Squid Game: The Show to Die For

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The official series poster for Squid Game featuring its main cast inside the game’s facility.

Willem Lent, Student Life Editor

Debuting worldwide on September 17 via Netflix, Hwang Dong-hyuk’s Squid Game quickly became wildly popular. In the show, hundreds of contestants enter a deadly competition for a grand prize of a whopping ₩45.6 billion won. With nine episodes each around an hour long, the contestants must survive through several brutal challenges in order to get just one step closer to the grand prize.

While it is not the first show with a death-game premise, Squid Game has a very unique presentation. The whimsical, surreal aesthetic of the competition’s location create a strong juxtaposition to the torture the contestants must perservere through. 

The show is full of compositionally amazing, fascinating shots with clashing aesthetics and incredible lighting. Each contestant is someone the viewer can root for, and the actors portray their moral and emotional complexities very well. None of the contestants in the game are morally black or white; their moral greyness grants a certain degree of relatability even in such an extreme scenario.

Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), the character the audience follows, is initially very unlikable. He makes careless financial decisions and has little regard for others. Despite this, he eventually forms a group of misfits in order to survive, becoming a friend and even a leader for them. The show is full of twists, betrayals, and death, and the way each contestant responds to the trauma of the game gives each of them a chance to shine. The variety and authenticity of the cast is something integral to the show’s success and storytelling.

Squid Game also provides a critique of the predatory nature of the capitalist system, with every contest in the game being severely in debt and essentially coerced into competing just for a chance to win. Gi-hun has a severe gambling addiction while being unable to find work to provide for his daughter and ailing mother, thus forcing him and others like him into situations they’re not meant to survive.

Twitter and TikTok have flooded with Squid Game content, with memes and analyses further spreading word of the show. Discussion has also arisen regarding a potential season two of the show based on the ninth episode’s ending as well as a handful of unresolved mysteries left with the series’ end. 

The ending itself unfortunately undoes a lot of development in the first eight episodes and tries too hard to tie up every loose end in a messy and clichéd way. Some of the show’s biggest mysteries and even parts of its socioeconomic commentary are cast aside in favor of a rather unsatisfying ending. Still, the nature of the game itself and those truly running it remain to be seen, leaving plenty of room for the writers to work.

A word of advice for anyone looking to start the series: don’t get too attached. The show is more than willing to flip the script or heighten the stakes at any time, and you never truly know when a contestant will be eliminated. Squid Game keeps its contestants and its audience on their toes, delivering a truly gut and heart-wrenching experience.