To say that Parasite has set the movie-watching world on fire would be an understatement. We’re all burning alive in its class-based rage and loving it. After a first of its kind Academy Award win for Best Picture and plenty of good ol’ monetary success in the American box office, it’s safe to say that Bong Joon-ho’s tale of class struggle has resonated deeply with the public–or that people have decided that this will be the one subtitled movie they’ll watch to seem smart. Either way, a lot of eyes and minds are on Parasite.
This, without a hint of irony, means that the American capitalist machine is already hard at work churning out its own revision of Parasite. Indeed, even prior to its landmark win, HBO was moving forward with plans to make the two-hour movie into a series.
How would America, a bastion of free trade and open markets, grapple with the struggle at Parasite‘s core? How could we suspend our disbelief long enough to imagine famous American actors as desperate, impoverished people trying to scrape by? Earlier than expected, we have our answer, and it’s about as bad as you’d guess.
Without even so much as a cast yet announced, we have received our first leaked look at what an American Parasite series may morph into. A small trove of scripts and outlines for the six-part series have landed on the dark web, and after paying .00025% of a Bitcoin to a shady entity running blockchains through the cloud, I can share with the public what I’ve learned. Whether or not these are ideas that Bong Joon-ho has since rejected (or if indeed he has that power) remains unknown. All that’s sure is that this adaptation is a bit more friendly to the ruling class–and their advertisers.
I’ve included summaries and snippets of scripts from the planned series.
Parastie: Beverly Hills
Tagline:Working for the rich is such a bitch!
Synopsis: The Juarez family is an impoverished immigrant unit living in a basement apartment and looking to achieve the American Dream. When given the opportunity to teach Spanish for a family of Beverly Hills socialites, they jump at the prospect–but become far too greedy for their own good and ruin the lives of all around them like the bad people they are.
Episode One sees our young hero Juan Juarez, a son of immigrants, trying to hack out a life of his own in California. He works for GrubHub while his dad, Miguel works for Uber. His sister, Juanita does nothing but take selfies, and their mother, Lupa fills out online surveys. We see them after they all just bought a bunch of new iPhones but can’t afford the internet bill. They complain about how it’s weird that after they spend all their money, they run out of it. Luckily for them, family-friend Lopez arrives and offers a scheme that could make them all the money they need. He takes Juan to Arby’s where Juan learns that Lopez will be deported soon.
Episode Two sees the family enjoying their newfound wealth and seems like a bunch of filler, to be honest. We see the family talk about how much they love buying iPads and eating at Red Lobster before a near-twenty minute montage of them buying clothes at the mall. I can barely decipher the script, because it just seems to be a crush of brand names. Anyway, the bit of story that does occur is that Juan convinces Elizabeth Goodkind to hire his sister as little Billy Goodkind’s art instructor. Upon meeting her, Elizabeth has suspicions.
Episode Three has a bit more plot than the previous one. It shows Juanita drop a piece of contraband in the back of the Goodkinds’ car while being taken home. This is used as a devious means to oust the driver.
Then, Juan and Juanita impetuously push for some amazing driver they both know–their dad, of course–to chauffeur the Goodkinds. They’re growing suspicious since both Juan and Juanita smell just like those McDonald’s coupons, but are just too kind and good to say no–as long as Miguel is able to pass Richard Goodkind’s standard driving test.
Following the episode-per-ousting format, Four focuses entirely on the family’s aggressive tactics to remove Hilda, a benevolent maid that the Goodkinds inherited with the mansion and has worked under them for years without complaint, by exploiting her hereditary cat allergy.
Episode Five brings the meat (like this show constantly reminds us Arby’s does), where in the Juarez family stays overnight while the Goodkinds head out on their camping trip. Of course, this leads to the expected confrontation with the ex-maid who needs to get down to the secret bunker below the house–but in this case it’s a tad swankier than what we see in the Korean original.
Episode Six, the finale, brings us to Parasite‘s epic climax. Now, for little Billy Goodkind’s birthday party the Juarez family are all gathered (and paid extra!) to help set up and make the celebration a day to remember. Juan looks out among the group and wonders about his own place in society.
Then, in an attempt to oust all those pesky freeloaders from the fallout shelter so the Juarezes can use it for themselves, Juanita finds a bunch of cats in some dumpsters, collects them in some diamond-encrusted, fur-lined, Louis Vuitton cat carriers, and then dumps them all in the fallout shelter. The genetic cat allergy takes its toll on the basement dwellers.
So, alas the cats come scattering out into the back yard just as Richard and Miguel move to spring out at the birthday boy (the American version retains the Indian costumes, by the way), along with the Hilda’s entire family.
After the drama has come to its end, the bulk of the Juarez family faces no consequences for their disreputable actions, all because Elizabeth is just much too nice a lady. The murderous Miguel, however, will have to be prosecuted. No one can find him, though. Even after months, all leads come up dry. One day, Juan gets an email from a secure address–and it’s from his father. He’s living out of the fallout shelter (which has amazing WiFi access) and is doing great. Though he’s told not to worry and just be happy that his dad gets to live in the mega plush basement of the rich, Juan decides that he must find a way to obtain the house for himself and set his dad free.
And so he does!
That’s where it all ends, and honestly it’s probably about as much as we could expect. I can’t imagine Time Warner has much interest in pursuing a class-warfare tale with much genuine interest, but the Parasite name makes money so it too must be dragged through the profiteering mud. Consumerism eats all it sees, and so too goes a modern classic down its gullet.
You do have to admit, though, that it probably will be American enough to impress America’s current commander in chief. It might not be quite as racist as Gone with the Wind, but it’ll do!
Such a shame. But maybe there’s still hope. A lot of time stands between now and when HBO will air the series. Maybe Bong Joon-ho will talk some sense into the studio. Maybe one person involved in creative decision making will somehow not be a millionaire. Only time will tell.