“Squid Game” fascinates,

brings new intrigue to horror


Eddie Burgin

“Squid Game” reimagined, featuring Eddie Burgin as contestant 118.

For many fans of thrillers, “Squid Game” would not be a stranger.

Despite only releasing last month, it has already received a storm of support and rave reviews, with Netflix even claiming that “Squid Game” is its largest ever series launch and on its way to being the most-watched series. 

The disturbing societal critique is having early second-season rumors after its warm welcome into the public eye, and there’s plenty to say on the show itself.

From its character and world building to what it does for multiculturalism in media, “Squid Game” is a clear success that I’d recommend to anyone.

Hwang Dong-hyuk, the creator of the nine-episode series, allegedly tried for 10 years to get “Squid Game” produced until it was finally given a chance by Netflix, shooting to the number 1 position in 94 countries, according to multiple news sources. 

A certain amount of hesitance from some media agencies makes some sense regarding the vulgarity and gritty nature of “Squid Game.” It is comparable to a common read from childhood: “The Most Dangerous Game.” 

The series is fundamentally about the struggle of the class divide. While larger than the “The Most Dangerous Game,” it takes on the same ideas of humanity and desperation. A group of 456 people in debt, most with versions of gambling addiction, are invited to participate in games to win a large cash prize. One detail, though, is that they are not informed of the rules initially. 

Those who fail in the games will be “eliminated.” Those who refuse to participate will be “eliminated.” And, finally, the games can be stopped if the majority of players vote to end them.

A strange collection of rules that create instant intrigue. 

The official genres that “Squid Game” falls into simply do not encompass the pure scope of the show. It certainly is a drama, an action fiction, and a thriller. It is also a horror, a mystery, and a declaration on human nature and desperation. 

To note, it does include some rather horrifying and harrowing imagery and aims at a more mature audience, but it doesn’t use these themes frivolously. 

As much as it does well narratively, much is done culturally.

Oscar-winning movie Parasite is an example of another South Korean production critiquing class in society. A dark comedy, thriller, and satire, it follows the poor Kim family as they begin to work for a wealthy family, the Parks, and critiques the greed within society.

With productions like these two leaving Korea, many look forward to an increase in foreign works becoming popular globally. It allows and encourages a look into a separate culture, language, and – in this case – currency. 

“Squid Game” includes many different childhood games, some of which may be familiar to an American viewer but are aimed at a Korean audience. One popular game is Ppopgi in which players attempt to etch out different shapes from dalgona (a crispy honeycomb toffee candy) without the candy breaking. 

With the popularization of media from other countries comes the normalization of their cultures and a broader understanding. It is easy to believe that it would be difficult to connect due to language barriers, but with relatable and genuine characters, it is hard to avoid connection. 

Most who have already watched will likely agree that the characters built into the plot are far from perfect; they are human. Engaging and nuanced and pushed to their limits in life or death situations. The 

Ali, a popular character in the ever-growing fandom, is relatable as a minority, one of two Pakistani men playing, within the games. He is kind hearted, trusting, and compassionate. Along with being a touch of culture shock within an otherwise all-Korean cast, he symbolizes that debt does not make a bad person.

“Squid Game” dabbles in many ideas within ethics and morality, along with its relationship to class. The mixed bag of characters allows a viewing of the wide variety of ways that people can become impoverished, and how gambling may even be a product of that poverty.

It is far from a story of rags to riches or stopping the bad guy. It is about the world and the idea that yes, they agreed to play, but what were their options, really?

There is much to think about and much to pay attention to, from the multiple perspectives conveyed in receiving secrets or solving mysteries at the same time as or even before the main cast. 

It can be a difficult show to keep up with, or even watch due to the moral brutality, but it is far more than just worth it.