Why Squid Game swam its way to the Top


Avery Owens

Written and created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, “Squid Game” emphasizes it’s eccentric costume and set designs. With only a budget of 24 million, this fan favorite thriller series brought in almost 891 million for the top-rated streaming service, Netflix.

Olivia Zavala , Staffer

Produced initially in South Korea and released on September 17, 2021, Netflix’s “Squid Game” found itself to be the most-watched title in 76 countries across the globe after just two weeks. The main character, Seong Gi-Hun, is introduced as a man with many struggles- a gambling addiction, being an absent father and leaving his elder mother to pay the bills. After a day of bad luck, a man in the subway changes everything with a game of Ddakji, a traditional South Korean game. Gi-Hun is given the opportunity to play in 6 childhood games against 455 other players for a cash prize of almost $39 million. All players invited to this game struggle with some form of debt or financial despair, making the cash prize more appealing. The first game is a simple one, red light green light, and all players feel confident until someone is caught moving and quickly and violently eliminated. Everything changes when the players realize there is more than money on the line; it is life or death.   

This show takes a gruesome yet oddly entertaining approach to real-life issues most dystopian stories address, but somehow this time around, almost 82 million streamers are paying attention. A prominent theme throughout the series is poverty and the economic separation that comes along with it. One rule of the game is that everyone must remain equal while playing, that this is their last, fair chance to redeem themselves. Assigning the players numbers dehumanizes them and adds to the idea that they are nothing more than entertainment to the VIPs, who bet on their lives.   

The show brings to light many issues, such as the greed every character illustrates throughout the nine episodes. People are shown committing barbaric actions simply at the reminder of the lump sum of cash awaiting them if they win. I feel the writers took a dramatic approach to this idea of how overwhelming greed can be. Still, when observing the circumstances in which these people find themselves in, playing a game of life and death, they are essentially put in a place where they have no choice. The show depicts two opposing sides of what greed does, those who are trying to survive for the money and those who use their immense amounts of money to play with the lives of others.   

“Squid Game” does well regarding their character development. Characters are shown defying their original expectations, even on their death beds. The main character, Gi-Hun, begins to change for the better at the end of the series until something distracts him from this brighter path, and it is the realization that more people are at risk. This desire to protect others sets the show up for a second season, hopefully following suit of being a hit.   

I would recommend this show to those who can handle gore, are fans of a plot twist, and can identify the purpose behind such an intense storyline. Creating a nine-episode season allows for this addictive desire to finish and find out who is really behind the games. Overall, my rating on the show would be 8.5/10. It is an experience that you cannot seem to tear your eyes away from. “Squid Game” is a spectacle of humans being beaten down to their most dehumanized forms and left to fend for themselves, no matter who they hurt along the way.