The Squid Game
The Squid Game (Netflix, 9 episodes). 455 men and women up their eyeballs in financial difficulties accept an offer to play a game that offers the ultimate winner fabulous wealth. All you have to do is play and pass six easy children’s games. The catch is that these are games to the death. If you pass, you
move on. If you fail, you get shot. Gradually, the contestants are whittled down until the finalists compete in the last game with the winner taking all the marbles.
A lot of points can be made about the show, which include the following. First, it is often an exciting, white-knuckle ride—hold onto to your butts! Two, it is an effective horror show. There is a ton of blood, gore, and violence that is shocking at times. Even after witnessing a bazillion people being shot, it’s still awful seeing it happen right up to the end. Third, strangely this show is deeply character driven. We get to know a handful of the contestants closely and understand who they are, which makes their battle to the death quite poignant in many cases. Fourth, the show is an affecting social commentary on the disparity of wealth and privilege, which is part of the reason it resonates so strongly with many.
This show isn’t for everyone. The violence is extreme. So, if you’re not up to watching people get shot in the head with all the graphic consequences thereof, then best skip this one.
But if the blood and horror don’t deter you, this is an engrossing show. It’s well done and a couple of the actors are outstanding (e.g., Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun). So, for those veterans of horror movies with sturdy constitutions, I would definitely recommend this show as must-see TV. I binged the whole thing in one sitting, something I only rarely have ever done.
Is the show perfect? Hardly, but while I thought the show stumbled in a few places, this didn’t really detract from it overall. For example, there’s a subplot about an outsider infiltrating the games and causing trouble here and there. I thought this subplot was a net waste of time. Also, the ending where the person behind all the games is revealed felt silly. The show didn’t need it.
Although at the time of this writing, the series had not yet been renewed, it is practically a dead certainty that it will be. I, for one, eagerly await season 2, but I’ll be prepared to cover my eyes and plug my ears at certain spots just like I had to in season 1.