District Attorney Dan Gallagher (Jackson) is apparently married to Beth (Peet). When he embarks on an affair with co-worker Alex Forrest (Caplan), he soon discovers that his mistress is deeply unstable – and possibly a danger to her family.
Broadcast on: Paramount+
Watched episodes: 8 out of 8
We all know this story, don’t we? High-powered single career woman Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) has a weekend affair with a married lawyer (Michael Douglas) and becomes increasingly unhinged after discerning her disinterest in continuing their relationship, preferring to stay with his wife and young daughter. . Fatal attractiona cornerstone of erotic thrillers, directed by genre expert Adrian Lyne (see also: Indecent Proposal And Unfaithful) and a box office hit when it was released in 1987, has entered the cultural lexicon in a way that makes it almost sacrilegious to imagine it being remade.
That brings us to the eight-part Paramount+ series that does just that, though the showrunner and mostly female writers have promised a drastic overhaul of the classic’s (sleazy) gender politics. Joshua Jackson is Dan Gallagher, a shrewd and quietly arrogant lawyer whose calm and cheerful outer family life hides ambitions and rather unruly tempers. He meets a Victim Services legal aid attorney, Alex (Lizzy Caplan, all watchful dark eyes and unsettling poise), and they soon begin a case destined to end sadly and fatally, as that title promises. .
The show’s superficial focus on depicting mental health makes it fairly innocuous.
But by the time the reasonably well-choreographed sex scenes began, any flicker of interest in the couple faded. Caplan and Jackson stare at each other meaningfully, crack jokes and shyly watch their cocktails, before finally ripping each other’s clothes and tangling their limbs with apparent abandon, but all of the above is executed with very little actual chemistry.
There’s been a glut of revamps of erotic thrillers lately, reimagined for a new post-MeToo generation. Yet despite its creator’s promises to the contrary, this series does surprisingly little with key plot points that make them seem more focused on female empowerment. The “rabbit boiler” archetype is fleshed out more as a woman with a troubled background and what appears to be a personality disorder, but the show’s superficial focus on depicting mental health makes it fairly innocuous. .
Set in the present day with flashbacks, the show also depicts the aftermath of the affair, following Gallagher’s adult daughter, Ellen (Alyssa Jirrels). It seems this new centering of the girl and exploration of the impact of Dan’s actions on the family is another of the series’ attempts to portray a more feminine point of view in a traditionally rather anti-feminist story. And yet, we still end up with abused, suffering, and aggressive, “crazy” women, all of whom are in some way punished for their existence.
Visually, too, the series’ dark, corporate hallways, courtrooms, and tasteful interiors are neither expressive enough to be black nor carefully drawn enough to claim true authenticity. The result is something that more or less does the job without ever evoking a mood or feeling beyond “boring”.
Without any clear idea of how it wants to portray female victimization and aggression, this show does little with the erotic thriller material it borrows from. A boiled rabbit is better than a cold fish.
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