‘Squid Game’ explores humanity’s dark realities

Joanna Paje, Staff Writer

Minor dialogue spoilers for the last episode

If you haven’t watched “Squid Game” despite the sudden explosion of popularity that’s been circling social media, I guarantee you that peer pressure will never get the best of you. “Squid Game” has arguably taken over the internet in just the span of a few days. Standing at nine episodes and only one season, there is no doubt that the Netflix original has become the most watched series within the past month. 

“Squid Game” is a Korean thriller that conveys the threats of capitalism and the chokehold it has on those suffering from crippling debt. The series depicts a population of people that are unable to pay off their loans fighting for their lives in six different games to walk away with 45.6 billion Korean won, or approximately 36 million U.S dollars. The show perfectly describes the illusion of choice and fairness in the real world, and conveys with ominous accuracy the way that people have no choice but to blindly trust anonymous masked officials to dictate the direction of their lives. Players were given the choice to walk away from the game should a majority of the population vote for termination, but in the end, they all came back. They decided that losing to crippling debt in the real world is a much more dishonorable death than fighting “fairly” in the game.

“Players were given the choice to walk away from the game…, but in the end they all came back.”

What is fascinating about “Squid Game” is the way that it exposes the visceral reality of humanity. “Squid Game” expresses the natural greed of man: winning one game simply is not enough. To walk away with the winning prize, players must complete six different brutal games. Winning one game only provides temporary happiness, because walking out with the prize money means having dozens of people’s blood on your hands. It is an empty victory — a hollow victory, and it is a victory that only the desperate are willing to indulge in. 

Moreover, the games that the players participate in to win are games that were played in their childhood. The fact that many of these players were killed playing games that once brought them comfort as children reveals the way that adults have a tendency to seek comfort in what is familiar, only to find that it is no longer as nurturing as they once remembered. The games they played while fighting over the money followed the same rules as the ones played when they were kids, except the risks were much higher. Their lives, their money, it was all at stake and that is the reality of the world. 

In the last episode of the show, one of the characters looks up at the protagonist and says, “When we were kids, we would play just like this, and our moms would call us in for dinner. But no one calls us anymore.” 

People grow up and people make mistakes. It is impossible to go back to the days filled with childlike innocence, and I think that that is something that resonated with a majority of the audience, whether or not it was acknowledged. “Squid Game” is a phenomenal show that beautifully delivered the division between the rich and the poor, the young and the old and the fortunate and the unfortunate.