The Irresistible Draw of Squid Game

Thomas Ou ‘24
EE Entertainment Editor

Recently, a largely unheard of show originating from South Korea has broken Netflix’s record of member views in most countries including the US and is set to become the biggest original show of all time. This record was previously set by widely watched shows with some of the most memorable characters such as Bridgeton, The Witcher, Stranger Things, and Tiger King. On the surface, it is just another gory and grisly almost-horror foreign show prevalent among a new era of television shows; in fact, even the premise of a survival battle royale/Hunger Games is far too common in today’s media. What sets it apart from other originals is the way it chooses to present its content; it has, in essence, cracked the formula in creating an addictive show that, honestly, burrows and sticks in the viewer’s mind long after they finish the last episode. 

 “People are attracted by the irony that hopeless grownups risk their lives to win a kids’ game,” Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk said in an interview. “The games are simple and easy, so viewers can give more focus on each character rather than complex game rules”.

The show brings back the nostalgia of playing children games with just a sprinkle of murder. What sets it apart from other shows, is how it combines the concepts to form a depressingly dark satire on human society while also tainting the innocent childhood memories a person once had. Desperate, impoverished people are offered the opportunity to have a second chance at living their life at the price of participating in a killing game. The game itself is much simpler than expected: play a variety of childhood games, with the losers dying a gruesome death. Of the 456 original participants in the game, audiences are able to watch as those numbers slowly dwindle. 

Sophomore Patrick McGovern commented on how the show “couples actions and great storytelling with a deeper meaning of how far someone will go to get money.” In a sense, Squid Game is a show all viewers can relate to a personal degree; both at the desperation and despair of its participants as well as the willingness to climb when met with rock bottom. 

The protagonist of the show, Gi-hun, is far outside the stereotypical main character; he is a degenerate, divorced gambler who would often steal money from his elderly mother in order to supply his bad habits. He serves a juxtaposition in the show; being both a warning to those who might end up in his position and a sign to never give up hope no matter the circumstances. 

Perhaps, the most horrifying part of the show is the commentary it has on modern society; how people would look down on those who are weaker and build their power through abusing them. In a game of survival, it is not only most logical for the participants to work together to pull through for the prize money, but it is simply the right thing to do. Yet people would backstab and fight, all for a bunch of green paper that would determine their lives. As the screen cuts to the bodies of the eliminated, the viewers are left to wonder if all that death is worth it; if perhaps, the hell is not found in the afterlife, but rather the lives that we chained ourselves to.

2 Responses to The Irresistible Draw of Squid Game

  1. Zach C says:

    Great article Thomas!

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