By now, if you still haven’t heard anything about Squid Game, you must have been a hermit crab, or you must have been hiding under a rock somewhere. The thrilling series has been conquering the top position in Netflix most watched lists all over the world, and spawning countless related products, memes and quotes. It’s on track to be the most watched series on Netflix ever. And audience are starting to speculate about the second season, even though the first one was released only less than 1 month ago.
The show is rated M18, due to its violent nature, but instead of being a niche one for a group of viewers only, it is still attracting more audience everyday. I myself was curious when I saw the poster in the coming soon section of my Netflix app, so I added it to watchlist, but I did not immediately jump into it when it was available, due to the lack of trailer and the fact that the description and some photos from the series looked a bit dubious to me. But the moment I started watching, I got hooked right from the first episode. With only 9 episodes the story was unveiled quickly and the events were fast paced, unlike some other Korean dramas.
The concept of the series is not new. It’s the kind of survival game, where players fight, and even kill, others to live. We first saw it in the global phenomenon called Hunger Games. However, this series is quite different, in the sense that the producers focus on the life stories of the players, and their emotions throughout the course of the game, from their joining day to their demise. It’s not just senseless massacre, or even the games themselves, that makes this series a hit. It’s the rollercoaster emotions of the players, big and small, and the touching story behind each character. The series devotes enough time to each character so that we can understand the reason why they join the game, and build connection with them, so that when they leaf the game, their death sparked in us some kind of feeling.
What I love most about this series is the meaning, stories and sacrifices. All the players joined the game without any idea what would happen to them. However, when reality set in, and they knew the deaths were real, they quickly adapted, found a way to stay alive, and even saved others’ lives. That ability to collaborate and adapt is what helped human evolve from caves to the most prominent species in the world. And it is proven to be vital skill to survive the rest of the game as well.
Another spotlight of the series is how people deal with each other when they need to do whatever it takes to survive. Loyalty is non existent. Allies are created just temporarily, to get through one game at a time. And all the ugly things about human beings surface. They cheat, lie and backstab in order to get through, even willing to sacrifice others, step on others, or hide behind corpses just to get to the next game. And as one player said, nobody was really innocent, and everyone had blood on their hands, the further they proceed in the game, the thicker the blood trail they left behind them. Unlike the first time when they entered the game without any knowledge or expectation, those who decided to come back knew full well what they signed up for and what was at stake, and willing to risk their lives for the remote chance of earning billions and having another restart of life outside. The situation is really kill or be killed, and for those players, it has robbed them of their humanities, only left the human instinct and the primal, animal like behaviours. It’s fair to say that, the further they proceed, the less human they become.
However, right in the center of that survival madness, where there seemed to be no more kindness, only brutality and death, kindness blossomed the shone brightly. The main character was hardly the smartest or strongest player, but what set him apart from others was that he never failed to show kindness, no matter what the situation and how doing so put him at the disadvantage, and might even endanger his own life. He cared about the old man sincerely, and he was not angry with his childhood friend even though that guy sold him short. He took in his team those weaker players that nobody else accepted, and he willingly forgave people no matter how wrong they were to him. That set him apart, and in return, he received help, and kindness was given back to him, mostly in critical moments when he was between life and death. That reminds me of what Cinderella famously said: “Have courage, and be kind”. Be kind to others, and one day others will pay back to you.
So, if you have not watched Squid Game yet, I suggest you should. It’s short, thrilling and hugely entertaining. It will give you a good time, and it may even change the way you perceive life and its value and meaning. And if you have watched it, what do you think about the things I wrote above?