“Squid Game” takes over the internet

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Squid Game, a Korean drama miniseries written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, had all nine of its episodes released to Netflix on September 17, 2021. While thousands of shows are released to the streaming platform every month, Squid Game has aggressively caught the attention of audiences around the world. Netflix has reported that the show has garnered over 111 million viewers, becoming the most watched show in the platform’s history in just over one month.

Squid Game’s success can be credited towards it’s unique and horrifying premise. The show documents a game show where hundreds of impoverished contestants play childhood games such as “Red Light, Green Light” for a chance to win a large sum of money. However, those who fail their tasks are brutally murdered.

Despite Squid Game only being spoken in Korean, with subtitles to help non-speaking audiences, the show has still kept audiences on the edge of their seat. This is another recent example of non-English media becoming a worldwide sensation. Netflix’s Spanish language show Money Heist has been one of the most popular shows on the platform for years, and the Korean language thriller Parasite won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2020. All of these pieces of media prove how non-English directors, actors, and writers no longer have to cater to American audiences in order to be successful. The success of Squid Game and other non-English media is a testament to how the greatness of art can transcend language and cultural barriers.

Squid Game covers themes surrounding the systemic causes of poverty, and how poverty can drive a person to desperate circumstances. This is exemplified in the show’s director, Hwang Dong-Hyuk, who had originally pitched the series as a movie script in 2009. He was rejected by several studios, and because of his poverty he had to write most of the script in internet cafés. He kept workshopping the script until it was accepted by Netflix in 2019. The lengths that Dong-Hyuk had to go through proves many of Squid Game’s themes, and makes the experiences of the characters more relatable.

Some viewers have questioned why Netflix, a multi-billion-dollar company, funded a show with anti-capitalist themes. Regardless of the motives behind the show’s greenlighting, it is clear that Netflix found a big hit in Squid Game, and allowed Dong-Hyuk to make a show which has captivated tens of millions worldwide.