Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
Squid Game Cover

Netflix is constantly updating its wide catalogue of titles, and one thing it excels at is creating original content. It has some hugely successful shows such as Stranger Things and The Witcher, but it’s added a new one recently that is very worthy of your attention… Squid Game. Now, be warned, this show is not for the faint of heart. If you squirm at the sight of blood, and hate confronting your own morality, this may not be for you. But if you have the stomach for it, Squid Game is an experience that will stay with you long after you finish watching. Don’t worry, I won’t delve into the realm of spoilers, but I just want to give you a taste of what you can expect. So, here’s why Squid Game belongs on your Netflix list.

Premise

Now, death games have been done before in media. Think Battle Royale or The Hunger Games. However, Squid Game stands out in 3 major ways. Firstly, the scale of it. There are nearly 500 contestants involved in the games, a huge step up from the ~30 in the other two I mentioned. Secondly, the games are much more organised. It’s not a chaotic fight to the death, instead there are a series of 6 games that contestants play. Each round, a number of them will get wiped out, and the rest go on to play the next game. And finally, most interesting of all, every contestant has volunteered to be there. They’re all competing for the chance to win a huge sum of money, because in the real world their lives are falling apart. The money could change everything for them.

We’re first introduced to the protagonist, Gi-Hun, through his regular life. It’s a shambles. He’s in huge debt, has a gambling problem, and is an estranged father to his daughter. He desperately wants to be a good father, but can’t compete with her rich step-dad. His mum is working full time to support him, and he hates being a burden on her. So when the opportunity arises to earn a life-changing amount of money, he can’t say no. Of course, at first, none of them realise exactly what they’ve signed up for…

Squid Game belongs on your Netflix list, the facility.
They all find themselves in this odd facility, and every contestant is assigned a number.

Intensity

The way this show builds suspense is second to none. Each episode usually has only one or two moments of high action, but the lead up to those is truly captivating. Sometimes, the absence of action can be just as thrilling as the presence of it. It makes you appreciate it more. You feel the anticipation build, and you could cut the tension with a knife. The producers knew this, and used the technique wonderfully.

One of my favourite scenes (don’t worry, it’s in the trailer so it’s not a spoiler) is at the end of the first episode. The players are instructed to play red light, green light (Granny’s Footsteps, if you’re in the UK). They haven’t yet realised what being ‘eliminated’ entails, and so at first they treat it as just a game. But when that first person dies, and it dawns on them what they’ve truly signed up for, the resulting scene is cinematic perfection. The panic builds, and they run around screaming. But of course, that’s against the rules, and it leads to a massacre. After a slow-burn pilot episode, it’s the perfect ending, and really sets the pace for the rest of the series.

Red light, green light.
This doll was so creepy, it was the contrast of childish innocence and horrific death.

There’re also a lot of scenes dedicated to emotional development. It’s all good and well watching people get eliminated, but it doesn’t mean much if there’s no emotional connection. So as the episodes go on, we learn more about the characters and their motivations. We see scenes of their lives outside the games, and it makes the impact much more meaningful. There’s such a wide range of personalities, and the psychology behind the show is fascinating.

Morality

One thing that the show does better than anything is put a focus on morality. Because the thing is, they’ve all volunteered to be there. They’re watching their peers die, and they could put a stop to it at any time. If a majority votes to leave, then the games will end; the management is clear on this. And yet they all stay, willingly, and allow others to get slaughtered. Everything they do, all the actions they take, they’re doing it for money. They’ve put their own lives on the line, and by extension, everyone else’s.

Squid Game belongs on your Netflix list, masked staff.
The masked staff ran the games, and seemed devoid of emotion.

You start asking yourself what you’d do if you were in their shoes. Would you have agreed to participate in the first place? Would you put someone else at risk for your own self-preservation? Is it even possible to know what you would do in that situation without first being in it? I loved thinking about what my tactics would be in each game, and whether I would survive.

You want to believe that you’d be the protagonist, Gi-Hun, trying to do the right thing. But the fact of the matter is, most of us would be driven by our survival instinct. There’s one particular character who intrigued me most of all, because he was so morally grey. He was not a bad person, he did not have evil intent. He took no pleasure in hurting others, and avoided it where possible. But he wanted to win, and he would do so at any cost. The hardest part? I realised that if it came down to it, that is probably who I would be if I were in Squid Game.

Gi-Hun confronting Sang-Woo
When push came to shove, nobody was who they first appeared to be.

Cultural Diversity

Another thing that’s great about Squid Game is that it exposes the audience to Korean culture. I’m willing to bet that the majority of my readers watch almost exclusively Western shows. And although some are better than others in terms of diversity, often POC are under-represented, particularly Asians. As such, I think it’s great to watch a show where the cast are all Korean. I watched the dubbed version, which is the default, however you can also watch it in the original Korean with subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

It was really interesting to see snippets of life in South Korea, and realise the similarities and differences. Obviously the scenes inside the games weren’t particularly representative of Korean culture, but there were also scenes of daily life. Their conversations were interesting too, in terms of how the characters interacted with each other. There are slight differences in social etiquette which were really great to see and learn about. Also, all the games they played were based on childhood games. Some of them were specific to Korea, and it was really cool to see what Korean children play.

Squid Game belongs on your Netflix list, Korean cultural diversity.
It was great learning about the characters’ lives in Korea.

I think it’s so important to watch shows from other cultures, as part of the reason racism is so ingrained in our society is due to lack of exposure to other groups of people. Entertainment is such a fundamental part of what shapes our experience, so by enjoying content from other cultures, we can expand our understanding of the world, and the people in it.

Overall

If you’re not convinced yet then I don’t know what else you need to hear. Trust me, this show is amazing! It’s powerful, emotional, intense, well-written, and all around brilliant. The music used is eerie and thrilling, and really enhances the atmosphere. It’s also soaring in popularity, so you don’t want to miss out on the hype. I’m willing to bet you’ll be hooked after the first episode, and as it’s only 9 episodes in total, it’s not too much of a commitment. I couldn’t help but binge the episodes, I just had to know what happened next.

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By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)