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Released on Netflix on Sept. 17, Squid Game was an instant hit around the world. Created, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, Squid Game has struck a chord in viewers for its character development and exciting concept. It is currently the #1 Netflix show in more than 90 countries worldwide and has surpassed 111 million viewers in just one month, marking it as the most-viewed Netflix television series of all time.
Squid Game is not seen as your average, everyday show, as the complete obscurity of the plot and the ideas surrounding it are what make it so popular. Another key aspect in the show’s publicity revolves around its social media presence. As more and more videos about its content began appearing on millions of people’s feeds, the grossing viewership only continued to spike. Just under a month since the hit show was released, videos with the usage of “#SquidGame” on TikTok have more than 39.9 billion views. Squid Games’ ability to spread so far across social media without being seen as overrated only further proves its cinematic genius.
The series is focused on 456 people, all in heavy debt, going against each other in a sequence of deadly childhood games for the prize of 45.6 billion won. Each time someone gets eliminated from games like red light, green light, or tug-of-war, they are killed. The story follows player 456, a man named Seong Gi-Hun (Lee Jung-jae), who has recently gone through a divorce and has persistent money troubles. While he initially believes these games will be fun and easy, he is soon informed about the possibility of death after each round. With 455 other players constantly under surveillance by workers in pink jumpsuits and another mysterious man, Gi-Hun must fight his way through the games to prevail as the sole winner.
The beginning of this series effectively drags viewers in and gets them invested in the story. Exhibiting Gi-Hun as a sad, lonely man longing for money gets viewers to side with the show’s main character. As the story moves forward into the games, Gi-Hun’s character is only further developed, proving him to be a likable and trustworthy person to latch onto.
A critical and highly-stressed part of this story is Gi-Hun’s relationships with the other characters. Cho Sang-Woo (Park Hae Soo), Gi-Hun’s former childhood friend who went to a prestigious business school in South Korea, also attends the games. Because of their former friendship, Sang-Woo and Gi-Hun instantly connect and stick together, especially as others begin to die off. But, the constant shifts in their relationship are some of the most prominent factors in this story. Because the dynamic between the two is often flowing from positive to negative, viewers are able to stay more engaged by trying to pick apart and understand the reasoning behind their problems.
Another fundamental relationship in this story is between Gi-Hun and Kang Sae-byeok (HoYeon Jung). Sae-byeok, a younger yet equally money-hungry player, is initially portrayed as introverted, insecure, and suspicious. But, as Gi-Hun continuously demonstrates his kind, loving personality, she lowers her barriers and allows him to become closer to her. As their relationship evolves, they become more trusting and build a bond between themselves and the viewer, making the show even more engaging.
The neverending shockers, cliffhangers, and tide-changing dilemmas congest the story as viewers try to comprehend what implication each twist and turn can have. The fast-paced storyline helps build up more ideas, problems, and bonds in the story to captivate viewers, proving why Squid Game deserves to be so popular. The show has a few problems, however, including the heavy acts of violence and the constant viewing of people in poor life situations, which can radiate bad behavior, cultivate fear, and desensitize viewers of any age. The main issues with these are the constant showing of negative social dynamics and how wild society can be. Even though many may find this to be an enticing part of the show, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of your everyday watcher. While this is the case for countless popular shows, it is never a great thing to insert into a television series.
Despite these few flaws, the show is able to keep any viewer interested for hours on end. As you bounce from one episode to the next, the story only improves. Overall, Hwang Dong-hyuk’s 9-episode series truly is a work of art. Squid Game should be forever known as not only one of the greatest Netflix shows of all time, but as one of the greatest shows in television history.