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Home > Fatal Attraction (2023): Season 1 Review

Fatal Attraction (2023): Season 1 Review

Fatal Attraction Series

A Lackluster Attempt at a Reimaginaton of the 1987 Movie

The 2023 Fatal Attraction Paramount+ series already had big shoes to fill. Most fans of the original 1987 film were hesitant to stream the adaptation, but plenty of newer generations were eager to watch the cheating-scandal-murder-mystery storyline unfold. However, recreating an original cult classic is one of the most difficult tasks to undertake. But welcome to the sequel and reboot era! 

Focusing on a modern-day Dan Gallagher (Joshua Jackson), a successful Los Angeles district attorney who is in line to get promoted, he has everything anyone could want—the perfect wife, home, family, and job. But alas, Dan gets sucked into the realm of scandal when the intelligent and seemingly girl-next-door colleague Alex Forrest (Lizzy Caplan) invites him into a days-long affair. Once she realizes that she means nothing to him other than a week-long stand, Alex exhibits frightening behavior and is apparently hellbent on revenge. Fifteen years into the future is where the show starts off, revealing that Dan served time in prison for the murder of Alex, even though he privately insists that he didn’t commit the crime. 

Despite failing to live up to its predecessor, the Fatal Attraction series offers viewers a well-written mystery. Who really killed Alex, and how does Dan prove to his daughter, Ellen Gallagher (Alyssa Jirrels), that he didn’t do it? 

Setting the Stage

When we begin Fatal Attraction, audiences meet the imprisoned Dan, over 15 years after his affair with Alex took place. In order to be released from jail, Dan must say whatever he needs to, even if it implicates him. 

The start of the series is a strong introduction. Instead of meeting Dan and Alex right away, viewers see where his actions led him to. Prison is not where anyone wants to end up, but Dan is smart. As a former attorney, he knows what criminals need to do in order to get out. But now, he needs to reconnect with his college-aged daughter—a difficult undertaking since this is the guy who cheated on her mom. 

While Ellen’s grown up role is vital to the series, a large portion of the show only tiptoes around what she must face. Her father had an affair while married to her mother, Beth Gallagher (Amanda Peet), and this somehow led to him being accused of murder. How does a parent convince their adult child that they’re innocent even when they painted themselves as guilty? The series would be more intense to follow if we see Ellen’s discomfort around her dad rather than her immediate desire to get to know him. 

What Fatal Attraction does well, however, is setting the stage around Alex’s character. She’s not automatically smitten (or obsessed) with Dan; they’re peers working in the same circle. Fans can recall the original scene between Glenn Close and Michael Douglas. The two are literally oozing with sexual tension to the point where it’s annoying. But Caplan and Jackson’s characters are friendly up until the moment they cross the line. 

Fatal Attraction Series

Different Perspectives

A unique quality about the series is that it features both Dan’s and Alex’s perspectives. Creators Alexandra Cunningham and Kevin J. Hynes knew what they were doing when crafting this story. After all, what audience wants to sit through another thriller with only the cheating liar’s point of view? Everyone wants to go inside the mind of the person who was used and is now lashing out about it.

Caplan gives a solid portrayal of Alex, effortlessly capturing her lighthearted and tranquil demeanor. Just as actors use the “smile eyes” (called “smies” for anyone who doesn’t know), the actress knew how to approach her character with an innocent-looking facial expression. Caplan’s bright eyes take up the full screen, from when she says the famous line, “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan,” to when she struggles to internalize her pain. 

The problem with this character, though, is how she is lacking more depth. Has she always been one to pour toxic chemicals on a car? Does she have it in her to kill anybody? What happened in her past? 

There are many unanswered questions viewers have about this version of Alex, and the movie would have benefited if it had taken the time to unravel this character further. 

With Dan, the sequel series missed out on a great opportunity. Aside from making Dan randomly cheat on his sweet, loving wife just like the 1987 film did, the show could have unfolded certain elements in Dan and Beth’s marriage that made him think it was justifiable to cheat on her. It’s hard to believe that a person would just jump into bed with a person they barely work with. Is he unhappy being a father? Was that job promotion rejection his only self-esteem issue? 

No Motivation 

Since Alex is the mysterious focal point and eventual murder victim (as we learn right from the start), there should be more layers to her character than what is shown. Is she really a violent sociopath? 

It’s easy to like Alex, just as audiences realized in the first film. Before we watch the twisted obsession emerge from her, Alex appears intelligent, down to earth, and overall cool. This is why it’s a hard pill to swallow when she suddenly starts to aggressively attack Dan. From pouring chemicals on his car to entering his home posing as a prospective buyer, Alex’s motivation behind all of this is unclear throughout most of the series. 

It would have worked better if we were introduced to Alex’s past or traumas earlier in the show. Though the murder mystery should understandably last throughout the entire season, viewers could have connected with Alex early on with at least a grain of salt. Instead, we can’t understand what she’s thinking, and it feels as though the show drifts farther away from us as the season progresses—especially during the scene with Beth’s mother at her home. It’s an intense scene; a silently eerie moment but one that we feel detached from altogether. People want to understand the villain nowadays because cinema plays devil’s advocate; what if the antagonist isn’t the bad guy after all? 

Overall, Fatal Attraction is a worthy Monday night binge, but fans over the 1987 film and the newer viewers shouldn’t get their hopes up. 

Fatal Attraction Series

Fatal Attraction (2023): Official Paramount+ Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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