Impatient for more ‘Squid Game’? A guide to its creator’s films to hold you over

A woman in a green tracksuit with the number "067" printed on it
Jung Ho-yeon as Kang Sae-byeok in “Squid Game.”
(Noh Juhan / Netflix)

Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone whose love of Korean film and TV only starts with “Squid Game.”

In this week’s edition, the history-making Emmy nominee, which took Netflix (and the world) by storm when it premiered last fall, inspires staff writer Michael Ordoña to recommend three pre-”Squid Game” movies from series creator Hwang Dong-hyuk; plus, TV critic Robert Lloyd recommends a newer addition to the platform’s enviable K-drama slate, “Extraordinary Attorney Woo.”

Plus, we catch up with “Amber Brown” creator / “Jumanji” icon Bonnie Hunt, celebrate the return of “Harley Quinn” and hear from a reader about their favorite sitcom to binge. If you’d like to be included in our next issue, send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to with your name and location. Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and are subject to editing for length and clarity.



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Alicia Vikander in “Irma Vep.”
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HBO’s dazzling ‘Irma Vep’ is just the TV series to restore your faith in movies: With Alicia Vikander as a Hollywood star acting in a French crime serial, Olivier Assayas’ series refracts his 1996 masterpiece through a dizzyingly playful prism.

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Prime Video’s new sci-fi adventure isn’t the next ‘Stranger Things.’ It’s better: A quartet of 12-year-olds becomes caught between warring time travelers in “Paper Girls,” one of the year’s best TV shows.


Turn on

Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times

Two animated female superheroes standing in a darkened house
A scene from Season 3 of “Harley Quinn.”
(HBO Max)

This week marks the return of one of the best shows set in the larger DC universe, “Harley Quinn” (HBO Max). This very much adult animated series follows the iconic villain as she wreaks increasing havoc with the new crew she assembled after breaking up with the Joker, proving she was always meant to be more than a sidekick. Season 3 picks up with Harlivy — best friends turned girlfriends Harley and Poison Ivy — luxuriating in their honeymoon phase after driving off into the sunset together in the Season 2 finale. Of course, the couple eventually has to rejoin the real world back in Gotham, which means figuring out what they want and need from their relationship while navigating the routine challenges involved with being a villain. The series continues to package its gleefully explicit cartoon violence and outrageous situations with exploration of deeper themes around relationships, intimacy, trauma, ambition and more, while playfully skewering familiar superhero tropes along the way. —Tracy Brown

In the globally popular “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” (Netflix), Park Eun-bin plays Woo Young-woo, South Korea’s first lawyer with autism spectrum disorder. (South Korea also provided the original for “The Good Doctor,” in which Freddie Highmore plays a surgeon with the disorder.) The tone of the series is largely whimsical, and often comic, though never mocking. (Her behavioral quirks might be foregrounded, but it’s never in doubt who the heroine is.) It’s also romantic, and can turn serious as well, with some long-arc, soap-operatic threads. There are office politics; there is love in the air. The cases, which are interesting in themselves, cover a range of subjects — like any good legal series, it’s a sort of cultural tour — and the show appropriately stands up for the individual against the group and modern thought against empty tradition. Young-woo’s autism is not a superpower— it is sometimes an obstacle — but it is dramatically inevitable that she sees things in a way her associates can’t. (Sometimes this will have to do with whales, which she loves as much as the law.) And despite her social awkwardness, the series builds a supportive community around her, including Jeon Bae-soo as her father, who studied law but runs a diner; Joo Hyun-young as her best friend; Kang Ki-young as her initially doubting, soon lovely superior; and boy-band handsome Kang Tae-oh as a colleague and potential suitor. —Robert Lloyd

Catch up

Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about

A number of people in green track suits crouched on the ground, guarded by people in pink track suits
A scene from “Squid Game.”

If “Squid Game” fans were wondering what else creator Hwang Dong-hyuk can do, the answer, apparently, is “everything.”

Netflix is streaming three of his four feature films, and what a dazzling display of versatility they are. Although they vary wildly in topic and genre, they’re bound by Hwang’s masterful visuals, unerring storytelling sense and social concerns.

2011’s “Silenced” (a.k.a. “The Crucible”) announced him as a consequential artist. It’s a bare-knuckled, fact-based exposé (based on a nonfiction book) of the horrendous abuse inflicted on young students at a school for deaf people. The unflinching depiction of reportedly real-life horrors may trigger some, and outrage even more, but it never feels exploitive or preachy. Public response to this evisceration of a rotten judicial system actually sparked legislation to address one of the problems highlighted by the film.

“Miss Granny” (2014) may cause whiplash if you see it next: It’s a wacky, Hollywood-style, high-concept comedy that became a major box-office hit. The first 10 minutes or so feel like a drama about a disappointed person living in grievance. Then the gag — one American audiences might find familiar — kicks in, and it’s suddenly hilarious. (I recommend viewers avoid the synopsis.) Shim Eun-kyung won a boatload of honors for a lead performance that’s utterly silly, yet still grounded; the satisfying emotional payoff couldn’t have landed had her work been less skillful. There’s so much pop singing in the film, it’s practically a musical, semi-romantic comedy, but it retains Hwang’s sharp criticism of materialism and shallow concerns.

Finally, “The Fortress” (2017) is a period war epic set during the Joseon Dynasty’s last-ditch effort to fend off the Qing dynasty’s 1636 invasion. Among its many awards: best film and director from the Korean Assn. of Film Critics. Lee Byung-hun and Kim Yoon-seok are compelling as two of the king’s top advisors, principled men who deeply disagree. While it does contain genre hallmarks — frenzied combat, gorgeous cinematography, lush score by Ryuichi Sakamoto — the movie’s true identity is a blistering critique of the unfeeling foolishness and hypocrisy of the ruling class. “The Fortress” occupies a cinematic nexus among the likes of “Gallipoli,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Troy.” Yeah, I said it.

Special bonus joy for “Squid” fans can be found in spotting faces from the series in these three films. There are many. —Michael Ordoña

Guest spot

A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching

A young girl looks out the window while drawing with colored pencils on a notepad
Carsyn Rose stars in Bonnie Hunt’s series adaptation of Paula Danziger’s “Amber Brown” books.
(Apple TV+)

To a certain subset of millennials (and likely their parents), Bonnie Hunt is synonymous with family-friendly comedy. My siblings and I wore out our VHS tapes of “Beethoven” (1992) and “Jumanji” (1995) through incessant rewatching, and I often caught her ABC sitcom “Life With Bonnie” (2002-04) while channel surfing with my mom. (As a budding cinephile, I even remember being fascinated by her 2002 film “Stolen Summer,” the first produced as part of HBO’s “Project Greenlight.”) So it’s comforting to know that a new generation will be able to experience Hunt’s talents — in this case as creator, writer and director — with “Amber Brown,” premiering Friday on Apple TV+. Screen Gab asked Hunt how she discovered Paula Danziger’s beloved children’s book series, what she’s watching and more. —Matt Brennan

What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?

I really enjoyed “The Bear” on Hulu. It’s character-driven, with a profound emotional event at the core; the writing, directing, acting, music are all excellent. So happy it was just renewed for a second season.

What’s your go-to “comfort watch,” the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?

“The Andy Griffith Show” (multiple platforms; in syndication on TV Land).

How were you first introduced to the much-beloved “Amber Brown” book series? What was your first impression?

At the time I was creating a series about an eccentric aunt and crossed paths with [production company] Boat Rocker Media, who had the rights to the “Amber Brown” book series. We decided to join the two worlds and arranged a time for me to talk with the family of the author (the late Paula Danziger). I shared my thoughts on setting it in the present day, and creating an older version of Amber, which would mean Amber and family would be different than in the book series. I was thrilled they were open to my thoughts of writing Amber as an artist to express her subtext through her drawings. That’s what I did as a child. These drawings would include scenarios of Amber’s hopes, humor, worries, and would come to life in her imagination, revealed to the viewer in full animation. It was wonderful to hear their enthusiasm. I wanted them to know I would create characters and story lines with respect, humor and heart. They got back to me quickly, with their approval, so I dove in.

Selfishly, as a ’90s kid who grew up with “Jumanji,” I have to ask: What’s the most memorable fan response to the movie you’ve experienced?

Recently I was walking on the UCLA campus when a student came up to me and asked, “Can I give you a hug? I saw ‘Jumanji’ when I was 10 years old and my sister and I were so worried about you, Sarah Whittle.” She gave me a hug, and we took a picture to send to her sister. So sweet.

Mail bag

Recommendations from Screen Gab readers

A group of people standing in a courtroom at night
Karen Austin, left, Harry Anderson, Richard Moll, John Larroquette and Paula Kelly in “Night Court.”
(Gary Null / NBC via Getty Images)

In the very early days of NBC’s “must-see TV,” which included “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties,” “Cheers” and the 10 p.m. drama “Hill Street Blues,” an off-the-wall show was added in at the 9:30 slot: “Night Court.” Headed by the goofy Harry Anderson as Judge Harry Stone, a Mel Torme-loving judge presiding over a New York City night court, along with John Larroquette as the slimy but hysterical prosecutor Dan Fielding (his character would not fly in today’s world but he’s still extremely funny); Richard Moll as the child-like Bull Shannon and Charlie Robinson as Mac, the Vietnam War veteran-turned-court clerk keeping the craziness together. The show went along for a few seasons with a revolving door of public defenders until settling on Markie Post as good girl Christine Sullivan; after the deaths of Florence Halop and Selma Diamond, who was a writer on Sid Caesar’s show, Marsha Warfield joined the crew as Roz, Bull’s court officer partner. The show had 9 seasons of crazy stories with a fantastic stable of recurring characters played by such stars as John Astin, Brent Spiner, Yakov Smirnoff and Gilbert Gottfried. There aren’t many shows that can make you laugh as hard as “Night Court” — and you can catch it now on Amazon’s ad-supported Freevee.

Nicole Yates

What’s next

Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on

Friday, July 29

“Amber Brown” (Apple TV+): A plucky tween (Carsyn Rose) faces life’s ups and downs in this new family comedy. With Sarah Drew.

“Honor Society” (Paramount+): A high school overachiever stoops to conquer in this 2022 comedy. With Angourie Rice and “Stranger Things’” Gaten Matarazzo.

“Not Okay” (Hulu): She’s like “Emily in Paris” — if Emily had faked a trip to Paris to score social media cred — in this 2022 satire. Zoey Deutch stars.

“Paper Girls” (Prime Video): Four tweens who share a paper route in 1980s Cleveland get rerouted to 2019 in this new sci-fi series. With Ali Wong.

“Purple Hearts” (Netflix): An aspiring musician’s sham marriage to a young Marine gets complicated in this 2022 romantic drama. With Sofia Carson.

“Surface” (Apple TV+): An amnesiac woman tries to piece together her past in this new psychological thriller. “Loki’s” Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars.

“Uncoupled” (Netflix): Real estate broker Neil Patrick Harris is suddenly single and looking to mingle in this new Manhattan-set comedy.

“Belle Collective” (OWN, 9 p.m.): Black female entrepreneurs are doin’ it for themselves and each other as the reality series returns.

“NYC Point Gods” (Showtime, 9 p.m.): See how they rode their skills, style and swagger all the way to the NBA in the 1980s-90s in this new sports documentary.

“Super Sized Salon” (WE, 10:30 p.m.): A beauty salon that serves the plus-size community serves as the setting for this new reality series.

Saturday, July 30

“Summerslam” (Peacock, 5 p.m.): Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar meet in the main event as the WWE’s finest face off in Nashville.

“Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (Nickelodeon, 7 and 8 p.m.): The reboot of the spooky 1990-96 series scares up a third season.

“A Splash of Love” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A marine biologist hooks up with a hunky whale-watching tour guide in this new TV movie.

“Flowers in the Attic: The Origin” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): This star-studded four-part miniseries inspired by the novels of V.C. Andrews concludes.

Sunday, July 31

“Who Do You Think You Are?” (NBC, 7 p.m.): “Shazam!’s” Zachary Levi is up next on the celebrity genealogy series.

“Naked and Afraid XL: Frozen” (Discovery, 8 p.m.): Contestants freeze their butts off in this new entry in the outdoor survival franchise.

“Lies Between Friends” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A teenage houseguest wreaks havoc in this new thriller.

“Women Who Rock” (Epix, 9 p.m.): Taylor Swift and pop wunderkind Billie Eilish merit a mention in the series finale.

“Alex vs. America” (Food Network, 9 and 10 p.m.): Chef Alex Guarnaschelli takes on all comers as the competition returns.

“City on a Hill” (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Kevin Bacon is back on the case in Beantown for a third season of the Boston-set crime drama.

Monday, Aug. 1

“Super Greed: The Fight for Football” (Peacock): This sports documentary revisits an ill-fated attempt by a dozen top-tier soccer clubs to start their own tournament.

“Summer Under the Stars” (TCM): A new edition of the annual series kicks off with a daylong salute to the king of rock ’n’ roll, Elvis Presley.

“Inside Out” (HGTV, 8 p.m.): The home renovation series set in SoCal is back with new episodes.

“Industry” (HBO, 9 p.m.): This cutthroat drama set in London’s financial district returns for Season 2.

“Flip to a Million” (HGTV, 9 p.m.): Two house-flipping couples go head to head in this new competition.

“Running Wild With Bear Grylls” (National Geographic, 9 p.m.): “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘” Simu Liu heads for the hills in this new episode.

“Snake in the Grass” (USA, 11 p.m.): Sabotage! That’s the name of the game in this new competition.

“POV” (KOCE, 11:30 p.m.): The poignant documentary “He’s My Brother” offers a case study in providing lifelong care for the severely disabled.

Tuesday, Aug. 2

“The Hillside Strangler: Devil in Disguise” (Peacock): This new docuseries recalls the serial-killer duo who terrorized SoCal in the late 1970s.

“Celebrity Beef” (E!, 10 p.m.): Famous faces settle their feuds in the kitchen in this new competition hosted by “Community’s” Joel McHale.

Wednesday, Aug. 3

“Lightyear” (Disney+): Chris Evans supplies the voice of the titular space ranger in this animated 2022 prequel to the “Toy Story” franchise.

“Reservation Dogs” (Hulu): The acclaimed comedy about Indigenous teens scraping by in rural Oklahoma returns for Season 2.

“CMA Fest” (ABC, 8 p.m.): Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, et al. bring the twang in the return of this annual concert special.

Thursday, Aug. 4

“All or Nothing: Arsenal” (Prime Video): This new docuseries takes you behind the scenes of one of England’s most storied soccer clubs.

“Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head” (Paramount+): Those dynamic doofuses return in a second reboot of the 1993-97 animated series.

“Super Giant Robot Brothers” (Netflix): Sibling rivalry sometimes gets in the way of dispatching kaiju in this kid-friendly animated series.

“NFL Hall of Fame Game” (NBC, 5 p.m.) Are you ready for some preseason football? The Las Vegas Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars face off in Canton, Ohio.

“Battlebots” (Discovery, 8 p.m.): Clank, clank, clank go the robots, ding, ding, ding goes the bell as the competition returns.

“Alone: The Skills Challenge” (History, 10:30 p.m.): The outdoor survival competition begets a new spinoff.