At this point, Squid Game is not even a show anymore. It’s a phenomenon. I mean, it’s so big that even multibillionaire, Jeff Bezos, took notice at how popular the Netflix series is. Personally, I wasn’t even going to watch it, as I’ve been burned in the past by Netflix shows that people told me I HAD to watch that I ended up hating. But SO many people (including my students) were talking about Squid Game, that I just had to see what all the hubbub was about.
And sweet Lord, I’m so glad I did, since Squid Game is my new favorite show on Netflix! Part Battle Royale/part Parasite/part I don’t even know what else to compare it to, Squid Game is unlike any other series I’ve ever watched. I would love to gush over every last detail about the show, I want to entice the people who haven’t watched it yet to give it a try. So, without giving anything away and being spoiler-free, here are five reasons why Squid Game is my new favorite Netflix series, and why you should watch it!
It’s Unique, But Not Just For The Sake Of Being Unique
As just mentioned, I’m not going to spoil the show in this article. That said, if it’s in the preview on Netflix, I think I can at least talk about that, right? I mean, you can go watch that yourself right now if you want to just get a feel for Squid Game. So, if you’ve seen that, then you know that the series is about people who need money competing in a deadly batch of children’s games. The premise kind of sounds like The Running Man, or, for a more recent example, The Hunger Games. And, when my students described it to me, that’s actually the comparison that they made. “It’s like The Hunger Games.”
But, it’s not like The Hunger Games. I mean, it is, and it isn’t. If you can believe it, it’s actually a hell of a lot more nihilistic than that series. Also—and this is kind of what blows me away—but the “games” in this show, while interesting, are not what kept me watching. For example, after a while, I didn’t really even care what games they were going to play. That wasn’t the hook of the show for me. Yes, it’s a unique premise, but it’s not unique just for the sake of being unique. Because deep down, this is a story about the economic disparities that exist amongst people, not just in Korea, but in the entire world. But I’ll get to that more in my next point.
Squid Game Actually Has Something To Say
I mentioned at the start how this show is part Parasite and I think that’s important, since that movie was essentially about the struggling middle class. Now, telling stories that focus on economic struggle might be common in other countries, but it wasn’t until I watched Parasite that I actually saw the varying degrees of the middle class. For example, in that film, the Kim family wasn’t poor, per se, but they were on the lower end of the middle-class structure.
Still, the Kim family looked down upon people who had even less than them. That said, they also looked down upon rich people once they learned that they weren’t very smart. In Western cinema, you usually have the cigar chomping, wealthy businessmen, and the “Can I please have some more?” extremely poor. More caricatures than characters. But rarely do you see the varying degrees of the predominately middle class. Parasite created a form of storytelling that was both foreign to me, but also incredibly relatable.
And Squid Game just expands upon that idea. In this series, you have hundreds of people of varying economic levels who just can’t get by. And the fact that they’re willing to enter a competition to the death since their lives are so miserable back home is extremely telling. It’s black satire, but it’s not funny. Not even remotely. And even though it takes place in Korea, I’m pretty sure there are tons of Americans who can relate to the idea of working so hard, but still not being able to pay rent. Squid Game actually has something on its mind, which is more than I can say for a lot of other Netflix shows.
It’s Another Great Example Of An International Show On Netflix
I know a lot of people watch Netflix for shows like The Outer Banks and Cobra Kai, and that’s great. No disrespect to either show. But Netflix also has a slew of international shows and movies available on its streaming platform that you can watch right now. I’ve already written about how great their anime selection is, but Netflix also has a lot of other great international content as well, especially when it comes to K-Dramas.
And I’m super happy that Squid Game is finally bringing Korean programming to the mainstream. Sure, you can watch it dubbed, but I’m sure a lot of people will watch it with subtitles on to get a true, authentic experience, and that’s just wonderful. One of my students even told me, his English teacher, that I should read the subtitles rather than just watch it dubbed, meaning that he read the subtitles, too. And anything that can get my students to read, on their own volition, is aces in my book.
Squid Game Is Genuinely Surprising
Few things surprise me these days when it comes to TV, as I can usually telegraph what’s going to happen on a show with ease. But Squid Game, time and time again, even up to the very last episode, surprised me. There are only 9 episodes, but I honestly had no idea where the show was going from one episode to the next. Was the next episode going to focus on one of the games, or was it going to be more character focused? I honestly could never tell.
That’s what kept me genuinely engaged. The fact that I couldn’t tell. I wouldn’t just half watch it, and half look at my phone during an episode. I was always focused on every little detail, trying to figure out who I thought would live or die, and I was surprised at every turn. I’m not going to say that the show isn’t formulaic in a sense, as once it’s over, you’re like, yeah, okay. I should have seen that coming. But while you’re watching it, you genuinely don’t know where it’s going, which makes it super impressive.
It Pays To Pay Attention
And here’s the best part. Once you’re finished with it, watch it again, because you’ll see all sorts of foreshadowing and details in the background that basically let you know where the show is heading. Once again, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I will tell you that if you really pay attention, you might have an idea of what’s going to happen next. Believe me, I didn’t see any of it coming on my first watch through, but it’s all there. Clear as day if you’re looking.
What especially blows my mind though is that I have watched it again. I rarely, IF EVER, watch anything more than once (well, besides The Legend of Korra, but that’s like comfort food to me). But as soon as I finished Squid Game, I felt that I needed to watch it again. I just had to jump back into this world, and I couldn’t wait for a Season 2. I needed to see it now, and when I did, that’s when I saw all the details that I missed before.
And that’s it. I seriously love Squid Game! But what do you think? Have I convinced you to watch it if you haven’t already? If not, you could always just watch some of the other best shows on Netflix or learn about other Netflix TV shows. But seriously, you need to watch Squid Game. It’s definitely worth the hype.
Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.
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