Even if you haven’t watched the series or the memes that have taken over social media, then there is no way you haven’t heard of it. Currently, the most popular series worldwide and on track to become Netflix’s most-watched series surpassing Bridgerton is the South-Korean thriller series Squid Games is all that is being talked about!
So, what is the series about?
A dystopian survival thriller set in Seoul, where 456 financially struggling people will wager their lives in popular children’s games to win the ultimate prize (which amounts to billions). The 9 episode long series have given lethal twists to the playground memories – let’s say – where you will be killed by a giant robot if you fail Red Light, Green Light.
Also, the reason for being a huge hit in Korea is its element of nostalgia for them – the Dalgona Candy challenge – where players have to cut out an intricate shape from a thin sheet of honeycomb – an activity that most remember as being a fun part of their childhood.
According to Director Hwang Dok Hyuk in an interview “The games are simple and easy, so viewers can give more focus on each character rather than complex game rules.” At glance, Squid Games seems to be a crossover between Hunger Games and the Oscar-winning movie Parasite, where people can go to any lengths for survival and wealth.
Why the hype?
For most of the viewers, the main reason for its craze is how well one is able to identify with the characters, who come from all walks of life. You are able to sympathise with their situations and their desperate struggles for survival, for betterment. “People are attracted by the irony that hopeless grownups risk their lives to win a kids’ game,” director Hwang Dong-Hyuk says.
For example, the lead, Seong Gi-hun (played by Lee Jung-Jae) is an unemployed gambling addict struggling to financially support his daughter. He wages his life to settle his debts.
As the story advances, we are also exposed to the dark side of human nature, for instance when the prize money is unveiled, players choose to return to the Utopian game, ready to die trying for the prize rather than returning to the life of debts and poverty. And then comes up the very fact that the whole game is organized by a group of billionaires who is bored of their abundance and the misery of the poor is simply their amusement.
The satire turns dark at every turn, where morality has no meaning and people will kill the other to emerge a winner.
Ratings and Reviews
The series has an 8.3/10 on IMDb and a whopping 100% ratings on Rotten Tomato (which speaks for itself, well given the craze). It is currently ranked 1st on over 90 countries in Netflix and has been trending on the US soon after its premiere. There is already a growing demand for a second season.
With a star cast of Lee Jung-Jae (Seong Gi-hun), Park Hae-soo (Cho Sang-woo), Jung Ho-Yeon (Kang Sae-Byeok) and Heo Sung-Tae (Jang Deok-Su), the series is directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, known for dark social justice films and strong, bold styles of storytelling. It premiered on Netflix worldwide on September 17, 2021.
Although the genre is not entirely new, its thrilling scenes, visuals, relatable characters and the nuances of humanity that it explores, makes it a must-watch and is sure to linger on your mind, making you question and ponder.
Squid Games is now streaming on Netflix!