What is Fatal Attraction about? TV remake explained

Chris Tilly
Still from Fatal Attraction

There’s a new adaptation of Fatal Attraction heading to the small-screen, so here’s everything you need to know about what it’s about, and how it compares to the original.

Fatal Attraction was one of the most influential films of the 1980s. It was also one of the most controversial, kicking off the “blank from hell” sub-genre, and helping to coin the phrase “bunny-boiler.”

Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer starred, and the movie was a box office smash. But 1987’s Fatal Attraction wasn’t the first version of this particular story, with writer James Dearden shooting the concept as a 40-minute short called Diversion in 1979.

There’s a star-studded TV take on the material launching on Paramount+ this weekend, so here’s everything you need to know about the plot of the new Fatal Attraction. So BEWARE OF POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD

What is Fatal Attraction about? TV remake explained

The official synopsis for the Fatal Attraction show is as follows: “A passionate affair takes a volatile and dangerous turn when a woman refuses to allow her married lover to put an end to it.”

The trailer description pitches the show as “a deep-dive reimagining of the classic psychosexual thriller and ‘80s cultural touchstone.”

Here’s how that compares to the logline for that “cultural touchstone” in question: “Michael Douglas plays Dan Gallagher, a New York attorney who has a tryst with seductive Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) while his wife (Anne Archer) is away. Dan later shrugs off the affair as a mistake and considers it over. But Alex won’t be ignored. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever… even if it means destroying Dan’s family to keep him.”

How the TV show will differ to the movie

We know from the above trailer that this new Fatal Attraction has Dan in jail for the murder of Alex, and trying to prove his innocence. Which is a huge departure. Meanwhile, star Lizzy Caplan – who plays this version of Alex – has stated that the “bunny-boiler” scene will be different.

The 1987 movie was also criticised for turning Forrest into something of a pantomime villain at the end, as well as its treatment of mental illness, both of which this new version is addressing.

Caplan explained the changes to The Hollywood Reporter: “I feel like the narrative of the film — which is like, ‘Nice guy, horrible woman, must die’ — I think it’s really promising how far we’ve come as a culture where now audiences want to know, ‘Well, wait a minute, let’s talk more about her, her possible mental illnesses, her upbringing.’

“And let’s maybe have him suffer some repercussions in his own personal life. It’s one of the few examples of something that made sense to me to go back.”

Who stars in the new Fatal Attraction?

This time around, Joshua Jackson plays the man at the center of the pseudo-love triangle, Amanda Peet is his wife, and Caplan plays the woman with whom he has an affair.

The main cast is as follows…

  • Joshua Jackson is Dan Gallagher
  • Lizzy Caplan is Alex Forrest
  • Amanda Peet is Beth Gallagher
  • Alyssa Jirrels is Ellen Gallagher
  • Toby Huss is Mike Gerard
  • Reno Wilson is Det. Earl Booker
  • Brian Goodman is Arthur Tomlinson

Fatal Attraction starts this Sunday, while we’ve written about whether Fatal Attraction is based on a true story here.

About The Author

Chris Tilly is the TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Newspaper Journalism, and over the last 20 years, he's worked for the likes of Time Out, IGN, and Fandom. Chris loves Star Wars, Marvel, DC, sci-fi, and especially horror, while he knows maybe too much about Alan Partridge. You can email him here: chris.tilly@dexerto.com.