Squid Game: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Hype

By Matthew Maxwell

It’s hard to review a piece of entertainment when said piece of entertainment becomes a global phenomenon. I started watching Netflix’s Squid Game a couple of months after it was released and the hype was intense. From TikTok challenges to meme’s on Facebook to endless mentions on podcasts and television, it was hard to escape the barrage of information being thrown at me about a television show I hadn’t watched yet,

So, when I did finally start watching it after being convinced that I should by the entire world, it was hard not to feel like I was just connecting the dots of out-of-context references I was being fed for months prior. It felt like finally understanding an inside joke months after being told it. Arriving late to the party really put a damper on my enjoyment of the series, and I was mourning the impact the show would have had otherwise. For instance, the first game the contestants play is set up to be a complete shock with intense violence coming out of nowhere. Sadly, because I put the pieces together from months of previously stated barragment, the impact was greatly lessened.

However, despite the feelings I had that the show was ruined for me, I eventually decided to stop worrying about it and instead let myself be drawn into the pretty compelling, dramatic, and sometimes darkly funny nine episodes of this Netflix original. I learned to appreciate the series on its own merits and it greatly improved my viewing experience.

Underneath the buckets of blood lies a show that is a pretty obvious critique of Capitalism: a popular topic these days proven by 2019’s Best Picture winner Parasite (also from South Korea) and Netflix’s other astounding original series Maid. Suffering from the economic disparity that plagues our everyday lives, the contestants are forced to play a series of deadly games in the hopes of winning an obscene amount of money for the entertainment of high-class creeps.

As our main hero, Seong Gi-hun, fights for survival game after game, it’s pretty easy to be drawn in. The series of increasingly bizarre games is a clever conceit to get viewers excited for the next episode to see what absurd torture will be next. Episode 6 is the highlight for me. t takes a surprisingly dramatic turn with an unexpected game involving marbles. Squid Game is seemingly scientifically-engineered in the Netflix lab to be binge-able and it’s undoubtedly entertaining. However, with an unneeded twist and some baffling decisions made by Seong Gi-hun, I feel the series’s epilogue is completely unnecessary and doesn’t add much to the series as a whole.

Squid Games is not a masterpiece, but I do feel that it has earned its hype. In a world where a show can be memed-to-death before you even get a chance to watch it, it’s impressive that something can at least almost live up to its expectations and still surprise you

I also like that along with Parasite, American audiences are embracing the vast array of master works abroad and learning to leap the extremely small hurdle of subtitles (though I embarrassingly watched Squid Games dubbed). So, grab a honeycomb candy and say “green light” to the phenomenon.

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Candice Shea Maxwell

Candice Shea Maxwell

“And if I see you, how it changes me. And if you see me, how it changes you.” — Andrew Bird