TV Review: Why You Should Start 'Playing With Fire' On Netflix

Playing with Fire Jugar Con Fuego Fabrizio Ramรญrez Jason Day Camila Pelรกez Gaby Espino Netflix
Image by Telemundo / Netflix
In the case of watching the sizzling Netflix drama, “Playing with Fire” (“Jugar Con Fuego”) is a good thing. Despite what its title suggests, there is nothing too visually overt about its steamy storyline. At first glance, a tale about blatant lust, the series features nuanced edges about what it means to be a romantic who throws caution to the wind.

Letting anything other than one’s mind have control of your life is a dangerous game. It means navigating an already murky minefield without the tools necessary to make it to safety. If you want to make it to your romantic ending in one piece, “Playing with Fire” proves how much not thinking will get you burned during its binge-worthy Netflix run.

Set in Columbia, “Playing with Fire” starts off hot before settling into the slow burn of an atmosphere boiling with traitors, victims, and villains. Fabrizio (Jason Day) has arrived from Mexico via a mysterious past. He works for a coffee business and is having an affair with the passionate wife of another neighboring coffee magnate.

It is important to note that two competing coffee businesses are operating within close proximity. One is owned by the loving and caring Peter Miller (Tony Plana), the other by the emotionally aloof Jorge (Carlos Ponce). Fabrizio works for the latter. Peter is married to Camila (Gaby Espino), who is cheating on him with Fabrizio.

Little does Jorge know that Fabrizio is threatening to burn up the women in his life, too, including his dissatisfied wife, Martina (Margarita Rosa de Francisco). It is a web of relationships that are tangled beyond belief, and they are all about to get ensnared.

Fabrizio has survived by weaponizing his sexuality, and “Playing with Fire” shows how powerful of a weapon it can be. This is an archetype typically left for women to play, and it is refreshing to see it put in a man’s hands for a change.

As depicted in Russia’s “Locust,” the recent “Far from the Madding Crowd” remake, and in the scary form of real-life via the “Dirty John” TV adaptation, both genders can play the seduction game. Of course, women’s ability to succumb to a man’s full-court press is a secret that benefits both sides.

If you are smelling something other than the scent of hot coffee, you are onto something. While other shows would tell you that what Fabrizio and his married lover have is real love, “Playing with Fire” pours cold water on the notion.

As honest as it is in showcasing the brazen and cold seduction that Fabrizio spins around his lover and those who want to be, the Netflix series attempts to say that he is capable of love too. Perish the thought. He never shows the selflessness such an emotion requires.

“Playing with Fire” works as a complicated drama that is juicy and enthralling. Big drama consumes its very essence as it dives into the disquieting taboo of a mother and daughter falling under Fabrizio’s spell. Thankfully, it holds back from going full “Adore.” A disturbing movie that shoves its selfish characters forward in a way that openly sympathizes with their plight.

“Playing with Fire” is far more subtle in its approach. A move that makes it easier not to have a sickening shutter take hold as the storyline unfolds. This is a cautionary morality tale that allows viewers to draw their own conclusions without castigating them for where they end up. It is an intoxicating watch that grows more and more intriguing with every episode.

By the end, “Playing with Fire” had this viewer firmly in its grip, thirsty to see what twist would happen next. I applaud the story for showcasing how powerful the male gaze can be, albeit I disagree as to someone like Fabrizio changing form. Plus, the woman who supposedly awakens his more mature self holds no personal appeal whatsoever.

The spirited daughter of his boss, Alicia, comes across as entitled as they come. A whiny person who finds fault with those around her and yet offers no solutions to make the crumbling world she sees any better. “Playing with Fire” could not win me over to her side.

While similar to the central romance in “Gran Hotel,” Fabrizio and Alicia’s romance in “Playing with Fire” comes across as nothing more than an opposites-attract scenario. In the real world, there would be no long-term prospects for the couple. That said, fiction loves its fiction.

A breezy binge-watch that is fiery because of its drama and not necessarily the steam it produces in other departments. The captivating performances of the cast only bolster its appeal. As a narrative on the fine line between lust, love, pursuit, and romance, “Playing with Fire” offers an absorbing story destined for extensive contemplation.

Rating: 7.7/10

You can currently stream the entire first season of “Playing with Fire” (“Jugar Con Fuego”) on Netflix.