parasite limited series

In my mind, Bong Joon-ho‘s Parasite is the movie of 2019: it’s a twisty, subversive thriller about class and income inequality, told by a master at the peak of his powers. It appears that HBO also liked what they saw, because a new report says the premium channel is currently in negotiations for a Parasite limited series, which would team Bong Joon-ho with Succession‘s Adam McKay. Details are still scarce – so scarce, in fact, that most of my feelings about this limited series hinge on one huge, unanswered question.

The Hollywood Reporter brings us word about the Parasite show, and one sentence in their report hurls a giant question mark into the proceedings: “It is unclear if the limited series will be some sort of follow-up to the movie or an English-language remake.” There is a gigantic difference between those two things. While I’m not thrilled about the notion of an English-language remake, a follow-up to the film might be an even worse idea. Parasite‘s heartbreaking gut-punch of an ending is one of our favorite movie moments of last year, and to continue that story seems like it could rob the film of some of its power.

According to the report, “Bong and McKay would adapt the movie for an English-language limited series” and executive produce as well, though it’s unclear if either of them will be directing or just writing the scripts for this mysterious iteration.

It makes sense that McKay would be interested in Parasite: the film’s exploration of wealth, class, greed, and power is very much in line with McKay’s cinematic interests over the past decade as evidenced in things like The Big Short, Vice, and Succession. I’m a bit concerned that McKay’s sledgehammer approach could sand away some of what makes Parasite so artful, but I suppose I’ll take solace in the hope that if Bong is involved, things shouldn’t get too out of hand.

Evidently there was a bidding war for this project, and HBO ended up beating out Netflix. An official deal hasn’t been finalized yet, but talks are in progress as we speak.

Last summer, the vice president of CJ Entertainment, the South Korean company that produced Parasite, told us that an English-language Parasite remake was not in the cards, adding, “Right now, in terms of our approach to these remixes, we typically don’t aggressively try to remake these prestige movies or movies that have been critically acclaimed.” Something has apparently changed since then, and I can only hope it’s that Bong himself has come up with an approach that he feels will do justice to his original movie.

Personally, I find it depressing that an adaptation is in the works when the movie just came out and is an incredible, entertaining experience on its own. Plus, the thought that American audiences aren’t willing to read subtitles – even for a movie that’s this acclaimed – is truly sad to me. As Bong himself said at the Golden Globes: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Parasite has a good chance at being nominated for multiple Oscars this coming Monday morning, so stay tuned to /Film to find out what the Academy thinks of it. In the meantime, check out the trailer below:

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