Lifestyle, Movies & TV

‘Squid Game’: Dystopian at its best

Let’s take the common phrase “no thoughts, head empty” in a literal sense today. Because for the past week, the only thing I’ve been thinking about is Netflix’s new hit show “Squid Game.” 

In case you’re unfamiliar, “Squid Game” is a Korean drama series — that came out Sept. 17 — that focuses on hundreds of contestants who are in desperate need of money. They accept an invitation to compete in children’s games for an astonishing amount of cash, but they soon realize that the stakes are much deadlier than they initially realized. 

That synopsis did not do that show justice. But if I say much more, I’ll be going into spoiler territory. So if you want to go into the series completely blind, I recommend going to Netflix straight away and binging all nine episodes in one sitting because it’s that good. 

The first aspect of this show that drew me in was how complex and well-formed the characters are. Each person had a unique motivation driving them to win that money, and I found myself getting lost among the plot sometimes because I cared for too many of them.

squid game on computer screen
“Squid Game” on Netflix. The dystopian Korean drama series depicts hundreds of financially desperate contestants competing in seemingly innocent games for a large sum of money – until the stakes quickly take a deadly turn. ILLUSTRATION BY BAILEY SHEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Their determination was so realistic and rooted in problems that we face as a society today. Even though this show is dystopian, it felt as if I were looking into a mirror. Every drive and motivation was authentic and genuine. Nothing felt forced. 

What also stood out to me about the show was the atmosphere. Every show has a certain ambiance to it that makes it distinctive in its own way. “Squid Game” did just that. It had a chilling aesthetic to it — one that looked calm and peaceful on the outside but hid darker secrets beneath its facade. Every episode had something sinister to it, but it was never revealed in the opening minutes. 

This show’s range of emotion still blows my mind whenever I think about it. One minute I was laughing. The next, I was on the edge of my seat. By the end, I was a sobbing mess. 

But what made me fall in love with this show was how human it made me feel. Throughout the series, some moments are driven by such cruelty and greed and elicit such deep rage. All you can do is sit there and wonder how in the world someone has the capacity for such evil. It pushes the limits for both the viewers and the characters and puts one overarching question into perspective: how far will you go for money? 

This is a work of bleak, honest art. It doesn’t hold back, which is something I can fully appreciate. Violence, madness and brutality are all treated as frightening symbols that are never censored. There were definitely moments where I felt extremely uncomfortable — that’s only further evidence of how special this show is. 

I can say with full confidence this was one of the best series I’ve watched this year. That’s saying a lot, considering how obsessed I was with the Marvel Studios’ TV shows like “WandaVision” and “Loki,” but “Squid Game” exceeded all my expectations and made me hungry for more content. 

To me, a show is a cinematic masterpiece when I finish it and am left feeling an emptiness that just screams: ‘what do I do with my life now?’ Well, it’s been over a week, and I’m still feeling that hollowness. If that doesn’t pay tribute to the phenomenon that is this show, then I don’t know what will. 

Go stream “Squid Game” on Netflix. That is an order. And trust me, it’s an order you’ll want to follow. Open your laptop, prepare a few snacks and get a giant jug of water to rehydrate yourself after you bawl until you can’t breathe. 

I’m so excited for you. Happy crying.

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