Squid Game, Netflix's new dark survival drama from South Korea, has debuted at No. 1 in the United States and the United Kingdom, and if early audience figures hold true, it may be the company's biggest show of the year. The nine-episode series is a dystopian drama about a deadly competition in which individuals compete in children's games. Its juxtaposition between the underprivileged and the filthy rich delves into the lengths to which desperate people would go to, to win a reward of ?45.6 billion (about £28.6 million).
During this year’s Code conference, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos shared “It’s only been out for nine days” and “it has a very good chance it’s going to be our biggest show ever.” Squid Game's popularity shocked Ted Sarandos and the Netflix team since, even though they created the algorithm, Squid Game would not be appearing for western subscribers as much as other selected regions. Despite this, it has surpassed all expectations and achieved the No. 1 spot and has also received an 87% audience score and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes which is rarely heard of.
Squid Game was accused of plagiarising elements of a Japanese film called As the Gods Will, which was created in the early 2010s and released in 2014. Hwang Dong-hyuk director of Squid Game has mentioned that the script was in the works since 2008 and 2009 and addresses that the similarities in the ‘first game’ did not continue throughout the series. Hwang is not the first to write a survival show like this, with an honourable mention of Battle Royale (2000) this film has inspired many western films like the Hunger Games trilogy. Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino considers Battle Royale to be the finest film he has watched in the last two decades and his personal favourite. Battle Royale has moulded many films that came after and there is no doubt it also had an influence on Squid Game.
The series was not the only thing that gained fame and popularity. Lee Yoo Mi, who plays Ji Young in Squid Game has gained five times more followers on her Instagram account from 40,000 followers to 3.2 million followers. Similarly, model turn actress Jung Ho Yeon who plays the role of Kang Sae Byeok has captivated the audience with her acting skills and has gained over 400,000 followers in a few days. She is currently at 8.6 million followers. Underrated actors in the series like Indian actor Anupam Tripathi who played the role of Ali has gained multiple followers, the series put him on the map for more Korean drama roles as the representation for foreign actors in Korea is minimal. Anupam currently has 1.5 million followers on Instagram and counting. There is no doubt fans were impressed by their performances which contributed to the show’s success.
If you have not seen Squid Game, I hope reading this convinced you to watch it!
(image from Netflix, 2021)