Squid Game: A Surprising Sensation


Noh Juhan/Netflix

Lineup of Squid Game characters dressed in iconic red tracksuits

Hillary Lee, Staff Writer

Ever since the new Netflix series “Squid Game” came out, it has been a global phenomenon, reaching #1 on its streaming service in over 60 countries. Not long after its rapid success, Squid Game broke the record, becoming the most-watched program in Netflix history. As of October 2021, “Squid Game” is worth about $900 USD Million to Netflix, according to several documents reviewed by Bloomberg.
Bloomberg’s analysis also reported that after a mere 23 days of its initial release, the series has reached over 132 million households, beating out ‘Bridgerton,’ which reached about 82 million households within 28 days of its release date. According to CNBC, the show only took about $21.4 million USD to produce, so it created high profit.
The gruesome dystopian series follows participants in debt by letting them play a variety of children’s games so they have the opportunity to pay off what they owe. However, if they fail to complete a game, they get killed off immediately. “It’s like an adult graphic video game,” mentions Amy Lu, the communication studies professor in the College of Arts, Media and Design. Lu explains how the show itself is very ironic due to the contrast between its pastel-colored aesthetic and its extremely disturbing content.
The series starts off by introducing the main protagonist, Gi-hun, a middle-aged man that owes wads of money to the bank. He is divorced, and lives with his mother, however, he also has a daughter to provide for, who lives with his wife. Gi-hun often steals money for entertainment reasons which causes him to be more in debt than he already is. His hopelessness leads him to encounter a mysterious man on the subway, who offers around $50 if Gi-hun can beat him in a simple game. Gi-hun eventually beats him, now feeling inclined to trust the stranger. The man offers Gi-hun a chance to win a fortune that can pay off all his debt, so Gi-hun calls the number given on the business card. Once he arrives at the destination, he soon realizes that his fate lies in the hands of the game makers. Gi-hun must make a choice to continue participating in these twisted games and potentially win 45.6 billion won, or he can walk away with nothing and go back to his old, meager, yet safer lifestyle.
One of the key points presented in this series is the relationship between Gi-hun and his best friend, Sang-woo. Both of these characters have contrasting personalities, which creates a captivating dynamic. These games put their friendship to the test, and the audience follows the two as they determine their priorities in life: is it money or friendship?
Squid Game has definitely attracted a large audience, with its original storyline and unapologetic grim. Now, viewers eagerly await the series’s second season, which Netflix has confirmed is already in the works.