TV Review – ‘Fatal Attraction’ is a Lacking Remake that Doesn’t Truly Take Off

TV Review – ‘Fatal Attraction’ is a Lacking Remake that Doesn’t Truly Take Off

A successful film naturally breeds curiosity for how a long-form version of that same story might be received. In some cases, a television spinoff or remake directly follows a hit movie, to varying degrees of effectiveness. It also doesn’t always happen right away, and a good deal of time may pass in between a film’s positive reception and the eventual premiere of its television version. It’s been three and a half decades since Best Picture nominee Fatal Attraction first debuted in theaters, and now Paramount+ presents an updated version that doesn’t feel quite up to speed with present times.

Standing in for the film’s stars Michael Douglas and Glenn Close are Joshua Jackson and Lizzy Caplan, playing Dan Gallagher and Alex Forrest, respectively. The two meet when Dan, a lawyer, works with Alex, from Victim Services, on a case, and the attraction is immediate, even if it’s not fatal right away. Dan is married to Beth (Amanda Peet) and has a young daughter at home, and his affair begins to take a toll on his professional livelihood and to threaten his family life as well when Alex won’t accept putting their romance second to anything else.

Fatal Attraction
Lizzy Caplan as Alex Forrest and Joshua Jackson as Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction streaming on Paramount+ 2022. Photo credit: Monty Brinton/Paramount+

While things start out idyllically for Dan and Alex, the show introduces the fatal element first. Dan is eligible for parole years after being imprisoned for killing Alex, and his now-adult daughter, Ellen (Alyssa Jirrels), wants nothing to do with the man she’s barely known and doesn’t consider to be her real father. The storyline continues from both the past and the present, with Ellen, frequently seen wearing headphones and seemingly detached from the world around her, wondering whether she’s been wrong about him all along as he fights to prove his innocence, a conclusion that still wouldn’t undo the years and relationships he’s lost with his family.

This is a show that’s trying very hard to capture the spirit of lust and passion found in the original film. Those efforts feel somewhat forced, and the sheer amount of sex is somewhat overbearing. Things escalate without warning and the two central characters are linked so closely after a short period of time in a way that doesn’t feel entirely believable. A banal conversation at a bar about meatballs somehow leads to Dan standing around in his underwear while Alex teaches him German words just a few minutes later, and jumps like that don’t exactly feel natural.

Fatal Attraction
Lizzy Caplan as Alex Forest and Joshua Jackson as Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction episode 3, season 1 streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Moriatis/Paramount+

This series also feels like it’s living around the era where the film came out, with its wigs on particularly prominent display. Jackson wears different hairstyles to differentiate his straight-laced, family man lawyer from the man who has spent years behind bars. The older timeline is meant to feel dated, which doesn’t work as a tremendous asset for the show, instead making its events feel slower in pace and therefore more jarring when things suddenly become passionate without much buildup. The score by Craig DeLeon does enhance the overall mood of the series, even if it often feels like it’s more convincingly guiding the show than the plot itself.

Jackson and Caplan are both capable performers who have led TV series competently in the past, with Dr. Death and Fleishman is in Trouble very worthwhile recent examples. They should be the perfect fits for these roles, but there’s something that’s missing in the execution. This saga is full of intrigue and sex, but the entire setup feels contrived and unrealistic. The show’s title is informative enough so that viewers should find the kind of context that they expect, but there’s little that feels vital or fresh about this particular take.

Grade: C

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

The first three episodes of Fatal Attraction premiere Sunday, April 30th on Paramount+, with new episodes dropping weekly on Sundays through May 28th.

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