Squid Game, Netflix’s biggest show in the world right now, is making waves across social media, scoring top reviews, and amassing a massive fan base. The series stellar writing and poignant portrayal of relevant social issues make it one you shouldn’t miss.
Netflix’s newest hit show, Squid Game, puts a macabre twist on six typical South Korean children’s games. The dystopian premise focuses on deeply indebted and desperate people who get lured into a cash-fueled competition with a jackpot of ₩45.6 billion (over 300 million kronor). And all they must do to gain the much-desired prize money is to win a couple of children’s games. If this sounds too good to be true, you’re right; only one of the 456 contestants gets to leave the game alive.
Squid Game is a deadly high-stakes and gore-filled South Korean thriller, and has soared to worldwide acclaim, garnering it the title of Netflix’s most successful non-English speaking show. With its current ranking as Netflix’s most popular show in over 90 countries, Squid Game is even well on its way to becoming Netflix’s most successful title ever, potentially overtaking the likes of Bridgerton, Stranger Things, and The Witcher.
This is understandably so; Squid Game is trending across nearly all major social media outlets and has, despite limited marketing of the series outside of Asia, gained massive hype. Not only is there a TikTok challenge centered on recreating the infamous Dalgona candy of the second game, but there is an entire Twitter meme culture based on the unsettling robot doll from the first episode.
The show’s popularity can also be seen in the cast’s ever-rising follower counts. In particular, that of Jung Ho-Yeon, the actress who plays North Korean defector Kang Sae-Byeok in the show, whose number of Instagram followers has been increasing by over a million a day since Squid Game’s release. The rest of the cast, who, as opposed to Jung Ho, were already well-known and established actors in the South Korean entertainment industry, are also getting their first taste of being part of a global sensation. The cast even recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, in which actor Park Hae-soo, who plays Sang-woo in the series, said that sitting there in the interview really solidified the series’ success for him, saying, ”It’s real. I feel it in my bones.”
However, while the press surrounding the show has been incredibly positive, the Squid Game’s meteoric rise to success has also had some unprecedented consequences. Netflix is now facing a lawsuit from South Korean internet provider Reuters, who is suing the streaming giant for an increase in network usage due to the hit show. Furthermore, the owner of the phone number given to Lee Jung-Jae’s character, Seong Gi-Hun, in the first episode, has been receiving thousands of calls daily since the release of the show. As per a recent statement, Netflix has promised to remedy the situation by editing the scenes containing the number.
While clearly, the show is undeniably popular, does it live up to the hype?
In short, yes.
Despite being incredibly gory and brutal with countless violent depictions of death, the plot remains captivating throughout and has more to it than the shock value a conventional thriller relies on. The acting is phenomenal across the board, thereby creating dynamic and nuanced characters with their own selfish motivations. While the characters may not always be likable, they are incredibly realistic and give an exciting look into the human psyche. Overall, the show is highly thought-provoking, providing a striking commentary on the rotten side of human nature and the pitfalls of capitalist greed. Yet simultaneously, Squid Game juxtaposes this bleak outlook on humanity with pure moments of friendship, compassion, and selflessness, pulling at your heartstrings.
In terms of cinematography, the set and costume design are high calibre, using colour theory to create heavier impact scenes. The score alike adds to the show, giving it an eerie atmosphere throughout. The direction is compelling, and the storyline puts a unique twist on a common South Korean media trope addressing the perils of economic inequality. As the director, writer, and producer Hwang Dong-Hyuk himself said in a recent interview with CNN, ”This is a story about losers.”
Critics and fans alike are giving Squid Game worldwide notoriety in their reviews and online praises. In fact, the only substantial criticism that appears to be making its way around is that the show’s subtitles apparently don’t do the phenomenal writing justice. With the whole world in a craze, suffice it to say the show is definitely worth a watch. The only remaining question is whether or not there will be a second season of the hit series. While initially tentative, with fears of not being able to create something that lives up to the first season’s buzz, director Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed in a recent interview with Variety that ’there’s nothing confirmed at the moment, but so many people are enthusiastic that I’m really contemplating it.’ Suggesting that the announcement of Squid Game Season Two may just be a matter of time.