Review: “Squid Game” is Netflix’s most popular show in history

“Squid Game” has become the most popular show in 90 countries all over the world

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Netflix’s recent show “Squid Game” has become the most popular show on Netflix, ranking No. 1 in 90 countries across the world. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Samuel Berg, Staff Writer

Spoilers ahead. Netflix’s newest drama series “Squid Game” has not only become the most popular show that Netflix has released, but also may have had a hand in saving the platform by bringing ratings back to the top. 

“Squid Game” was written and produced by Hwang Dong-hyuk. Hwang wrote the script in 2008 as a movie, but no production companies wanted to make it because of the violent nature of the film. In September 2019, Netflix agreed to produce the nine-episode show, where the show would premiere one year later. That opportunity Netflix took went on to show the world about Korean culture, and it has become the biggest show Netflix has ever released. 

The show follows Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a gambling addict who is about to lose custody of his daughter because she’s moving to America with her mother. One night, Gi-hun is waiting at a subway when a man approaches him and asks to play a game for money. 

When Gi-hun finally wins, the man offers Gi-hun a chance to join another game to win even more money. Considering he has little money to support his daughter and pay off his debts, Gi-hun agrees to play. 

Gi-hun and 455 other contestants living in similar situations are brought to a private island to play six Korean children’s games and the winner gets a large cash prize. However, the contestants are not told that if they fail to complete the games, they get killed. 

Throughout the show, we see moral conflicts within the contestants of the show. For characters like Gi-hun, he has a hard time deciding whether to betray his ally, Oh Il-nam (O Yeong-su), during one of the games, which leaves him in tears. For other characters like Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo) and Kang Sae-byeok (HoYeon Jung), they will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to win the money for their families. 

Since its release on Sept. 17, “Squid Game”  has quickly gained rapid international success. The show has become the most popular show in upwards of 90 countries all over the world, according to writer Shawn Lim. 

“The show became the first Korean drama to top Netflix’s top 10 weekly most-watched TV show charts globally and reached No. 1 in 90 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom,” Lim said in a The Drum article.

Netflix started seeing a decline in rating because of other streaming services such as Disney+, HBO and Apple TV according to a Market Place article. However, with “Squid Game’s” release, Netflix has risen back to the top as the most popular streaming platform with the show becoming the biggest release in the streaming services history, according to Indiewire writer Tyler Hersko.

Netflix claimed on October 12 that “Squid Game” had reached 111 million viewers, making it the biggest series launch in the streaming service’s history,” Hersko said in an Indiewire article.

One of the reasons for “Squid Game’s” success is how it was able to be watched across the world. Although it is a Korean language series, the show is also subtitled in 31 different languages and is dubbed in 13 different languages, allowing for the show to reach a multilingual audience.

For a South Korean show to receive such universal praise is something special for the international film industry. “Squid Game” also introduced many Korean cultural references including the Dalgona candy and Squid Game children’s games. These references help open audiences to a little more of what Korean culture is like.

The soundtrack throughout the show is something that may be overlooked because of what is on the screen. But it creates a suspenseful and anxious feeling during the more action-packed parts of the show while using more somber music during moments of sadness or betrayal. 

As someone who loves horror, action and psychology in film, this was a show I fell in love with. Netflix took a chance by putting out a show that had been overlooked for eight years, and it ended up being the biggest show in their history. 

A year after he has won the game, Gi-hun decides to fly to America to see his daughter. While he is at the airport, he sees the same man who got him to join the game a year prior to playing the same game with another man. 

Gi-hun takes the card from the man and calls the number on the card and calls the number to stop the game. By the end of the phone call, Gi-hun decides to not get on the plane to America, looking determined to stop the games from happening again and potentially setting up a follow-up season to Netflix’s most popular show.

“Squid Game” is not for the faint of heart. It is a show that deals with violence and betrayal. But it is a great look into what happens to people who are desperate for money. It is a concept that is similar to the “Hunger Games” but they are uninformed about the stakes of the game.