People are hysterically calling it the Netflix show of the year. Squid Game is not only doing well as an international, non-English-language series, it is doing very well overall on Netflix. Forget Lupine, Casa de Papel or that guilty pleasure called Bridgerton, people are absolutely right about Squid Game.
When I was about 16 years old, I saw Battle Royale. The Korean film in which a group of young people are evicted on an island with all kinds of weapons and in which only one person remains. It really took a while before my brain stopped thinking about Korean schoolgirls every time I wrote something about PUBG or Fortnite. Battle Royale made an impression.
Not so much because of its violence, although that undoubtedly plays a part, especially because the concept is so fascinating. You’re going to think: what would I do if I was in this situation? It may seem like there is no choice, but of course there is always one. It’s the same in Squid Game. In fact, in that series the creators of the game are very reasonable.
Squid Game sounds like a funny cartoon with a squid or like a game studio that had an indie hit. It’s not both. It is a Korean series whose first season has been on Netflix for a week. The concept is simple: take a few hundred Koreans who are deeply in debt, put them together and instruct them to play six children’s games.
This game I know as Annemaria Koekkoek is played, cookies eaten and rope drawn. You would almost think it is a children’s camp for adults. The rules are also quite simple: once the game has started, you cannot stop. You have to follow the rules of the game and lastly, the game can stop, but only if a majority of the group agrees.
Ultimately, of course, they don’t invite poor people for nothing: there is a huge amount of money to be won. On the other hand, if you don’t follow the rules of the game, you will be eliminated. In short, if you move in a game at the moment when you have to stand still, you will be shot. Well, those are the rules. And those rules sometimes lead to a bloodbath. And they say money stinks.
Squid Game is in some ways a kind of chopped up battle royale. In every game I completely empathize and think about what I would do. In the meantime, you also have to empathize with the protagonist of the play, Seong, because he is breeding his life completely and then seeing the Squid Game as the only way out. The clever thing is that showrunner Hwang Dong-hyuk also very consciously made him a terrible sucker.
It is actually quite difficult to empathize with him as a person, but because of everything that happens privately around him, at a certain point you shout ‘Hwang, Hwang!’ to your television, as if you were watching a Formula 1 race. looks. And this series has many more twists and turns than the average race. Sometimes it is even extremely absurd.
There are games in which people have to make very strange movements. Or the place where the soldiers who run the game roam, that’s like looking at cotton candy every time. The extremely raw, dark story, the mindless bloodshed, it’s all balanced with bits that have heart, or are simply very absurd. It’s like watching a dream, which sometimes turns into a nightmare, and then goes back to a dream again. And yes, it does go back to that nightmare.
Required: your full attention
Many people watch Netflix while doing something else, but you can’t if you’re watching something in a language you don’t master. You have to watch it with your full attention, so you see the entire series exactly as it is intended. You’ll soon be completely immersed in the great Korean world and that strange Squid Game world within.
It only took me half an episode to be completely hooked. Night’s rest? Well, three hours of sleep is enough. So be aware of whether you are going to watch this series alone or with someone else, because once you start, you want to continue watching and is not always socially desirable.
What makes this series really brilliant in my opinion, that’s how that thought of: how would I behave in this game? is transcended at some point. It is no longer just about children’s games, but about the way the world works, the role that money plays and how people interact with each other. And above all: why?
Don’t worry, you probably won’t end up in an existential crisis, because in the meantime people are still dying in the weirdest ways and bizarre situations keep happening in the most childish settings.
In Roblox and other games, the games from Sguid Game are fully imitated, even with good-looking outfits. I bet the Dutch carnaval will also have some Squid Games outfits next year. Let me tell you: you can check out the craziest creative excesses using the hashtag #squidgame on social media. Don’t do it though. Not going to TikTok yourself will save you a few hours of your life. Hours you can put into… yes, watching Squid Game. Just do it.