Streaming Now: "Squid Game"

Service: Netflix

Show Title: "Squid Game"

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Just in time for Halloween, Netflix recently released its terrifyingly gory depiction of schoolyard playtime, "Squid Game," to an audience of 111 million viewers, making it the biggest series ever for the company. The show features the classic premise of desperate people risking life and limb to have the opportunity to win an enormous amount of money at the end of the series. United in a common state of financial ruin, the 456 players compete against each other in a deadly spin on childhood favorite games testing the limits of personal endurance and human decency. However, this dramatic storyline and commentary on the human condition is so poorly packaged that the message fails to resonate with the audience.

The show was clearly produced for a South Korean audience, so the nuanced moments of personal trial and complexity is lost due to the cultural barrier from an American perspective. As a result, it becomes difficult to identify with the character on a deeper level than the archetype the producers assigned to them; the characters are quite literally reduced to numbers. Number 456, Seong Gi-Hun, is the main character with a daughter he wants to provide for, but he has found himself desperately in debt due to a gambling addiction. Throughout the series he grapples with his moral conscience as he is forced to do terrible things to survive. Gi-Hun is the character who the audience is supposed to root for, but his poorly developed characterization and the ridiculous plot carrying the narrative along deflates all dramatic tension and the character becomes annoying as opposed to the sympathetic figure the producers intended.

The narrative is the weakest aspect of the series. The story is nonexistent, and each event seems to exist independently of the events before and after it. The players are forced to endure six deadly games which eliminate approximately half the player roster, but the plot lines going game to game are loosely flowing and downright confusing, taking away from the importance of games in the context of the larger storyline. After watching the nine episodes of the series, several glaring plot holes and unanswered questions persist, leaving the viewer frustrated and unsatisfied. For gory, psychological and dramatic manipulation of the human experience, several better options should be higher on the must watch list than "Squid Game."

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