Squid Game (2021) | TV Review
by Hannah Gray
You might be tempted to write off Squid Game as just another rehash of the tired fight-to-the-death storyline. And who could blame you? There has been a dull oversaturation of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale wannabes in the last decade. It’s an easy genre to drown in and be disappointed by. But this—this is the real deal.
This South Korean survival drama, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, is everywhere right now. Despite only debuting a month ago, Squid Game has become Netflix’s most-watched series to date. The premise is simple: a group of 456 voluntary players compete in traditional childhood games, that have been rewritten to have fatal consequences, in order to win a ₩45.6 billion cash prize (a whopping £28.2 million). Each player is burdened with heavy debt that would otherwise be insurmountable without this prize. At its core, the series is Dong-hyuk's criticism of the economic disparity in South Korea, a Courtesy of Netflix
commentary that resonates with people all around the world.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this criticism is about to be forced down your throat—the message is laced into a thrilling, often heartbreaking plot that you’ll find hard not to binge.
The ensemble of complex characters, perfectly portrayed on the backdrop of a hauntingly bright version of M.C. Escher’s staircase, makes this series one of the most compelling stories that are currently available on the platform. We follow Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a deadbeat gambling addict who plays to pay off his debts, proving himself as a capable father. He does not play these games alone but forms alliances with a childhood friend, an immigrant, a North Korean defector and a thrill-seeking elderly man. Prepare yourself—the closer these unlikely relationships become, the more violently this show will tug on your heartstrings.
However, the reception hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. Anyone who has ingested foreign, non-English media will be familiar with the “sub versus dub” debate. Unfortunately, in the case of Squid Game, this seems to be a lose-lose scenario. The poor English dubbing distracts from the dedicated performances of the original actors. Likewise, there have been reports that the English subtitles are not accurate to the Korean that they are translating. Ultimately though, these issues have not hindered the show’s popularity in the slightest.
The world is obsessed. The cast’s social media followings have surged, and the pink jumpsuit and green tracksuit costumes are expected to be everywhere this Halloween. Brave the squid game, and let yourself be swept up in the hype.