“Squid Game,” Netflix’s New #1 Trending Series: Binge or Cringe?


Photo by Erick Mendes

“Squid Game,” written by director Hwang Dong-hyuk in 2009, was initially rejected by multiple companies for being too gruesome. However, 12 years later, on September 17, 2021, Netflix released it as a Netflix Original Series. 

The battle royale-like show, a Korean-based series, has had a quick, spontaneous rise to popularity, partially due to social media hype among teens. Since having been released, the show has climbed its way to the number one spot on Netflix’s top 10 list. Additionally, at the time of this writing, the series is expected to be Netflix’s most popular show ever. Still not convinced? Well, “Squid Game” is so successful that Netflix was recently sued by a Korean internet provider after Netflix streams were causing too many traffic surges. Quite the feat for a show that didn’t expect to be this big. 

The Korean drama is a series in which 456 characters get together to compete for a massive lump of money. All of these characters are citizens who are in an unimaginable amount of debt and are thus willing to risk their lives competing to the death in a closeted, private, and secure island for the slim chance at some life-changing money. 

“Squid Game” consists of six main levels or games, each having different competitions. The twist? Each and every game played is based on a children’s game, and they are all different as the rounds go on. They were all based on old, popular Korean-culture games. This adds another layer of mystery as most of the adult competitors played these games when they were little, giving them a sense of deja-vu and some flashbacks to their childhood. However, now they are playing with their lives on the line. The show manages to turn happy childhood memories into a character’s worst nightmare, through seemingly simple games. 

The rules are simple, there are only three that the players need to follow. One: A player is not allowed to stop in the middle of the competition once committed. Two: A player who refuses to play will be eliminated. And three: Games may be terminated if the majority agrees on a vote.

If a player breaks one of the rules, they will be met with a heavy consequence: their life.  In the end, when the winner(s) complete the sixth and final game, they are rewarded a 45.6 billion won prize, or $38 million USD, in the form of a golden debit card.

To add another layer of mysteriousness, some characters wear masks in the show, such as the guards, the front man, and the VIP guests. It is essential so that they don’t show their identity, they are running an illegal battle royale-like game after all. If the guards slip up and let anyone see them without a mask on, they will face crucial consequences too. Like the players, the guards and officials also have to follow strict guidelines. For example, they are not allowed to speak to a superior unless instructed to do so. There is a sort of hierarchy between the guards, three different tiers of power. Each tier is represented by the shape they wear on their mask.

¨Circles are workers, triangles represent armed soldiers, while squares are for managers,” said Hwang Dong-hyuk, writer and director of K-Drama “Squid Game”.

That about finishes up the quick summary of the series, without spoiling anything. 

So, is this show worth watching? Put quite simply, 100 percent yes. “Squid Game” falls under dystopian drama; so if you like “The Hunger Games,” “The Matrix,” or any other dystopian books or movies, then you might be interested in looking further into the show. 

Additionally, if you are someone who is into K-Drama, fast-paced shows, strategy, risks, or anything of the like, then we recommend this show to you. The show will have you on the edge of your chair, bed, couch, whatever it may be, at all times. 

What really makes this show special, though, what makes it stand apart from the rest, is the effect that it leaves on its viewers. It will leave you wondering, speculating about what just happened. It makes you want to revisit past scenes and easter eggs to really get a grasp as to what is going on. 

Additionally, the reasoning behind the show is completely up for each individual to interpret, so it forces you to critically think about what the message may be. And no one can do that except you. 

Alas, we deem “Squid Game” binge-worthy. If you have some spare time, go watch it before you miss out.