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Why Everyone is Raving About the New Netflix Hit “Squid Game”

Squid Game is a new Netflix show that has exploded in popularity, becoming the platform’s most-watched series in history— And for good reason. Everything from its storyline to its characters is well-produced, not to mention that its social commentary is excellently timed with relevant economic crises across the globe.

The basic premise of the show is that several hundred people are gathered in a game to compete to the death. These contestants, all individuals in crippling debt and financial ruin, must participate in a series of six children’s games. Those who make it through all six win a glorious cash prize, and those who don’t are killed. This concept is carried by the show’s excellent characters, good pacing, and various plot points that come together wonderfully.

The concept of a death game is not new, but what makes it so appealing is the twist of children’s games. The happy memories of a childhood long gone, juxtaposed with the bloody and brutal reality of the game in the present, creates an eerie yet nostalgic atmosphere, which I believe is what makes the concept so intriguing.

The show plays with juxtaposition in other areas as well. For example, at one point the camera continuously switches between the emotionally charged situation of the players and the casual entertained atmosphere of the rich men who are watching it happen. The disorientation the viewer experiences, as a result, contributes to the disturbing reality the show aims to create.

All of this is balanced with comedy mixed into the drama and violence, as well as careful pacing and plot progression that keeps the audience engaged. I personally managed to watch it all in the span of two days, and this is coming from someone who normally can’t stand shows. The numerous side plots ended on a satisfying note, though there is room for some aspects to be touched upon, such as the origins of the suited staff members.

Aside from all of this, the characters are what drew many people to the show, and understandably so. They are not original at their core, following common film tropes such as a cold mysterious girl and a dedicated investigator. However, phenomenal acting, the exploration of their backstories, and the intricacies of their complex relationships with each other, despite occurring in such a short time period, make the characters multidimensional and as a result, incredibly well-loved. Each character was given the necessary screen time to grow and develop, which made their inevitable death hurt all the more.

The main character of the show, Gi-hun, is a deeply flawed character, but incredibly realistic and with a heart of gold. He is interesting because he doesn’t take the “just a guy” role that some shows like to use, nor is he the perfect hero, or Mary Sue trope, as people like to call it. He is a man with empathy and morals, but still has clear flaws that the show explores, such as being unable to balance his relationships with his family members, particularly his mom and daughter. This continues to the end of the show, where he is forced to face the consequences of his actions. However, he still goes through character development, maturing from the notion that “money solves anything,” and taking up some semblance of responsibility, as seen when he finally got Sae-byeok’s brother out of the orphanage. 

One problem with Gi-hun however, is that in comparison to other characters, such as Sang-woo, who spent the show grappling with a deep moral crisis, he just doesn’t stand out as much. There is also the issue of his plot armor. It is predictable that he will survive and win the games, which detracts from the tension of key scenes in the show.

The main reason Squid Game garnered so much attention, however, is the relevant social commentary it provides. It is a clear critique of capitalism and draws attention to the brutal reality of the lower class. The games are a metaphor for the life-and-death game that the poor endure every day, a message that resonates with people in a time where the economy is facing hardships in every part of the globe, and class differences are becoming more apparent than ever. Contrary to what some may take from the show, it isn’t another dunk on the awful reality of human nature. Rather, Squid Game criticizes the systems that we as a society continue to uphold, which forces people to take immoral routes for the sake of survival.  In addition, the show brings into question what we value and why particularly through the way it addresses the disillusionment that comes with excessive wealth.

So, should you watch Squid Game? I say absolutely. While not perfect, it is still a wonderful show in its own right and deserves much of its current hype across the web.  Even with my personal biases, I believe that the message it communicates is one that needs to be heard now more than ever. I would rate Squid Game a solid 9/10, but you don’t need to take my word for it; You can just watch it yourself and leave comments with your opinions down below. 

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