‌”Squid‌ ‌Game”:‌ ‌A‌ ‌rapid‌ ‌rise‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌top‌



The focus on global content that “Squid Game” brought has paved the road for it to become one of the most popular shows in the world. “It [Squid Game] was full of mystery and twist. The show was unique because it was available worldwide and had a very interesting concept that left me wanting more after each episode,” sophomore Tyler Goldfine said. The show reached such a wide variety of people due to the diversity of languages it aired in.

Hannah Gresham, Features Editor


The recent release of a Korean-style fictional show, “Squid Game”, shattered numerous records on Netflix. Since its premiere on September 17, viewership has increased by 481% in less than a month. Within the first 28 days of its release, the show reached 111 million viewers, using Netflix’s metric of people who watched for more than two minutes, which beats every other show by millions of viewers. The former most popular show, Bridgteron, quickly got shoved to second place, and the Korean hit does not plan on leaving its position any time soon. 

An obsession formed for the surprisingly gruesome show, which, across only nine episodes illustrates a heap of people in debt voluntarily competing in a set of sadistic games with the promise of more money than they know what to do with. The simple plot and touch of child-like setup make for an engaging watch. The show portrays a clear commentary on how financial instability and inequality can control a person’s decisions and cripple them to the point of absolute desperation. 

Hwang Dong-hyuk, the writer and director of the show, conjured the idea in 2008 and wrote the script a year later, yet it constantly faced rejection from studios due to its “bizarre” and “unrealistic” concept. Since then, society morphed into a place where this peculiar plot relates to real-life issues. The characters’ desires align with numerous viewers, such as hitting the jackpot and discovering a life of peace. While the theme did not represent society just a decade ago, COVID-19 widened the gap between rich and poor, making the classic struggles the players face more of a reality. The emphasis on the top 1% controlling the lower classes accurately portrays what countless people already believe.

 “I also think people are attracted by the irony that hopeless grownups risk their lives to win a kids’ game. The games are simple and easy, so viewers can give more focus on each character rather than complex game rules,” Hwang Dong-hyuk said.

“Squid Game” offers a level of simplicity that most modern shows do not. While it accomplishes the extreme in countless aspects, it still keeps a narrow focus on the characters’ lives. The setting stays to a minimum, mostly consisting of the childlike setup the games all contain. Even in the ranking of the henchmen, who wear red jumpsuits and masks and assist in keeping the games running smoothly, three simple shapes emblazoned on their masks define their positions. The use of simple symbols and colors allows for a clear distinction between the players and henchmen. 

Additionally, “Squid Game” owes its rise to the top to the concept of gamification of survival. This idea of competing to survive presented itself before, in popular movies like The Hunger Games or Battle Royale. Pitting people against each other in a fight for their life brings out an unknown side, a side that catches viewers’ attention and makes them watch it through to see who will remain until the end. However, unlike these movies, “Squid Game” incorporates another aspect: children’s games. Mixing gruesome outcomes with simple games provides an oddly appealing plot, one that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats. For example, in ominous preparation for the first game, players walked through an Escher-inspired staircase, adorned with bright colors similar to a children’s playground. The players assembled to play a simple game of red light green light and then like flies, they began to drop. 

“The violence really puts an exclamation mark on the human struggle elements. [It] shows just how far these people are willing to go, they would rather endure this level of violence, or chance of violence, than deal with the system outside of the game,” psychiatrist Dr. Praveen Kambam said.

In addition, the show easily evokes emotion from those watching it. The strong use of pathos forces watchers to grow attached to the characters, who all possess their own trauma and struggles. Whether motivation to play the game stems from fear of not providing for loved ones or from experiencing legal trouble, all the characters hold their own backstories that tug at viewers’ heartstrings and provide them with hope for their survival. For example, Seong Gi-Hun, player 456 and one of the main characters, struggled to provide for both his daughter and mother with the sizable amount of debt he owed. The threat of his daughter moving away and his mother’s impending need for surgery hung over his head, making fans even more sympathetic to his situation. Instead of all the characters turning bleak and violent in order to survive, viewers can appreciate the emotional rollercoaster they go through while viewing the unfolding spectacle.

All good shows incorporate twist endings and cliffhangers, and “Squid Game” enthusiastically utilizes this trope whenever they can. Not only does each episode end leaving the viewer with questions, but the final episode provides a twist ending that entirely changes the audience’s perception. 

A show that took over ten years to make spread like wildfire across social media within a week of the initial release. Fans even attempted to play the games on Tiktok, and NC hosted their own rendition of the red light green light game during a pep rally. “Squid Game” set a new bar for Netflix shows, and fans cannot wait for a second season.

“‘Squid Game’ was so unique because it could demonstrate the character’s natural human instincts. The main characters went from being best friends to fighting each other till death. It was interesting to see how everyone had a different reason for being there like the old man just stayed for fun and to enjoy the risk. Other shows just don’t compare to it,” senior Kevin Pereira said.