a city (Las Vegas), where Affleck was sponsoring a poker tournament to benefit his advocacy group, the Eastern Congo Initiative?
And, returning to the specific matter of Ouzounian, was it really unusual for the family nanny to be on a flight with no children in tow?
"There's definitely a different job description for a nanny with a high-earning, high-profile [employer]," says Oldham. "The job description is more blurred because you're going to wear more hats, [and] there is travel involved and sometimes that travel is going to be in private jets."
Oldham continues, "I can see eyebrows raised if it was just the two of them [Affleck and Ouzounian]. [But it wasn't] and what's the alternative? Sending her separately on a commercial plane?"
That would be inappropriate.
N: The Nanny.
All that good work that Fran Drescher did to make nannies funny and relatable and such, down the drain...
With conflicting reports, it's hard to determine if the ex-nanny is selling herself (an arguably crass act and/or an arguably shrewd financial move), or being sold out. Not a good deal in any case.
P: The private jet.
Way to make the ultimate perk seem cheap — thanks a lot, Page Six.
Q: The quiet.
Affleck and Ouzounian have not been publicly seen together in nearly a month, since she stopped by his Los Angeles home on July 17 — and yet the scandal machine keeps running.
R: The restaurants.
Either Ouzounian has to stop eating meals in public, which seems unfair, or she has to stop eating meals in paparazzi-friendly locations, such as Beverly Hills' Il Pastaio, which also could seem unfair if one's entire motive for eating meals in public was to be photographed. In any case, we get it already: She consumes food and beverages.
S: The Super Bowl rings.
Even if you're the world's biggest New England Patriots fan, you must admit, Brady's four pieces of gridiron jewelry lose some of their mythic quality when they're loaned out for snapshots. Even Team Affleck says the rings were passed around a lot on the famous jet ride.
"I saw the [Ouzounian] picture and was, like, 'What the heck is he [Brady] doing carrying around all his rings,'" talk-host and retired NFL player Michael Strahan told the Post.
T: This: "Ben Affleck's Ex-Nanny Christine Ouzounian Steps Out Solo in Los Angeles a Day After Having Lunch with Friends."
Seriously, enough with nonstop coverage of Ouzounian's dining habits. Also, how is the last part of that People headline — about lunch, natch — in any way significant or related to the first part about a woman running errands? And why are we clicking on any of it? (We know, we can't help it — none of us are blameless here.)
Reports that Ouzounian feels she's found "true love" with Affleck countered with reports that Affleck is "not in communication" with Ouzounian make us sad.
V: The Vacation.
So, the timeline (supposedly) went like this: Affleck, his children and nanny Ouzounian fly to the Bahamas; Garner joins the family getaway; Affleck and Ouzounian deplane to Las Vegas, while Garner and the children remain in the Bahamas; three days later, Affleck and Garner announce their divorce. Somewhere along the way, Ouzounian becomes the family's former nanny.
The outrage here is not what happened or didn't happen; it's the attempt to label anything that occurred in this time frame "a vacation." Nope.
W: Whoever, as in whoever sold the Super Bowl and Lexus pictures.
Everybody's got to eat, but in this case meal money is being provided by a tabloid scandal that indirectly involves children.
X, Y and Z: We're holding these three letters in reserve in case the story outlasts the summer, which, were that to pass, might be the biggest wrong of them all.