Ryo Miyake staff writer
“Squid Game”, an unexpected, violent, and conceptually dark show from South Korea, is a definite must-see. Its captivating plot and thrilling action are alluring and exciting to watch and is set to be the “biggest show ever” on Netflix, according to Netflix’s co-CEO, Ted Sarandos.
Netflix’s “Squid Game,” which was written and directed by the South Korean director and writer Hwang Dong-hyuk, took the world by storm as soon as it was globally released on Sept.17. It follows the story of protagonist Gi-Hun, played by Lee Jung Jae, and 455 other people who are invited to participate in a mysterious and risky game in exchange for roughly $38 million.
When they arrive at the secret location, the participants, who come from many different walks of life, are forced to play traditional Korean games to win money, which all 456 players are in desperate need of. In order to earn the prize money, the competitors must win six games. While this might sound simple, what the contestants do not know is that losers aren’t kicked out or eliminated. They are killed. And if a player refuses to play, that player is killed as well. This is only one of the many plot twists that lures the audience into watching the whole show.
Many critics have compared this nine-episode wonder to “The Hunger Game” series or the Japanese film “Battle Royal”. The key difference: the players in “Squid Game” volunteered to participate (with the exception of Katniss, of course). As a result, it is hard to heavily sympathize with the players, unlike the characters in “Hunger Games” or “Battle Royale”. After the first game, the players take a vote that determines whether they should remain in the game or return to their normal lives. However, many of the contestants did not want to return to a life of suffering, so they decided to participate in the remaining five games. All of them are reminded by the game masters that they were not forced to participate in the games and that it was a decision that they made on their own.
What makes “Squid Game” so great is the unexpectancy it brings to the table. Just by looking at the title, one might not believe it to be a show that discusses cultural differences as well as global issues. Its dark and twisted nature was also unexpected. While the Korean childhood games presented in the show might not seem familiar to some audiences, “Squid Game” is still able to successfully address the issues of capitalism and the effects it has on people at all levels of society, which makes it similar to the film “Parasite”, a global success that won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2020.
But what “Squid Game” has that many shows don’t is the unique feelings that it induces throughout the show. Reading a recap or just watching a single episode to understand the show would just not be enough. The complexity of the characters is what makes “Squid Game” worth all the hype that it has been receiving ever since its release. It is almost impossible to talk about the South Korean show with someone that shares the exact same thoughts. Discussing the show could easily spark arguments and debates, as many people are doing on TikTok. These different interpretations make the show more unique and deep than typical Netflix thrillers. While watching the show on a computer, television, phone, or any other device, it is easy to feel like a player who has to figure out how to complete the games in order to move on.
“Squid Game” has unexpectedly captured hearts all around the world. What was expected to be a hit in only South Korea has done the unprecedented and is now a global phenomenon. With its dark concept and the talent used, it is a perfect show to watch in one sitting. It would be difficult to finish an episode and not click the ‘next episode’ button and not being able to press the button after the last episode would be a huge disappointment. It would leave audiences wanting for more. If it truly becomes the highest-grossing show on Netflix of all time, it would be a game-changer for not only South Korean entertainment, but also any foreign entertainment. It would pave the way for foreign language television by leveling the playing field. It could only be a matter of time until Netflix is filled with shows that are foreign.
Word on season two has not been announced and Netflix has not yet renewed the show.
Highlights give “Squid Game” a 5/5