107 Best TV Shows Similar to Squid Game
Disney+'s animated exploration of what could've been continues to intrigue in Season 2, but not all episodes are created equal.
With What If…? Season 2, the time seems right to take a look at both seasons and rank them for your entertainment. Is it wrong to rank art? Possibly, but we’re of the mind that something that feels this good can’t possibly be bad.
On that note, let’s not waste a moment more and start counting down from worst to best. The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) hates to be kept waiting! Continue Reading →
GREGORY HORROR SHOW
A quick overview of the high highs and middling disappointments in horror this year.
With the social media app formerly known as Twitter now a shell of its former self, horror fans have been forced to return to Facebook to continue such interminable debates as “What does or doesn’t qualify something as ‘horror’?” “What the hell is ‘elevated horror,’ anyway?” “Are remakes inherently bad?” “Have horror movies gotten too ‘woke’?” “Were we wrong for letting women make horror?”
In a year when both David Gordon Green and M. Night Shyamalan released new movies, the horror discourse was especially spicy, and that’s before we get to the really interesting stories, like the surprise viral success of Skinamarink, which, with the way time seems to be passing nowadays, feels like it was released five years ago. Both indie and mainstream horror made daring choices, not looking to appeal to as broad a range of audiences as possible, and treating the genre as a serious art form, as opposed to just a machine that prints money. But the biggest surprise came in October, with the release of Saw X, the tenth film in a seemingly unkillable franchise, which ended up being one of the best, most coherent entries in the entire series. Continue Reading →
One of the common complaints about Marvel’s attempts at multiverse storytelling is that it renders everything meaningless. If there is another Ikaris of the Eternals out there—or a possibly infinite number of them—why should one care if the one in front of us dies? Generally, this writer finds the argument unconvincing. If I told you there were infinite versions of your friend out there in the multiverse you might someday meet, you’d still care quite a bit to see your version die in front of you. Continue Reading →
Night owls and insomniacs will tell you it's special being awake while most of your family, friends, and community slumber. How sometimes weightless and creative you can feel when everyone else strives for that healthy rest. They’ll also often tell you how lonely and frustrating it can be. Wandering your home or the world outside all alone because their bodies’ circadian rhythm actually makes sense. Continue Reading →
There’s a moment in Sex Education Season 4’s first episode where a dark thought crosses one mind. “Wait…was this always JUST a sitcom?” Continue Reading →
The Wheel of Time
Big-budget fantasy lovers have reason to celebrate this week with Amazon Studio’s The Wheel of Time Season 2's debut. With some careful tweaking by Showrunner Rafe Judkins, Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy of feminine magic and quests of destiny came to life in an impressive if uneven first season. Now, the stakes are higher, the dangers subtler, and the ever-expanding cast of characters more compelling. Continue Reading →
Only Murders in the Building
The surprise, sustained hit Only Murders in the Building brands itself as a comedy-mystery on Hulu. But, as season three hits the streaming service, with another murder for the Arconian trio of Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short), and Mabel (Selena Gomez) to solve, something becomes apparent. The series isn’t going for big laughs. Instead, it provides warmth, small chuckles, and genial goodness between the triumvirate. The show remains about found family, intergenerational friendships, and murder mysteries. It’s perhaps best described as a cozy mystery, a murder show with a heart of gold, an oxymoron of concepts. Continue Reading →
The 2019 adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel Good Omens was a charming show that succeeded in translating the book’s strengths and weaknesses to the small screen. It was clever like the book, with an ingenious plot (what if there had been a mix-up at the hospital and the Antichrist went home with the wrong family) that parodied The Omen while conjuring an apocalyptic tale all its about an angel and demon whose millennials-long rivalry grew from mutual antagonism, to grudging respect, and finally admiration and even a kind of love. But it also carried over the book’s weaker elements, its wonky pacing, plurality of uninteresting characters, and the fact that the first two thirds of the story is essentially table setting for the final third. Continue Reading →
Survival of the Thickest
In 1995, way back last century, I went shopping for a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. Accompanied by my mother, it soon became apparent to us both that I, both a big and tall girl, wouldn’t be able to buy a dress in the Juniors section. My options eventually whittled down to one adult black velvet dress that, while the saleswoman assured us was totally chic for weddings, nevertheless showcased to the world that I could not fit into a fun or stylish dress for someone my age and that’s rough. It’s very rough. Continue Reading →
What We Do in the Shadows
Season 5 of What We Do in the Shadows premieres tomorrow, and you might have some difficulty parsing that it’s already there. Many sitcoms tend to run out of steam by season 5 (you’ll note that exactly when Fonzie jumped the shark), resorting to dropping plot arcs without explanation, swapping out established characters for newer, less interesting characters, setting up tiresome romances, and relying on gimmick episodes, like flashbacks, clip shows, and musicals. Despite its supernatural premise, What We Do in the Shadows still follows much of the standard sitcom structure, so it’s a minor miracle that it’s still the freshest, funniest half-hour show on television right now, without anyone having to put on a fat suit or get stuck in an elevator. Continue Reading →
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
Generally speaking, we avoid personalizing our reviews at The Spool. This isn’t the early 2000s. No one needs to know about my journey to my couch to watch Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season 4. That said, please allow me a brief personal indulgence that I promise will prove illustrious. In an effort to get ahead of deadlines, I watched the season’s six episodes in a day with a plan to write the review the next day. However, by the time I sat down to write that review about 26 hours later, I realized I had to watch the whole thing again. In a day’s time, I had forgotten too much to write a review in good faith. Continue Reading →
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson
It’s difficult to explain to an average human the madness that is I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. You could say it’s a sketch comedy show that combines surrealist imagery, social satire, and existential dread into tiny bursts of joyful chaos. Or you could point to the title. Every sketch--usually three to five an episode--features a character that’s so annoying or goes against social norms in such extremely inappropriate ways you want to scream at them to leave the room immediately. Continue Reading →
Mulligan may be an animated comedy about a ragtag group of survivors of an alien attack on Earth. However, Hardcore 30 Rock fans will quickly discover Netflix’s new animated series feels pretty familiar to the early-aughts sitcom. First, there’s the fast-paced comedic timing, a signature of producers Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, and Sam Means. Next, both series feature the infectious, bouncy music of Jeff Richmond. Finally, both got off to a bit of a rough start. Still, just like hang gliding over an apocalyptic alien attack, Mulligan’s an amusing, wild journey that rewards viewers who hang on for the ride. Continue Reading →
Walt Disney Animation Studios: Short Circuit Experimental Films
This year's first program of Chicago Critics Film Festival shorts focus on the dark side of family, community & living with mental illness.
The films in the first program of shorts at this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival all concern those mythic American values of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And they do this in both content and form. Though these films never exceed twenty minutes, they are unbounded examples of the human imagination.
We open on the “happy family” of Nicole Daddona and Adam Wilder’s deliciously unsettling The Mundanes. This surreal nostalgic PSA about the ideal American family is a delightful work of surreal suspense. What begins as a richly designed comment on the facelessness of the perfect family in the white nostalgic imagination soon amps up into an amusing work of comedy horror. Unspeakable delights feed the happiness of the Happy Family. You can bet ambrosia salad won’t be the most unappetizing thing on this 50s-inspired tablescape. The Mundanes serves up a sensational visual style and keen directorial perspective on a silver platter with a healthy helping of disturbing social commentary on the side. Continue Reading →
Ghosts of Beirut
Throughout the near-240 minutes of Showtime’s Ghosts of Beirut, the four-part espionage thriller introduces dozens of characters scattered across the Middle East. CIA agents, Mossad operatives, and various members of the Islamic Jihad Organization all get time within these four hours of television. Creators Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz attempt to give all perspectives in this story, including that of terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, the central figure of this story, and so, the series consistently remains too limited. Continue Reading →
The Other Two
The first season of The Other Two followed down-on-their-luck Dubek siblings Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke) as their teen popstar brother rose to international fame status as popstar Chase Dreams (Case Walker). Season 2 followed their mom, Pat (Molly Shannon), as the suburban mom became a beloved talk-show host. After a two-year wait, Season 3 finds Cary and Brooke gaining their own fame and success. However, the industry’s rigors take their toll. It’s a brilliantly existential comedic satire on the levels of fame as the Dubek family and friends deal with the success and failures of their star-studded lifestyle. Continue Reading →
Fatal Attraction is an interesting study of how a controversial movie’s takeaway message can completely change, largely because audiences have changed. It’s a stylish, well-crafted film that spawned dozens of lesser imitations, and comes off as totally different when viewed from a 21st-century perspective. The carefully delineated roles of “hero” and “villain” are something murkier: we now understand that protagonist Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) isn’t entirely clear with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) that their torrid fling is just that, a no-strings-attached encounter that means nothing to him. We see that Alex is done dirty with a script that depicts her as a one-note monster who must be defeated in the name of preserving the nuclear family. When even the YouTube commentariat largely agrees that Dan leads Alex on, you know the tide of public opinion has turned. Continue Reading →
You ever have a really great orgasm? Like so strong it sends you into an entirely different dimension? Now imagine that’s not a metaphor. Welcome to the premise of creator-writer-director-star Zoe Lister-Jones’ Slip. Continue Reading →
Tiny Beautiful Things
If you belonged to a certain group of very online Millennials around 2011, then the chances that a Dear Sugar letter changed your life or permanently lodged itself in your brain are high. I know it’s certainly true for me. That means I’m carrying a certain degree of baggage to Hulu’s newest series, Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the book of the same name--a collection of Dear Sugar’s best advice columns)--and Sugar herself, Cheryl Strayed, who stepped forward as the columnist in 2012. Continue Reading →