Parasite As Good TV?

Posted by Stephanie on January 14, 2020


When I was in Vermont Koreaning it up with my beloved McFeeleys, the crowning achievement on the list was when we found out the much-acclaimed Korean movie Parasite was playing in a tiny art theater in St Johnsbury the night before I left. Realizing it was the perfect capper to all the Korean food, music, and tv we’d consumed, we eagerly agreed to leave the Junior McFeeley to her own devices and trek to the theater (homemade triangle kimbap successfully tucked away in our pockets.)

Coming out of the theater, 2+ hours later, we were all a little stunned, not sure what it was that we’d just seen. The movie is excellent. If it comes to your area, do yourself a favor and go, even if you have no interest in going to see the movie. This is a Korean movie in your town, in your theater, and it’s a big step for us long term fans.

I’m going to try my hardest to not make this a review of the movie as that’s not what this post is about, and the movie deserves a much more in-depth look. So what is this post? In theory, it’s going to be a commentary on the idea of it being turned into a show for HBO.  (Ahead is spoiler-free terrain.)

The fangirl part of me, the very one who urged you to go see the movie if it hits your town is thrilled to pieces. Yesterday Parasite was nominated for 6 Acadamy Awards including Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Editing,  and Best Production Design. While everyone knew the movie was getting buzz, sure it was going to be a shoo-in for Foreign Language Film, the others were a surprise…especially Best Picture. (Though, the production design in this movie was pretty astounding.)

As we revel in the victory for Bong Joon Ho, we were hit with the news of the deal with HBO to turn Parasite into a limited series. I want to be very excited, but I think I’m left with questions only time can answer. Does the movie even need this? Is there enough story left to tell? While the whole thing didn’t really wrap up with a pretty bow I think that was part of the point of the movie itself, that being said, my one usual issue with Korean movies is the fact that they try to cram so much into them, I’m left with the feeling the movie would have made a better TV show. This wasn’t the case with Parasite,  I think its success, plot, tone, and pacing was was that it was so sparse with details, it helped with the “What the hell is going on?” feeling I had throughout the movie — even Bong Joon Ho who was also the writer, mentions there was a lot more he had wanted to put in but restrained himself.

Example: Who else thought there was something hinky going on with Rich Family? Something wasn’t quite right and it was never explained to us. Did the poor son really think he was going to get away with his future plans for the daughter? Or was he playing it up for his family the whole time? Or is this me trying to make him a better person?

Then there’s the question of whether audiences will care now that they know the ultimate ending. A lot of the tight workup to the movie was the building to the shocking climax of the story. You can’t tell me that anyone saw that coming. If I come into the end, knowing where it’s going would I still watch? Would it be as exciting?

My final question is, will this tv show be Korean, or US-based? Will they translate it to the wider audience, or will they keep it in tone with the source material? This is very much a story of the Korean class system, the obliviousness of the higher class over the lower. I WANT TO SPOIL SO MUCH HERE. Will this dynamic work as much here in the US? Think of what the poor family was able to sneak through and get away with. And sure, there are definite class systems here, but I think, the difference is people know, realize, about the suffering of others, they just don’t care. (I admit, this statement doesn’t make a lot of sense out of context, but for those of you, I’m thinking of how rich family acted at the end while putting together the party. The total obliviousness of what happened the previous night was shocking, spinning, giving a view into just how unclassy the higher class can be.)

Anyway. I guess we’ll see what happens. As the show is being done for HBO, my guess is we’re not going to have to worry about it for a long, long, long time.


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