Ruby Hawbecker | Writer
October 8, 2021
Netflix’s recent number one show, Squid Game, was released September 17, 2021. This Korean psychological drama portrays many thought-provoking betrayals and mind-bending plot twists, making it popular among adults and teens alike.
The show follows middle-aged father Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) as he is invited into a secret game where he can earn money to pay off his outstanding debt. This game is introduced to him by a mysterious man in a black suit in the subway station, presenting him with an offer that seems impossible to refuse.
Entering the game to earn money in order to keep custody of his daughter and pay off his debt, Gi-hun meets hundreds of people in the same situation. The players embark into a series of nostalgic children’s games to earn 45 billion Korean won, which equates to roughly 38 million US dollars. The downside? If you lose, you die.
The makers of the game give the players a chance to terminate the game at any time, creating a psychological battle. The players know that they can be killed, yet choose to participate because they believe their lives outside of the game are far worse.
Through the series of games and as people are eliminated, the director—Hwang Dong-hyuk—creates emotional intensity and touches on various real-world themes.
“I think Squid Game really illustrates how the world revolves around money and how people idolize it,” junior Summer Gagliardotto said.
This theme is what seems to make this show so meaningful. In a world where debt is preeminent, the system preys on human weakness, greed, and a valuation of money over everything. Characters in the show are willing to give their lives to pay what they owe and move up in social class.
The game is “something people can easily relate to,” Gagliardotto added. “I feel like if there was such a thing in real life, people wouldn’t hesitate to sign up”— a frightening but truthful thought. Wealth has a hold over humanity that nothing else does, especially more recently as consumer culture has grown globally. This show demonstrates that money can’t buy happiness, and that greed can destroy relationships and even lives.
Though the writers of the show incorporated human selfishness as a central theme, they oddly managed to evoke a feeling of pity for the participants. While it’s true that the characters willfully chose to participate in a game that could very likely end their lives, the audience can clearly see the lack of options they have, and that they are in a way all victims of the manipulative makers of the game.
Junior Weston Voigt describes Squid Game as “a solid show” that “does a good job at really drawing you in and keeping you hooked.”
Constant ups and downs make for an entertaining plot, but also leave room for the audience to participate. As members are playing the game, watchers can immerse themselves in the scenes, deciding what choices they would make as the show progresses.
The ending of the show was controversial. There was somewhat of a cliffhanger, leaving the audience wanting more answers, although many loose ends were tied up in the ninth and final episode.
“I thought the ending of Squid Game was quite well done,” junior Max Norton said. “I would give it a 10/10.”
The only major complaints about Squid Game are from people who find issue with the subtitles or English recorded audio. The show was filmed in Korean, so there are options to watch with either of these settings. Many find it hard to focus on the plot when they have to read subtitles or deal with the audio not being matched with the mouths of the actors.
The fact that show was originally filmed in Korean should not deter people from deciding to watch the show. English speakers are privileged to have most of their media catered towards them, and it is important to recognize that show production in other countries can be just as good as in the United States. Overlooking a language barrier is a small price to pay to be able to enjoy such a thrilling series.