What is Obsession about? Netflix erotic series explained


Obsession, Netflix’s new erotic-thriller series, is bound to be your next, erm, obsession – here’s what it’s about, who’s in the cast, and if it’s worth watching.

When adapting an erotic book for the big or small screen, it’s very easy to tip over the edge from sexy and seductive to gratuitous and vapid. Just look at what happened to the 50 Shades of Grey movie – though diehard fans might stand by Sam Taylor-Johnson’s 2015 iteration, it didn’t fare so well with audiences and critics alike, scoring a respective 24% and 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

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Still, Netflix has been having a bash at it of late, with its recent drama series Sex/Life coming (and going) and now Obsession set to take charge. The new entry, adapted from Josephine Hart’s novella Damage, will offer viewers something more than just steamy sex scenes, as it also features an “edge-of-your-seat thriller element” to keep viewers enthralled. 

With all four episodes of Obsession streaming now, and still holding its position on the Netflix top 10 chart, here’s everything you need to know about the new limited series. 

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What is Obsession about?

Obsession on Netflix offers a modern spin on Josephine Hart’s book Damage, telling the “thrilling and seductive” story of a woman who becomes entangled in a love triangle after falling for her fiance’s father. 

Check out the trailer below:

The official synopsis, as per Netflix, reads: “A contemporary adaptation of Josephine Hart’s novella, Damage, the story centers around a dangerous love triangle that emerges when the enigmatic Anna Barton embarks on a passionate affair with her fiance’s father, William.

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“Whilst Anna fights to sustain both relationships, William is drawn into an obsessive spiral. But how long can they keep their secret hidden before someone gets hurt?”

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, who adapted the 1991 novel for Netflix, spoke about her ambitions of shifting the perspective to tell the story from Anna’s viewpoint. Although the book was made into a 1992 movie of the same name, she was sure to steer clear of the film as she didn’t want it to influence her adaptation. 

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“I loved the book, which is an amazing page-turning, erotic thriller, but it was written entirely from a man’s point of view,” Malcolm explained. “Anna, his lover, is portrayed as a kind of vamp who comes into the family, blows everything up and then disappears. Her primary function is to serve the purpose of what the male lead needs. 

“I said, ‘If I’m going to do this, I want to make sure I dig into Anna and why she behaves in the way she does.’ I wanted to try and understand the characters in the story – and especially Anna – in a way that wasn’t just two-dimensional.”

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Obsession cast: Who’s in it?

Netflix’s Obsession cast includes:

  • Charlie Murphy as Anna
  • Richard Armitage as William
  • Indira Varma as William’s wife Ingrid
  • Rish Shah as Anna’s fiance Jay

Armitage, best known for his role in The Hobbit film trilogy, said playing the cheating husband in Obsession didn’t come easy. “I carried it around like a heavy feeling in my chest,” he said. “Even in the green room between scenes with Indira (playing my wife, Ingrid) I’d struggle to look her in the eye.”

That being said, he was “fascinated” by the role, and “what leads a very successful man, with a really good marriage, a great family and, really, nothing wrong in his life, to risk everything.”

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netflix obsession indira varma ingrid farrowNetflix
Family together at breakfast

As for Murphy, who’s starred in a number of big name series including Happy Valley and Peaky Blinders, though she was fascinated by Damage – the novella and the movie – she was excited about Obsession being a different kind of erotic thriller.

She said: “It was going to be so much more empowering to my character, Anna Barton. I read the script and thought, ‘Oh my God, 100 percent yes to this.’ And I couldn’t have been more right. It was the most dynamic and fun role I could ever have imagined.”

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Is Obsession worth watching?

Well, maybe… Obsession currently holds a 42% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Collider gave it a B grade, writing: “Obsession is definitely one of the steamiest projects to come out so far this year, but it also doesn’t shy away from both the ugly and honest aspects of the affair… Despite a weaker conclusion, Obsession is still a top-tier erotic thriller.”

Unfortunately, the BBC’s review wasn’t quite on the same page. “The actors are doing their best with the material they’ve been given but the problem is that we just don’t care about any of the characters,” it said.

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However, many outlets made the same joke – Obsession will be your next TV obsession. And if you’re looking for some steamy escapism with a thrilling plot and sexual exploration throughout, you may want to give the new Netflix outing a go. Just don’t watch it with your family.

Obsession is available to stream on Netflix now. You can find out more about the show’s cast here, if there’ll be a Season 2 here, and check out our other Netflix hubs below: 

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