An abundance of anxious minds on the internet, and a fortnight later, Squid Game continues to take over its audience across the hemispheres. Since its release, the show has surpassed the marks for any non-English Netflix show. Besides being the viral talk of the TikTok town and being the most-watched show in more than 90 countries, it is on track to become Netflix’s biggest hit ever, as said by Ted Sarandos, the CEO of Netflix himself.
The web is buzzing with red and green jumpsuits, honeycombs, red light-green light game, and the insinuations of this eccentric game and show, the Squid Game. Par for the course, what is this ⬤▲■ game, and why you should spare the next nine hours on this wicked, gory, survival thriller that will keep you on your toes?
[Images are sourced from Netflix. Keep an eye out for spoilers!]
Squid Game brings the well-known survival trope with realism.
The deadly survival thrillers are not a new genre – take The Hunger Games or Alice in Borderland as examples. However, Squid Game manages to set itself apart from the crowd, where the premise bases itself very close to reality. Themed on the capitalistic social hierarchy laden with dark humour and emotional turmoil of devastating circumstances, this is where the playground pastimes turn into a life-threatening monstrosity. The overall plot is simple but takes intriguing turns to reach the eventual climax.
The plot revolves around the perpetual debtors from different walks of life in dire need of money. In their desperation, they come across ⬤▲■ (squid) game – a scheme of sorts that promises them a grand sum of money as a prize for playing a few innocent childhood games. Succumbing to their helplessness, they agree to play unbeknownst of the deadly catch – refusing to play or losing the game ends with losing their own lives.
Hence the lives of 456 players are put at stake, locked up at a lone island, along with our protagonist’s Seong Gi-Hun, a gambling chauffeur and his childhood friend and white-collar criminal, Cho Sang-Woo, and a North Korean defector, Kang Sae-Byeok. While they try to outwit each other to secure their existence and the grand prize, a police inspector, Hwang Joon-Ho, infiltrates the games in hopes to find his missing brother, where he comes face to face with a horrifying discovery.
Apart from the plot, the production also deserves kudos for using bright imagery juxtaposing the depressing storyline that paints its walls with blood red. The daunting background settings – from the direction to the unmatchable score, induce the same fear of the on-screen players to the viewers sitting at home. For an episodic show, the production feels no less than a movie.
Look out for a talented ensemble as the cast.
The acting lineup for the show is just as impressive. Chief of Staff star Lee Jung-Jae plays the pitiful protagonist, Seong Gi-Hun. The actor is further going to expand his horizons as a director with the upcoming movie Hunt. Prison Playbook fame Park Hae-Soo plays the sly character Cho Sang-Woo. He will also play the role of Berlin in the upcoming Korean remake of the Spanish Netflix hit Money Heist. Furthermore, he will also star in the K-Drama, Chimera, which is about to air soon this year.
Jung Ho-Yeon plays the enigmatic role of Kang Se-Byeok. She is a new face in the acting industry but, has been successfully active as a model. For her first acting role, she has performed brilliantly. She rightfully deserves the praise, turning out to be a fan favourite worldwide. Wi Ha-Joon, who plays the fearless Hwang Joon-Ho, is also finally receiving the recognition he merits from the audience. He has been in many support roles, like in Romance Is a Bonus Book. However, this is his moment to shine, where his character drives the whole subplot.
Aside from the leading roles, the supporting cast is no less than the best with actors like Oh Young-Soo, Heo Sung-Tae, Kim Joo-Ryung and our own Anupam Tripathi, the Indian actor, playing as an illegal Pakistani immigrant, Ali Abdul. Anupam has guest-starred in many dramas and movies, including Taxi Driver, Space Sweepers and more. With a brilliant cast as such, their dedication to their job has brought the characters to life.
Squid Game offers more than what meets the eyes.
The show is a thought-provoking mixed bag of different emotions, and facets of human life, significantly following the motif of how people’s choices make up their life. It makes you question the basis of life, humanity, and the kindness offered and received. In Squid Game, trust is a forlorn concept when your life is up for bets. The choice between life and death seems futile and, humans are reduced to their childlike state, fighting for acceptance and survival on the playground. What might seem a clever move may end up bring all for nothing. In the end, there’s no better prize than the life of a loved one, and no amount of money will ever make up for that. It makes us wonder – how much are we willing to lose for wealth, and will it all be worth it?
Cleverly by the ninth episode, the show leaves its viewers as a subject of their own criticism. The audience too feeds on the fear of the players, partaking in the voyeurism just as what happens in the show. Viewers may assess the characters, but they remain just as vulnerable to their judgement because, in the end, all of us are undeniably human.
Squid Game is a dark tale of capitalism, class divide, frenzy, existence, and distrust. The depiction of the characters and their relationships closely follow the actuality and, that is what brings more engagement, the impression that all of it could be very real. It will compel you to follow through the gruesome brutality in nine episodes till the very end, but as Squid Game has always implied, the choice will remain solely yours.