Review – Squid Game

South Korean drama features raw emotion, triggers backlash

“Squid Game” is a South Korean drama recently released on Netflix where contestants play a series of games for a cash prize. The games are versions of childhood playground games, but the catch is that the losers face a deadly consequence that is often shown in graphic detail. While “Squid Game” showcases strong emotion and a suspenseful plotline, it may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

The show begins with protagonist Seong Gi-Hun, played by Lee Jung-jae, receiving an offer to play Squid Game. Like every other character that received this offer, Gi-Hun is severely in debt. He signs over his rights and is shortly taken into custody. 

The game starts out with 456 players but ends abruptly after the first game when the majority of the survivors opt out after seeing the other contestants shot. After being returned to their former indebted lives, however, many of the players choose to return and continue the game for the potential prize money. 

When the players return to the game, alliances are formed and enemies are made. One key relationship between characters is with Gi-Hun and a character usually referred to as “Old Man,” who revealed to Gi-Hun that he has a fatal brain tumor and has nothing to lose. Towards the end, the show has a cruel twist when it is revealed that the game is run by a group of men referred to as “VIPs,” who started the game so they could bet on players for entertainment.

According to Netflix, “Squid Game” has become their biggest launch, reaching 111 million viewers since it was released in September of 2021. However, the show has received backlash for its violent nature and it is not recommended that children watch it. Netflix advises its subscribers that the show is for a more mature audience, ages 16 and up, so this is not surprising information.

Even with the backlash, the show features raw human emotion in the characters and addresses a darker side of the human psyche rarely depicted in today’s television. It shows the bare desires of people in desperate need of help, and then it shows the near inhuman ways they go about fulfilling their needs that border on greed. 

Although their actions are based on needs, many of these actions were horrific and should not be repeated in real life. Thinking through things logically before doing them probably would’ve kept many of these characters out of the game. Many times during the show, it is demonstrated that brash actions often lead to unwanted consequences.

While the show continues to gain viewers and I personally enjoyed “Squid Game,” people need to keep in mind that they can’t unsee things. The things that are watched and listened to have the ability to affect the viewer. Even though “Squid Game,” like many other series, can be positively impactful on the way people view the world, viewer discretion is advised.