What's on the Box? Squid Game

Image Credit: Rebecca Kelly

Vanshika Dhyani contemplates if Squid Game really deserves to be Netflix’s biggest success to date.

Netflix hit Squid Game has exposed netizens to South Korea's classist society, and they can’t get enough. The dystopian survival series opens by setting the mood for debt and deceit which matures into its central theme, alongside murder and mystery. The series escalates swiftly, nurturing its dark allure throughout the season. By the end of the first episode, you can’t click the 'Next Episode' button fast enough, ready to binge-watch. 

The show follows Seong Gi-hun— the poster child for dishonesty, an absent father, an ungrateful son and a gambling addict. Over nine episodes, the series paints his journey from a broken home to a broken place where dreams go to die. Gi-hun meets a man at the train station who gives him a card that becomes his ticket to the game. The story progresses when he befriends other players to stay in the game long enough until they are the only people he needs to be on the lookout for. But is Squid Game really worth the watch? 

I think not. Squid Game could be a good watching experience for first-time audiences who have not bought into the hype yet. I watched it when it had already been trending on #1 in 94 countries, and I was very critical of it, especially since the last time I watched such a hyped Korean production (Parasite), I was very pleased. 

Although the series offers an intense social commentary on capitalism, and delivers it with pangs of survival instincts, it is nothing more than an NSFW version of The Hunger Games. The build-up is strong, keeps you at the edge of your seat all the way until the end of the 8th episode. Then, it plummets with an anti-climactic end. 

So where did it go wrong? Squid Game fails to deliver, falling short of its unspoken promise to excite, shock and surprise. Thrillers work in anticipation, the viewers willingly want to be proven wrong when it comes to guessing plot twists. They want to be hit in the face by something that they didn't see coming. Squid Game spoon feeds a mediocre plot lathered in blood and gold, forcing the jaw-droppers you expected to find, released in a yawn. 

...spoon feeds a mediocre plot lathered in blood and gold, forcing the jaw-droppers you expected to find, released in a yawn.

The commercial success of the show can be attributed to Netflix's inability to meet ever-increasing user demand for 'different.' The film industry has evolved, it is no longer a saturated market for the rich and famous; diluted by new artists and productions, the industry demands originality. Squid Game is derivative and disappointing and it’s hard to see why it became Netflix’s biggest success thus far.