FATAL ATTRACTION | Paramount+ | April 30, 2023
Starring: Joshua Jackson, Lizzy Caplan, Amanda Peet, Toby Huss, Brian Goodman, Alyssa Jirrels, Reno Wilson
Executive Producers: Alexandra Cunningham, Kevin J. Hynes, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey
The all-new series is a deep dive reimagining of the 1980s cultural touchstone, FATAL ATTRACTION, through the lens of privilege, personality disorders, family dynamics and murder. In the present day, after serving 15 years in prison for the murder of Alexandra Forrest (Lizzy Caplan), Daniel Gallagher (Joshua Jackson) is paroled with the goals of reconnecting with his family and proving his innocence. In 2008, Dan first meets Alex and his world begins to unravel after their brief affair threatens to destroy the life he’s built with his wife Beth (Amanda Peet).
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Fatal Attraction is a truly binge worthy series that takes the classic thriller out for a new spin, full of twists and turns that will constantly cause your jaw to drop as Lizzy Caplan delivers one of the best and most unforgettable performances of her career.
The original Fatal Attraction film has earned its prominence in pop culture history thanks to Glenn Close’s unforgettable performance, that gives a whole new meaning to an unhinged ex trying to destroy your life. Even decades later, the film still holds up as a great thriller that is still deserving of Close’s Oscar nomination for Best Actress in what is one of the best performances of her career. When Paramount announced the television reworking of their classic film starring Joshua Jackson, Lizzy Caplan and Amanda Peet, I was intrigued but was left asking myself “how could this under two hour film be stretched into an effective miniseries?” However, by the time the first episode finishes, I could not stop watching this truly great series which creates an even more thrilling and suspense-filled ride with greater character development, mixed in with tons of nods to the original film and a true life crime twist, makes for one riveting watch.
Dan Gallagher has it all. An incredible wife, a wonderful daughter, and a high status career as a district attorney in Los Angeles. But Dan’s eye catches the attention of Alex Forrest, a new colleague, and begins an affair with her. But after trying to stop it, realizing that he has made a terrible mistake, Alex refuses to let Dan just walk away, turning his life upside down as she makes it her mission to either win him back or destroy his life as he knows it.
Stretching the story of the original film out over eight episodes is not an easy task, as there is not enough story there to fill an entire miniseries. To address this, the writers have two storylines going on simultaneously. The first is the story from the original film, following the story beats that audiences expect for Fatal Attraction; while the second storyline follows Dan being released from prison years later for Alex’s murder. This sounds like a spoiler, but it is not as it is in the first scene of the pilot episode, which adds a layer of intrigue to the story. Dan insists that he is innocent, and we see a true crime drama unfold as he tries to unfold what happened all those years ago. Both storylines play out, following the events of the original film as truths are discovered in the future storyline, delivering countless twists and turns along the way.
The writers use your knowledge of the original film as an asset, dropping hints and nods to the original film such as references to the infamous bathtub, but then pull the rug out from under you as they subvert your expectations of what is going to happen. Instead, this is a far darker and more dramatic version of Fatal Attraction, truly digging into the psyche of the characters and the morality of the entire dilemma that cannot be captured in a two hour film. Even if you have seen the film and know the story well, you will not be sure where this version is going as while the blueprint is the same, there are so many changes that update the story for modern times and allow for a far larger story to play out over the course of eight episodes. The ending is going to divide audiences, but it leaves the door open for what could be a very fascinating second season that further explores the long lasting effect of Alex’s actions on the Gallagher family. The result is a truly binge worthy series that hooks you within minutes of the first episode, and with the startling twist at the end of each episode, will have audiences eagerly anticipating the next episode to drop on each week.
Much like the film, the lead performance is the true draw of the series, with Caplan taking on Close’s iconic role. And while Caplan does not have the sophisticated elegance that Close brought to the role, she is far more unhinged and startling than Close ever was. Caplan creates a more quiet and intriguing Alex, creating a character that you are instantly drawn towards despite the warning signs that are present. It’s a more compassionate portrayal of mental illness as Caplan finds a heartbreaking quality to Alex in bringing to life this young woman whose volatile nature drives individuals away from her, while at the same time scaring you to death. When she begins to seek her revenge on Dan, Caplan unleashes a frightening terror that rocks you to your core, proving herself to be far more dangerous than Close was for the majority of the film as Alex leaves no line uncrossed. The writers give Caplan the material that makes Alex deadly long before the season finale, while simultaneously making her a cunning individual that is constantly one step ahead of Dan as he tries to save his reputation and protect his family. Needless to say, Caplan gives a performance that will haunt you long after the series is over.
Co-starring alongside Caplan as Dan and Beth are Jackson and Peet respectively, both of whom are perfectly cast. Jackson has an air of arrogance to him that plays into the untouchable nature of his character, wearing his charming smile as a weapon. Below the handsome exterior, Dan is spiraling as he loses control of his life and Jackson captures this so well. While you feel for what his character is going through, you can’t help but feel somewhat vindicated as Dan’s arrogance gets the better of him as the lies pile up, making it harder for him to hide the truth of his affair from his wife. Peet, on the other hand, is sweet as Beth. While her husband is having an affair, Peet makes you feel for her character, while her performance in the future timeline makes you question how much she truly was involved with and complicit with what may or may not have happened to Alex. It raises some wonderful questions for the audience around infidelity and control, helping to build towards that truly shocking and devastating final episode.
Full of twists and turns that will shock both fans of the original film and newcomers alike. Fatal Attraction will have you hooked and waiting week to week to find out what happened to Alex Forrest. Lead by an outstanding and compelling performance by Lizzy Caplan that brings to life a complex character that will rock you to your core, Fatal Attraction breathes new life into a classic thriller that will arouse and take you on a wild ride, constantly keeping you guessing as to what the writers will throw at you next!