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Previewing Fatal Attraction 

Previewing Fatal Attraction

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

True story. A thousand years ago when I was in high school, I worked at a movie theater, and one of my clearest memories was watching the body language of couples as they left screenings of Fatal Attraction. That the film about an adulterous affair gone very, very wrong is now 36 years old boggles my mind. Glenn Close’s “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan,” is still a great go-to, and I take much twisty joy that in today’s world, we have the GIF to go with it.

Fatal Attraction

Paramount released the film in 1987 and is now diving back into its own intellectual property (IP) to take the murderous tale for a spin as an eight-episode series starring Joshua Jackson as Dan Gallagher, an LA district attorney on the cusp of a judge appointment and his 40th birthday, and Lizzy Caplan as Alex Forrest, a victim’s rights advocate who turns up in court one day and rattles his cool demeanor almost immediately.

Where the story veers from the OG is that it traffics in two timelines — 2023 when Dan is up for parole for Alex’s murder, and 2008 when they met and began their affair. The 2008 thread sets the tone for who Dan was — seemingly happily married to Beth (Amanda Peet) and father to a young daughter, Ellen, with a successful career and a limitless future. Until one domino in that carefully curated and presumed path forward falls and he makes a cavalier mistake, followed by another and another until he burns it all to the ground.

Fatal Attraction

Over the course of the season, we weave in and out of both arcs. In 2008, we watch the affair begin and take hold. Dan finds something in Alex he didn’t know he was looking for, but that idyll quickly fades when Alex expects a commitment he can’t make, surfacing old traumas when she can’t let him go.

In 2023, the timeline is anchored by Dan’s path to redemption with the help of his long-ago BFF and investigator, Mike (Toby Huss), alongside the path of his now-grown daughter, Ellen (Alyssa Jirrels), as she tries to reconcile what she witnessed, what she was told, what she believed, and what really happened — and who she has become through that refracted lens of chaos.

Fatal Attraction

It’s a slow burn, taking advantage of the eight-episode arc to lay out the story, and the evidence, if you will, while also deftly making us very uncomfortable at the repeated bad decisions and actions we’re witnessing. The whole cast is aces. Jackson does well showing two incarnations of Dan — carefree and walking a sliding scale of morality then and chagrined now, recognizing that his recklessness and deliberate choices wrought havoc for his family and friends, most especially his daughter.

Fatal Attraction

Caplan played a similar role in the first season of Truth Be Told, and here she’s equally bold and aggressive and empathetic and vulnerable as a character with a tenuous grasp on her mental health. I’m glad to see Peet have a big role here, playing a woman rocked by a terrible sequence of life-changing events that forced her life into a hard reset. Jirrels is new to me, and she’s also good in a complicated part as a young woman trying to figure out Dan’s truth and her own.

Fatal Attraction premieres its first two episodes at 3:01 am Sunday, April 30th, on Paramount+. Here’s a sneak peek.

Photos courtesy of Monty Brinton and Michael Moriatis/Paramount+.

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