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Your Weekly Watch List

Netflix's Squid Game: The Challenge Tests How Far People Will Go For $4.56 Million

Plus: Jon Hamm hunts Juno Temple in Fargo Season 5, Fear the Walking Dead signs off, and more.
  • Squid Game: The Challenge (Photo: Netflix)
    Squid Game: The Challenge (Photo: Netflix)

    Looking for your next binge-watch, or just need to fill an hour? Welcome to Your Weekly Watch List, our curated collection of the best shows on television. Here's what to watch from Sunday, November 19 through Saturday, November 25.

    It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a blockbuster streaming release, and this week is no exception: On Wednesday, Netflix brings Squid Game into the real world with a multimillion-dollar competition that sees hundreds of contestants compete for the record-breaking sum of $4.56 million. Plus, Jon Hamm and Juno Temple help Fargo hit reset in Season 5, Fear the Walking Dead reaches its dramatic conclusion, and more.

    Fear the Walking Dead Series Finale

    Sunday, 9:00 PM ET on AMC+

    After eight seasons, AMC's Fear the Walking Dead — the first spin-off in The Walking Dead TV universe — comes to an end with a supersized finale. The two-episode event includes one last showdown between longtime rivals Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman), who continues to eye a takeover of PADRE, a secretive organization that seeks to rebuild civilization after the zombie apocalypse. When Troy raises an army of the dead to attack the settlement, it's up to Madison and her allies to stop him, but not everyone will emerge from this battle of good versus evil unscathed.

    Though the Fear the Walking Dead finale marks the conclusion of this particular era in TWD history, the franchise will continue to play a key role in AMC's identity moving forward. Earlier this year, the network ordered second seasons of Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Dead City and Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon, and a spin-off centered on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) is expected to premiere in 2024. Whether these series will revitalize the franchise remains to be seen, but at the very least, fans can expect TWD to keep lumbering on, with or without Fear.

    Fargo Season 5 Premiere

    Tuesday, 10:00 PM ET on FX

    While the dueling Kansas City mobs of Fargo Season 4 represented a departure for Noah Hawley's FX anthology, Season 5 feels like a return to what's worked in the past. Dot Lyon (Juno Temple) seems like a typical housewife in 2019 Minnesota: She attends school board meetings, makes pancakes for her daughter, and bites her tongue when her obscenely wealthy mother-in-law (Jennifer Jason Leigh) makes nasty comments about her marriage to mild-mannered car salesman Wayne (David Rysdahl).

    Dot isn't happy, exactly, but she's comfortable enough — until her past, and North Dakota Sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm), come calling. As Dot is dragged back into the world of violence and mayhem, she must go to extreme lengths to protect her family, all while evading Tillman and the well-meaning officers (Richa Moorjani and Lamorne Morris) investigating her strange behavior.

    Although Temple's Minnesota accent leaves something to be desired, watching her wriggle out of dangerous situations with her cunning (and brute force, when needed) is delightful, especially after the final season of Ted Lasso left her with so little to do. Across the state line, Hamm leans into the villainous role of a sheriff who believes he's above the law, making for an interesting complement to his recent turn on The Morning Show. In true Fargo fashion, the cat-and-mouse game that develops between Dot and Tillman is heavy on the bloodshed, but it leads to an exciting season that complicates our understanding of the "Minnesota nice" characters that make up this colorful world.

    Squid Game: The Challenge

    Wednesday, Netflix
    *Our must-watch pick of the week

    Netflix's real-world take on Squid Game has been mired in controversy since it was first announced, with critics blasting the reality series for missing the point of the anti-capitalist Korean hit, and contestants claiming they faced "inhumane" conditions during filming. (Netflix and its production partners have said allegations "that the competition is rigged or claims of serious harm to players are simply untrue.")

    The dark cloud hanging over Squid Game: The Challenge is difficult to ignore, but with its impressive production value and $4.56 million prize — the largest cash prize in genre history — the streamer is doing its level-best to make us forget about it. The slickly produced series effectively transports fans back to the world of the K-drama, trapping 456 contestants in a clinical, windowless setting and encouraging them to duke it out for the life-changing sum. To advance, they must successfully complete the same games as the characters in the show, from "Red Light, Green Light" to the cookie-cutting challenge, and navigate additional tests that reveal their true character.

    Given the obvious fact that the contestants' lives aren't actually at risk, Squid Game: The Challenge becomes more conventional than the fictional competition that inspired it. Heroes and villains quickly emerge and the players develop tenuous alliances that help them survive from one day to the next, transforming the show into a social strategy game. That said, the contestants have clearly internalized Squid Game's "every person for themself" ethos, so it's only a matter of time before those alliances are put to the test as the remaining players inch closer to the prize. Viewers will have to wait a few weeks to see how it all shakes out, as Netflix is releasing the season in three batches leading up to the December 6 finale.

    97th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and More Festive Fare

    Begins Thursday, 8:30 AM ET on NBC and Peacock

    If you're among the minority who wishes the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Thursday, 8:30 AM ET on NBC and Peacock) ran even longer, you're in luck: This year's event begins 30 minutes earlier than usual, leaving time for more musical numbers and commentary from Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, and Al Roker.

    The 97th annual event features performances from Cher, Jon Batiste, Emily in Paris star Ashley Park with the Muppets, and more big names, plus appearances from the Big Apple Circus, renowned marching bands and dance teams, and various cartoon characters (in balloon form). Over on CBS and Paramount+, the hosts of Entertainment Tonight will offer their own commentary beginning at 9:00 AM ET.

    The Thanksgiving TV marathon doesn't have to end when the parade reaches Macy's flagship location in Herald Square. Immediately afterward, the country's most well-bred dogs will take the ring at the National Dog Show Presented by Purina (Thursday, 12:00 PM ET on NBC and Peacock), a marquee event held by The Kennel Club of Philadelphia. Those looking for a different kind of sporting action can also sit back and enjoy a host of NFL games, including the Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions (Thursday, 12:30 PM ET on Fox) and the Washington Commanders vs. Dallas Cowboys (Thursday, 4:30 PM ET on CBS). And for the first time ever, the NFL will host a Black Friday game (Friday, 3:00 PM ET on Prime Video) featuring the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.

    A Nearly Normal Family

    Friday, Netflix (Full Season)

    Based on Mattias Edvardsson's bestselling novel, A Nearly Normal Family has all the makings of a Netflix hit. The Swedish crime drama centers on a regular, upper-middle class family — father Adam (Björn Bengtsson), a priest; his wife Ulrika (Lo Kauppi), a lawyer; and their 19-year-old daughter Stella (Alexandra Karlsson Tyrefors) — whose lives are upended when Stella is accused of murdering her lover Chris Olson (Christian Fandango Sundgren). As Adam and Ulrika attempt to piece together what happened, they discover just how little they know about their daughter, and each other, and how far they're willing to go to protect their own.

    In terms of its plot, a A Nearly Normal Family isn't that different from the deluge of recent murder mysteries that unearth family secrets, but with just six episodes to tell this story, the drama moves at a brisk pace, ensuring that viewers won't be left in the dark for long.

    If You Have...

    An Hour

    Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas: Wednesday, Apple TV+
    Lessons in Chemistry Season 1 Finale: Friday, Apple TV+
    Invincible Season 2, Part 1 Finale: Friday, Prime Video
    Doctor Who: The Star Beast: Saturday, Disney+

    An Evening

    Bye Bye Barry: Tuesday, Prime Video
    Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool: Tuesday, Netflix
    Good Burger 2: Wednesday, Paramount+

    A Full Day

    Obituary: Tuesday, Hulu
    High on the Hog Season 2: Wednesday, Netflix

    Up Next

    Faraway Downs (Limited Series): Sunday, November 26 on Hulu
    The Artful Dodger: Wednesday, November 29 on Hulu
    Slow Horses Season 3: Wednesday, November 29 on Apple TV+
    Obliterated: Thursday, November 30 on Netflix
    Virgin River Season 5 Holiday Episodes: Thursday, November 30 on Netflix

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: Squid Game: The Challenge, Fargo, Fear the Walking Dead, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, A Nearly Normal Family, Thanksgiving