Poisoned Apple: ‘Squid Game’ evokes strong reactions


Image used with permission from Netflix

The official poster for Squid Game displays the piggy bank of money hovering over the characters heads, just out of reach.

This Netflix phenomenon has taken to the charts, rising to be the most watched new series ever, according to Netflix. “Squid Game” is Netflix’s gruesome, cheerfully colored Korean show about a series of childhood games played to the death. The reactions are quite polar, as watchers are either fascinated or repulsed by the show. With global fans dressing up in the characters’ tracksuits or making dalgona candy and critics complaining of plot holes and unnecessary gore, this new show has landed on the international stage, and has also found its way into everyone’s conversations. 

This show revolves around the series of children’s games, but the real plot lies in the people. In a NY Times interview, Lee Jung Jae, the main actor, stated that the show isn’t about playing survival games, but about the relationships between the characters in the game. The characters in the story are all in staggering amounts of debt, joining the game to win the prize of 4.56 billion, the equivalent of $3,881,743. They soon realize that the consequence of losing is ultimately death. 

Despite the huge stakes, the characters begin to form bonds with each other, learning each other’s names and forming friendships. Each person begins to get comfortable with someone, becoming close in the midst of a killing game. The game even cruelly takes advantage of these bonds, forcing the players to choose partners to play one of the later games. The characters pick someone they are close to or friends with, but they end up finding out that only one out of the two will make it out alive. This is a devastating turn of events, as viewers sympathize with the characters as they make the heart-wrenching decision of who will die and who will go on. 

People continue to get killed off, until only the winner remains standing. In the end, this winner, so demoralized and horrified at the events that took place, does not even touch any of the prize money. Season one of the show concludes with the winner deciding not to get on a plane to LA but stay in Korea, leading viewers to believe that there will be a season two. 

Viewers have many theories about what’s to come, thinking of possibilities such as the winner becoming the frontman and supervisor for the next game, infiltrating the games to play once again, or finding ways to prevent the next game from happening. Some love the gore and bloodiness of the show, while others hope that it will be tuned down in the next season. On a bigger scale, “Squid Game” has paved the way for future international shows and K-dramas. It has landed in the global spotlight, which is a huge step in the positive direction for all Asian shows in the Western audience.