Please Allow ‘The Sympathizer’ to Take Over Your Sunday Nights

a man with his hand on his chin
‘The Sympathizer’ Is Taking Over Sunday NightCourtesy of HBO.

The Sympathizer is here. The series—which marks Robert Downey Jr.’s return to the small screen—is finally on HBO, where audiences can follow the exploits of a North Vietnamese spy during the Vietnam War.

The Sympathizer is a dark comedy adapted from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s debut novel of the same name. In 2016, it received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and now literature lovers and espionage fans can watch the story play out onscreen. Just prepare to spot four Downeys, as well as excellent performances from his costars Hoa Xuande, Fred Nguyen Khan, Ky Duyen, Toan Le, and Sandra Oh.

After escaping the Fall of Saigon in The Sympathizer's debut episode, North Vietnamese spy "The Captain" lands in Los Angeles. He's tasked with keeping tabs on the General in America, in fear that he will rally support in the U.S. to take back his home country. Instead, the Captain finds himself wrapped up in conflicting interests, motivations, and even a film set during the Vietnam War. South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook helmed the first three episodes.

Ahead of the series premiere, Xuande spoke with Esquire about working with Downey. When they met, Downey said, “Brother, we’re going to screw this thing up together. Don’t worry about it.” Xuande was grateful for his kind words. “He could see how nervous I was, and I appreciated that,” he said. Well, we highly doubt that either actor screwed up The Sympathizer, judging by its first four episodes.

Ready to check out the action so far? The series debuted on HBO on April 14, 2024, releasing the first installment of a seven-episode limited series. The Sympathizer will roll out weekly on Sundays at 9 p.m. until the finale on May 26, 2024. Here’s the full release schedule:

Episode 1: “Death Wish” — April 14, 2024

Episode 2: “Good Little Asian” — April 21, 2024

Episode 3: "Love It Or Leave It" — April 28, 2024

Episode 4: "Give Us Some Good Lines" — May 5, 2024

Episode 5: "All for One" — May 12, 2024

Episode 6: "The Oriental Mode of Destruction" — May 19, 2024

Episode 7: "Endings Are Hard, Aren't They?" — May 26, 2024

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