If we had to describe Fatal Seduction, Season 1, Part 1, in brief, we would say that it is just another decent mindless watch. All the characters are doing what they are meant to, and nothing is too complicated. Yet we found ourselves annoyed at the female desire seen through the male gaze. First of all, anything with the words “fatal” and “attraction” always means that it is a case of a married person cheating with someone highly inappropriate, a secretary, a student, or just someone they shouldn’t be with. This person almost always has some mental health issues, and they end up getting obsessed with them, and that is what makes these supposed affairs “fatal.” There is an inherent flaw in these stories that is very cleverly disguised. If the man is the cheater, it is because he wants to break the monotony of the relationship with his devoted wife.
If the woman is cheating, she is being “rescued” from this very monotony brought on by a detached husband and a child who is drifting further away from her for whatever reason. We bring this up because the title and the narrative suggest that this is a story about the consequences of the wrong kind of desire, and what is wrong looks very different for men and women, negating the arbitrariness and independence of desire itself. This is because there is a need to write a protagonist that the audience will like, and people do not like women who behave with the same entitlement as men. Take the case of another series, The Affair, for example. We are specifically talking about Season 1 of it, where the man stepped out of his marriage due to an annoying relative, despite having a loving wife and kids.
As for the woman, her excuse was, as we said before, a distant husband and the death of a child. It is as if women can only feel desire as a coping mechanism for grief because let us not forget that even Nandi of Fatal Seduction was going through these exact same things when she met Jacob. She had known that the marriage was over for years, but it was these specific circumstances that pushed her toward Jacob. It was written this way because the audience needed to be able to make an excuse for her behavior and root for her. Her tragedy must be valid enough to defend her transgression, whereas onscreen men need no such thing. They can do whatever they want, and they only realize it was a mistake when the person they are having an affair with goes completely crazy over them.
Coming back to Fatal Seduction, we were also disappointed by the objectification of the actual adultery. It was a letdown of sorts, and it never ceases to surprise us how supposed moments of empowerment of women are commodified for the consumption of men. Take any example, be it The Affair, Reasonable Doubt, or this particular series: the scenes where a woman is supposedly taking control of what she wants and needs are tailored to fit the stereotype that suits men. But on the other hand, if you had to see what an intimate scene shot for the female gaze looks like, we would recommend Outlander or Fleabag. The woman’s mind is an important part in things like that, and a series named Fatal Seduction, which is based on a woman, should not have missed that.
We are going into the philosophy of this series so much because there is very little to the story otherwise. It is simply fine and predictable in so many ways, especially once you let 3–4 episodes go by. We like that Zinhle, the daughter of Nandi and Leonard, is not a complete brat, unlike other teenagers in such a series. Leonard is a predictable chauvinist, and Nandi is just the person stuck in between everyone. We are not fond of the fact that her personality is that she is pushed around by the circumstances. She suspected her husband was having an affair, so she went and had one of her own. When things became clear to her, she reconciled with him, not caring that she had the divorce papers ready to go. It is one thing that she is not guilty about her affair, but the whimsy, push and pull she does with Jacob gets on our nerves. Also, maybe it is because of the name of the show, but everyone seems to have been intimate with each other at some point or another. Shows based on intimacy certainly have us looking warily at the screen, but unless things are tastefully done, the cringe factor creeps in very fast.
Certain things were not shown in Part 1 of Fatal Seduction, but we know that they are coming in Part 2, and we are already dreading it. Part 1 should have been five episodes. We did not need or care about a lot of the tension building, considering the predictability of the story. The ups and downs of Nandi and Jacob’s relationship annoy us the most due to the former’s flakiness. The affair is not supposed to be aggravating, but it is supposed to be what you secretly root for. That is what makes it “seduction” and why it is so dangerous. This series really did not get its balancing act right, and with all the cards on the table towards the end of Part 1 of Season 1 of Fatal Seduction, we wonder what is left for the coming episodes of Part 2. Maybe instead of Part 1 being 5 episodes long, the entire series could have been about 8 episodes, each 40 minutes in length. That would have made this a lot more crisp, considering the simplicity of the storyline.
We always find ourselves deciding whether to watch something or not at the end of a review. In this case, we would ask you to remember that though we have found a lot to criticize in Fatal Seduction, we will still say that it is good enough for a mindless watch, maybe as some white noise while you do some other work. There are only a few minutes where you really need to pay attention, and the rest of it can be on autopilot. We would recommend this series for such a watch, and we have yet to see whether the remainder of the story makes us change our opinion.