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Like the hit HBO series The Sympathizer? Then watch these 3 great shows right now

Hoa Xuande holds a burning letter in The Sympathizer.
Hopper Stone / HBO

While there’s always plenty of great TV on Max, it’s not often that a master director lends his talents to a limited series. Park Chan-wook, the director behind great movies like Oldboy and The Handmaiden, is doing just that with The Sympathizer, a new limited series based on the novel of the same name.

This isn’t the first time that Park has directed TV (more on that below), but The Sympathizer seems poised to be one of the big shows of the spring. The series follows a spy who moves to a refugee camp in the U.S. near the end of the Vietnam War, and continues collecting intelligence for the Viet Cong. If you loved the show and are looking for something similar, here are three shows you should consider.

Slow Horses (2022-)

Slow Horses — Official Trailer | Apple TV+

Although it features an entirely different setting, Slow Horses has the same mixture of serious and ironic tones as The Sympathizer. The series focuses on Slough House, a division of MI-5 where the most incompetent agents are sent to wither away.

However, the agents at Slough House just keep finding ways to get involved in actual spy craft, even though they’re just as likely to muck things up as they are to actually solve any problems. Gary Oldman’s central performance is crucial to the show’s success, and the show only continues to improve on itself season after season. It’s both hilarious and endlessly compelling.

Slow Horses is streaming on Apple TV+.

The Americans (2013-2018)

The Americans | Trailer | ITV

A much more straightforwardly serious show with a lot of similar story elements to The SympathizerThe Americans follows two undercover Soviet spies who are posing as a married couple. They are so thoroughly undercover that their covers have become their sole identities, and much of the show focuses on the ways they often can’t separate the Americans they play all day from who they actually are.

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are both incredible in their central roles, and while the show isn’t absurd in the same way The Sympathizer sometimes is, it does have its occasional moments of levity.

The Americans is streaming on Hulu.

The Little Drummer Girl (2018)

THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL Official Trailer (2018) Michael Shannon, Park Chan-wook Series HD

Park Chan-wook is obviously best known for the films he’s directed, but he has dabbled in TV once before with 2018’s The Little Drummer Girl. It stars Florence Pugh (Dune: Part Two) as an actress involved in a whirlwind romance with a man she met on a beach in Greece. Slowly, she finds herself ensconced in a world of assassinations and espionage, and finds that her skills as an actress translate pretty well.

When Park does tell stories for the small screen, it seems that he enjoys adapting great spy literature. While The Sympathizer and The Little Drummer Girl don’t have identical premises, it’s not hard to see the many commonalities between the two series as they both involve spies conflicted over their actions, and both works are some of the best television you’ll ever see.

The Little Drummer Girl can be rented or purchased at Amazon Prime Video.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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