Fatal Attraction TV Review

The updated version of the 1987 classic, starring Joshua Jackson and Lizzy Caplan, digs deeper but sacrifices what made the original a hit.

Last Updated on April 28, 2023


Plot: A deep-dive reimagining of the classic 80’s thriller, exploring timeless themes of marriage and infidelity through the lens of modern attitudes toward strong women, personality disorders and coercive control.

Review: As Paramount continues to mine its existing franchises and intellectual property for material to populate its streaming service, we will find unique approaches to retelling classic and iconic stories. Many will not be pleased to see their favorite films updated with new casts and creative angles, whether prequels, sequels, or remakes. Fatal Attraction, based on the Michael Douglas and Glen Close psychosexual thriller that did for adultery what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean, features the same main characters and the core concept of the 1987 film but expands the plot in a fundamentally distinct direction. This update mines unfamiliar territory compared to the movie version, which works in theory but not necessarily in execution. Fatal Attraction 2023 is almost indistinguishable from the 1987 original and suffers as a result.

Fatal Attraction,Paramount Plus,Joshua Jackson,Lizzy Caplan

The updated Fatal Attraction opens with Dan Gallagher (Joshua Jackson stepping into Michael Douglas’ role), bearded and worn down, as he serves a prison sentence for the murder of Alex Forrester (Lizzy Caplan stepping in for Glen Close). For those familiar with the 1987 film, Dan was a successful attorney whose brief affair with a publishing editor ended with maniacal stalking, which found Dan’s wife Beth (Anne Archer) fatally shooting Alex to protect their family. Here, Beth (Amanda Peet) is not the murderer, and potentially, neither is Dan. That’s right. By expanding a weekend fling into a larger affair, Fatal Attraction also has included a new false imprisonment narrative that reshapes the entire plot to focus on Dan Gallagher’s search for the true murderer of his former lover rather than the tale of a mentally unstable woman seeking revenge for being scorned. Through the eight-episode first season, this new Fatal Attraction shifts between Dan’s present-day reality and the events from fifteen years earlier, leading to the title predicament.

In the new version, Dan is a successful District Attorney who is poised to become a newly appointed judge. His wife, Beth, and daughter, Ellen, are preparing to move into a new home. Working a case, Dan meets Alex Forrester, a victim’s rights advocate, and there is instant chemistry. When the two share a private moment together, it snowballs into a sexual rendezvous that escalates. Dan soon realizes that Alex may be more unstable than he realized and ends the relationship. Alex then begins to exhibit strange behavior, which alarms Dan. Like in the film, he admits the affair to Beth when things take a turn. In the series, Dan relies on his friend, investigator Mike Gerard (Toby Huss), and Detective Earl Booker (Reno Wilson). When Alex is murdered, the prime suspect is Dan, and this shock divides his friends, family, and co-workers as the investigation and trial completely change the lives of everyone involved.


While exploring the relationship and fallout between Dan and Alex does make for interesting television, the investigation element fifteen years later is possibly the most incongruent part of this series. Fatal Attraction worked because it was a pulpy and erotic thriller. Changing it into an indictment of the criminal justice system and a chronicle of female oppression rings hollow. Series creators Alexandra Cunningham and Kevin J. Hynes elicit creative writing from their team. Still, it is strange to follow the now-adult Ellen Gallagher, played by Alyssa Jirrels, as a college student struggling to resolve her emotional relationship with the father she knows as an adulterer and convicted criminal. While Jirrels is good in the role, including her own relationship drama and makeshift fatal attraction-like situation, it feels tacked on and undermines the main plot of the series.

Director Silver Tree, who helms multiple episodes and opens the series, uses the chemistry between Joshua Jackson and Lizzy Caplan to great effect. Jackson, a veteran of the Showtime adultery-themed series The Affair, evokes Dan’s likable, everyman qualities while never making his actions seem justifiable. For her part, Caplan is excellent in a far different performance than the unhinged take Glen Close brought. This Alex Forrester is a hurt person whose expectations are dashed and who makes some bad decisions. Rather than being a bunny-boiling psychopath, she is a realistic portrayal of a woman involved with a married man. Both actors do solid work evoking the multiple layers of navigating an extramarital affair. It is the extended mystery element that doesn’t quite work here. Amanda Peet and Toby Huss do good work here, as they always do. Still, as the revelations about the death of Alex Forrester come to light, it made me question why I had just invested eight hours of my life into a story that strains any sense of logic or credulity while also setting things up for an unnecessary second season.

Fatal Attraction,Paramount Plus,Joshua Jackson,Lizzy Caplan

While the original Fatal Attraction scared legions from having their own affairs, the new version spends far more time explaining and justifying why people cheat. The series feels more like a potboiler than a bunny boiler and never really raises the tension or thrills to a temperature higher than lukewarm. By the end of the season, you will feel more sorry for every character than entertained. This Fatal Attraction is sexy for about two episodes before it becomes a depressing look at the legal system. I will not spoil the big twists, reveals, or turns of this story, but let’s say that in the end, there is a far more interesting story teased that we may never see come to fruition as this Fatal Attraction is underwhelming in every sense of the word.

Fatal Attraction premieres on April 30th on Paramount+.

Fatal Attraction



Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.