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Cake's Takes on Squid Game (TV Series Review) (2021)

Caila went to Meremac-STL for journalism and has been writing for most of her life.

Squid Game

The Korean promotional poster for Netflix's Squid Game.

The Korean promotional poster for Netflix's Squid Game.

What is the Squid Game?

When I watched this show's first episode, the only thing that was on my mind was "What is this show about and why is everybody in the world talking about it right now?" The show had already taken over Netflix as its clear Most Popular Show on TV and their most popular show ever on Netflix, so I had to see what the hype was about! It is a Korean based series with different dubs and subtitles for viewers. I thought this made the show so special! Not too many things from Korean culture pop off in the States. Korean culture has always been one of my favorites for pop culture due to their many game shows, celebrities, music and TV shows. Squid Game intrigued me immediately!

Children's Games

The way to the gaming area in Squid Game.

The way to the gaming area in Squid Game.

I Want To Play A Game

The first episode of the show, I began in English dubbed and became annoyed almost at once. This show is so much better in Korean with English subtitles. You can REALLY feel the emotions when the characters are acting through their voices. The mouths distract me when I know they're not saying what they're saying. However, if you can dig it, then watch it in whatever form you want to. I found the first episode of the show had a really slow buildup for the hype that surrounded it. The show has hour long episodes and in the beginning, it felt like it! Once they got into the actual premise, however, I wished the first episode was longer!

There are over 400 people invited, somewhere unknown, to win BILLIONS of Korean won currency, including our main character, Gi-Hun. Every one of them are in enormous amounts of debt, need the money badly for various reasons, and all have something major going on in the outside world. The place the invitees are being held is on an undisclosed, vacant island area and they are guarded by people with guns in masks. They are told that if they want to get out of debt, they are to play games. If you win, you go on to the next round, if you lose... well... We'll see. The first game is Red Light, Green Light! Children's games!? Sounds easy and fun, right? You move on Green, stop on Red. It was fun when we were kids! However, once they all begin playing, it's not so easy. If you move, you die.... in real life. Hey, at least their debt is gone now. Once everyone realizes what is at stake during this game, it's not fun anymore.

The game area is such a different world than what we have seen so far in the show. The production and the set design of the show was really amazing and such a huge contrast to the glum realities of the world that have been projected to us so far. The color schemes, lighting and everything they chose were perfect for conveying that happiness that kids have. They were children's colors, if you will, and that made it all the more better for the concept of the show to me.

Locked In

The overseers of the games.

The overseers of the games.

I Want To Go Home

After the first game, it is decided by those who won the last game, that they mostly want to leave and go home. They call a vote and win the majority, however, within the same second episode, they all end up coming back. The outside world is scarier than the one they were actually in. This led me to my next point about the show. Mostly everybody in the game is so GREEDY! Billions of Korean won will be accumulated over the course of the game itself with the deaths of it's players, and I couldn't help but think the entire time that whoever wins this money is probably still going to mess it up and ruin it. The character development and the characterizations in this show were masterful, because you can't help but want nobody to win sometimes because they come across as awful people sometimes.

Win or Die...

Gi-hun playing the Sugar game

Gi-hun playing the Sugar game

The Nature and Psychology of Humans

The show depicts the deprivations of life very well. Rent, debt, kids, relationships, diseases... just life, man. Life happens fast and everybody goes through it. The more the series goes on the more you get the feeling that none of these people can be trusted at all and that everything may be a scheme! The show does have a few cool underlying themes. I feel like it can be looked at in a psychological study of what happens to people when they are pushed and driven to the edges of their existence. The show also has a good representation of good human nature, because the storyline also shows how decent people can be, the small kindness between a few people and how far that can go. It also shows how far people are willing to go to win or to be on top of everything. There are so many underlying strong, psychological themes in this show from the games to the people themselves.

The differences and the thought process behind Game 3 and Game 4 is superior! The players just came from a game where they were on teams playing Tug of War. In Game 4, it is announced that they all have to pick a partner for this game to move forward. Going from a team game to having partners just sounds like another team up game, right? WRONG! This time, whoever they picked will be their opponent for the game this time and some people unknowingly pick VERY wrong. The repercussions from these actions are played out magnificently. The game of Marbles itself is very simple but the drama that ensues afterwards and the heartstrings that episode 6 with the 4th game tugs on is one for the books! Episode 6 is a true knockout episode. It literally made me cry because of the emoted emotions from the actors and actresses. They mentally and emotionally have so much to go through and it's not even the end of the games yet! The psychological warfare being played here is stressful!

The Players of the Game

3 of the 456 players of the game.

3 of the 456 players of the game.

Characters

With a fairly unknown cast to the United States, Squid Game has amazing actors and actresses. The acting is a bit exaggerated, as is a lot of dramas and comedies in Korean culture, but they do such a great job at conveying emotions to the camera that it works very well. We have a slurry of characters who range from pure evil, to good natured and good hearted, to losers, to aggressors and instigators, people with a mysterious backstory and so on. There is someone for everyone to love or hate in this cast.

Our main character of the show is in debt from loan sharks, that he could get out of but is choosing not to, he does not communicate well with his daughter or her mother so he does not have the best relationship with either of them, and he is still living with his mother at home. He is almost irredeemable, if the show did not make him so well sympathetic and come across as an everyday nice guy with some bad luck. My first thought of Gi-Hun was that he reminded me of Scott Lang from the MCU. A relatable loser.

Most of the characters come across as everyday people who you would meet at some point in your life and they have traits that make them so human and realistic, which is something I admire this show for doing. These come off as people they just plucked off the street to play a game. Everyone has a backstory or a reason for being at the games, but only one can win. We see breakdowns, triumphs, twists and turns through these characters. By the end of the show, you're really rooting for all of them in some way or another. Each of their lives or deaths make an impact on the show.

Player #1

The first player of the game, an old man named, Il-nam.

The first player of the game, an old man named, Il-nam.

What a Twist?

There are about 2-3 twists in the show within the final two episodes that I, personally, saw coming, but may come off as a surprise to some. The twists, however, they still hit emotionally, which is what really mattered to me at the end of the day. The show ends on a exposition note where we find out truths behind questions we've had about the show, which while emotional, it was not as impactful because I saw them coming. The ending was one of the worst parts to me, only because it ended rather dully and abruptly. The story they told and the journey that it took to get to the ending was far better than the ending itself, which is what usually happens to really good TV shows. The journey itself is usually better than the destination you're getting to.

My Final Thoughts...

I think there is really good production on this show, from casting, to the sets they're on, to the themes that the show chooses to take on. The show does not tell us how bad poverty is in Korea but shows us through these people's toxic lifestyles, the way they have to live, the things they have to do just to get by and what they come across in their day to day lives. This show is really a decent depiction of how life in general is just hard sometimes. Regardless of their backstories, friendships, or how great their lives were before, life still hits all of us at some point. The ending really made me think about that, but also about how we choose to come back from said hardships. The show was good, yet had kinks within the storyline, however I do not wish that show gets a second season. It does not need it and it still told a great story even with the abrupt ending that it has. Bringing it back for a second season and introducing all new characters might put a blemish on the show's record. It's not perfect but the story and the storytelling was great! I thought this show was definitely worth the hype and I am glad that it brought Korean culture, real life issues, and great actors to the forefront of American culture and American social media!

Squid Game Netflix Series Poll (2021)

This Show is a... DIAMOND!!!

Actors, Actresses, and Production Teams!

The actors, actresses, and production teams and companies that went into creating the phenomenal Netflix Series, Squid Game!

Actors/ActressesProduction TeamProduction Companies

Lee Jung-jae

Hwang Dong-hyuk (Creator, Writer, Director)

Siren Pictures Inc. (Production Company)

Park Hae-soo

Jung Jae-il (Composer)

Dolby Vision (Picture Format)

Wi Ha-joon

Ojing-eo Geim (Revised Romantization)

Dolby Atmos (Audio Format)

Jung Ho-yeon

Ojingo Keim (McCune Reischauer)

Netflix (Distribution Company)

O Yeong-su

Heo Sung-tae

Anupam Tripathi

Kim Joo-ryoung

Where You Can Watch...

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