Apple TV+‘s Pachinko is one series that continues to pick up steam as time goes on and more folks discover the show’s critically-acclaimed debut season.
Not only has it garnered rave reviews from critics, but it also has a very, very active and vocal fanbase.
‘This show was such a risk in terms of who [was] going to watch this show,” said showrunner Soo Hugh in a recent interview with Shadow and Act when talking about the series’ success. “It’s in three languages, it’s a period [piece] — but to see it received so just enthusiastically and more to see it hit a nerve and for it to resonate is really what you ask for [and] what you want.
For Hugh, she says it was impossible to not use her own experiences and the experiences of her family to bring to life the source material of the book.
“The main example of that [using her experience] is the way language is used and the reason why we have the different color-coded subtitles, jumping from Korean to Japanese because that’s so much my experience,” she said. “Growing up, I didn’t speak one language with my family. I spoke a pidgin language of Korean and English and that’s something I thought I’d never quite seen before in a film or TV show. And I believe [the character of] Solomon would absolutely speak like that. So, those things very much informed my decision.’
One difference between the series and the book is that the series is not told in chronological order, but instead jumps throughout. time.
“I knew that I personally did not want to tell it chronologically, and because of that, I thought I wasn’t the right person to do this story,” she explained. “There are so many terrific writers out there, but it wasn’t until I realized [that] this is a story I want to tell that [there could be] cross-generational dialogue. That was when I was like, ‘Ah, I can do this story.’ So it really wasn’t until I figured that out that I knew it was going to be this adaptation. Before that, I just didn’t think I knew how to do it.”
Because of things like switching languages, Hugh noted how the show’s script actually comes together in the editing room–not the writers’ room.
She told us, “This is a show that was made twice. It was made first in the writer’s room on the script. But then the script was really made in the editing room. And I feel that’s not talked about enough about this show. The script is a wonderful template. It’s a wonderful guide. But at some point, [in] the editing room with editors, we just throw the scripts away. And really when you talk about why it’s led to cut to different characters and different storylines, it’s just trial and error. So in the post process, when you put editing together with music and sound design, that’s really how you made this show. The show did not exist before editing.”
Pachinko is living proof of the strides being made for Asian creatives and overall, creatives of color in Hollywood and the types of stories that can be told.
“I don’t want at all take credit for things. This groundwork has been laid well for Pachinko,” she added. “It’s been laid for decades. Minari, Parasite— even movies like Moonlight, Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians– that road was laid way before me. But what I hope that this show is part of is, for so long, we thought our stories didn’t matter. And more than that, we thought our stories were small. I didn’t want to be an independent film. I have no desire to do independent film. I have no desire to make small character studies. I want to do epics. I want to do shows that have the budgets that Game of Thrones has. I want to do a [version of] The Crown, ad I want it to be with Asian faces. That’s what we need. We need people to know that our stories not only deserve huge scope and huge ambition, but we also deserve the big budget as well.”
The show has already been renewed for season 2 and Hugh’s team are already ready.
“This show is pitched for four seasons,” she said. “All four seasons were broken out pretty much, soo we’re deep in the writer’s room for the second season, which follows most of the second-generation storyline. We hope to film early next year.
Watch Pachinko season 1 in its entirety on Apple TV+.