Imagine being in debt, chased by loan sharks and having nobody to turn to. Then, one day, a stranger in a suit offers you money if you play a game with him and win.
That is basically the starting point of the South Korean Netflix show, “Squid Game.” It aired on Sept. 7 on Netflix and has since become a huge hit. Memes and other references of the nine-episode-long show are taking over the internet; everyone seems to be talking about it.
“Squid Game” follows the protagonist Gi-hun, who finds himself at a desperate time in his life. Meeting that stranger in a suit changes his life forever. He plays the game and gets the money and a business card inviting him to another game that promises even more money if he wins. Along with Gi-hun, 455 other players enter the game to win the prize money, risking their lives in the process. They need to win all six games; if they lose, they are “eliminated,” as their contract states. Every game is based on Korean children’s games, including the one that gave the show its name: squid game, a “type of tag where offense and defense use a squid-shaped board drawn in the dirt.”
The show is well-written with many moments of surprise as the plot takes quite a few more turns than one would expect. It has a unique style to it: apparent mazes with colorful stairs and doors, making one think of a children’s room, paired with the childishly pink color of the soldiers’ uniforms in a huge contrast to the life-threatening nature of the games. At the same time, all the players seem to be stripped of their identities; they only go by their player numbers and all wear the same green jumpsuit and white slip-ons. For the sake of their lives, they are forced to trust each other – despite the prospect of betrayal at any given moment constantly looming over them.
In addition to that, “Squid Game” portrays multiple social issues in South Korea, such as the debt crisis, the struggles of the migrant population as well as North Korean defectors and the stigma they face. The presentation of these issues in the show serve not only as plot devices but also as a reflection of living in South Korean society, the uphill battle to survive in a capitalist world and the downfalls of its consumerist culture.
Altogether, I give “Squid Game” 4.5 out of five crabs; it’s definitely worth (binge)-watching. So, what are you waiting for?