Media Beat: Netflix’s “Squid Game” keeps audiences on the edge of their seat

“Squid Game” is on track to be one of Netflix’s most-watched shows. 

The story follows Seong Gi Hun — played by Lee Seung-gi — a man down on his luck who enters a mysterious competition somewhere between an elementary school field day and the Hunger Games. The contestants compete in simple children’s games, but if they lose, they’re killed. With the six rounds of the competition and an inordinate sum of money on the line, desperate contestants make friends and alliances but then brutally backstab each other.

The show is a social critique aiming at the desperation caused under capitalism. Meanwhile, the audience explores the shadowy figures and inner workings of these twisted trials, revealing plot twists and cliffhangers, making you want to hit that next episode button. Despite its cutthroat premise, the show also provides heartwarming moments of friendship and teamwork.

My favorite thing about the show is its exploration of each character’s morals. In each dire circumstance, every character reacts individually in whether they work for a team to live or for only themselves to succeed. Every action feels justifiable from each character’s standpoint, and the chemistry between the actors sells this complexity. I felt emotionally invested in each character’s success and failure, and the show takes its time to introduce who everyone really is. The show is also very well paced, allowing for reveals and realizations to happen just at the right moments, keeping the viewer engaged to the very last second. “Squid Game” excels at being able to turn on a dime from heartwarming to gut-wrenching, and then to a dark humor rug pull.

I would recommend this show to anyone interested in game theory, who has a dark sense of humor, or anyone with a hope for humanity — in other words — just about everyone. That said, this show is not for those with particularly squeamish stomachs — there is a lot of gore and a few suicide attempts. The show is also written and performed in Korean. I felt no problems using subtitles and the English dub, but that may impact others’ viewing. Another thing to know before watching this show is that female characters are noticeably given less attention than their male counterparts. Despite this, the female characters that are there are well developed and created some of my favorite interactions in the show. 

In short, I loved the show and can’t wait to see what season two will bring, but it will be a tough trick to pull off twice.

4.5 out of 5 Big Oles.


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